I have seen several accounts on Twitter ask their followers if they had any advice for their younger selves. This had me thinking what I would tell my younger self. My birthday last week really had me thinking about things I wish I could relay to my twenty-year-old self.
While I am very content with my life right now, I do still have a lot of advice that I would love to somehow send to my younger self. This advice would likely make my life easier had I known then what I know now. This is definitely advice I would give anyone who is just out of high school or in college. I would love for them to learn from my struggles and learned lessons rather than struggle themselves.
Advice to My Younger Self
I have a rather short list I want to share, but they are heavy hitters (in my opinion at least).
Do NOT Change Your Major
When I applied for college, I always declared my major in Psychology. I even maintained that declared major for the first two years of college. When I transferred to Liberty University, I changed my major to Education. There were a couple of reasons why I did that at the time.
First, I changed my major because I really was trying to avoid the need to go to graduate school. A BS and a certification were all I would need to get a teaching job. Granted, I probably should have looked into what all it was going to take to get a state certification. I also needed to look at the job market around me. Because I did not do the proper research, I ended up going to grad school about a year later to try to make myself more marketable for jobs. That degree is in counseling.
So, I ended up right where I was trying to avoid by dropping the Psychology major. I probably would have enjoyed the rest of the required courses for Psychology so much more than having to take a class completely devoted formatting papers. Then again, I might have had to take that anyway. Oh well.
Second, I changed majors because I was scared of what I might have gotten myself into. I was not confident in my abilities. I doubted my capability to be able to help people. This had nothing to do with the curriculum and what I was learning. It had everything to do with the fact that I had little self-confidence at the time.
Finally, I changed my major to education because everyone I knew was telling me that I would be a good teacher. This is something people told me my entire childhood. Many got more adamant about it when I started baby-sitting around our neighborhoods. I was the babysitter who could handle any unruly toddler, tutor the kids with their schoolwork, follow and enforce house rules and even cook meals. I’m not gonna lie, I was dang good at it! So, friends and family meant well when they encouraged me to become a teacher. However, being a good babysitter/nanny does not mean I would be a good teacher.
I admit I was a decent new teacher. But I hated every minute of being a teacher at a daycare. I also hated everything about working as a substitute teacher for the local school district.
Better Yet, Rethink College All Together
Now that I ended up going to graduate school anyway to try to get a decent job and have failed in doing that too; I would advise my younger self to rethink college all together. I take pride in the fact that I have my two degrees. But here is the thing, even though I learned a lot, they are just pieces of paper…awfully expensive pieces of paper. What am I doing with those? In honesty, not a whole lot. I am now working from home trying to become a successful blogger. This is something that generally has nothing to do with either one of my degrees. My theoretical training and experience do help me write about certain topics and offer advice. But, still blogging was not anywhere near my radar when I was first going to college.
If I could turn back time (cue Cher), I probably would not go to college at all. Especially if I KNEW that I really would not be applying what I learned on a daily basis. If I could start again, I probably would go to culinary school to become a pastry chef. Or, if I were to go to college again, it would be for a degree in photography. These are not less expensive options, but definitely a completely different direction than what I chose.
Choose Something You Love
The lesson here I would tell my younger self is to listen to my wants and needs before anyone else’s advice. I should have taken time to reflect on what I really wanted to do with my life. But, I knew I wanted to go to college or earn practical education. But I did listen to others rather than myself and that kind of threw a wrench in my plans. I also should have done more research about the job market around me and their requirements (e.g. education, certification, licensing, etc.).
Don’t Take Those Meds
My graduate degree has been extremely helpful for me. I have not been able to apply my knowledge in the workforce though. It has given me the opportunity to do a lot more research on pharmaceuticals and what they do to the brain and the rest of the body. I have also done a lot of research on hormonal contraceptives since my hubby and I have started trying to have a baby. With the things I have learned, I absolutely would advise my younger self to avoid most medications; especially the ones I was prescribed in my teens and early twenties.
When I was younger, I suffered with horrible migraines and they were usually triggered by my hormones. So, at 16, my doctor prescribed a birth control pill to help regulate my hormones and mitigate my migraines. It also helped regulate my cycles.
After a while on birth control, I noticed that it wasn’t really helping me with my migraines like my doctor said/hoped. But, they didn’t recommend getting off of the pill because it regulated my cycle and I was a teenager. *eye roll* I was fat in high school and no one looked at me in any way at the time other than as a friend, so at the time, I really didn’t need to worry about getting pregnant.
I have done a lot of research learning about hormone contraceptives and how they can cause a lot of harm to a woman’s body and can cause fertility issues. Not everyone agrees about whether there are risks with birth control or not. But with my opinion and experience tells me that I should have avoided it at all costs. If I had known, I would have never taken a single dose. I would have found other options to help with my migraines and known that irregular cycles in adolescence is normal.
When it comes to preventing pregnancy, I would recommend to my younger self to use different contraceptives or abstain all together until marriage. Then use natural family planning until we were ready for babies. Had I not started taking the pill when I was younger, my husband and I might already be parents too. I wouldn’t have had synthetic hormones in my body possibly hiding hormonal issues that I am/was unaware of, thus making it easier to get pregnant. Knowing that is a possibility definitely hurts right now since we haven’t been lucky with kiddos yet.
I am not going to hate on anti-depressants. I know many people who use them and actually get a lot of help from them. But my advice to my younger self here is to not take the prescription without actually talking with a counselor first. I was on anti-depressants two different times when I was younger. The first time was when I was still in high school. I had injured myself which led to nerve damage in my leg and put me in a lot of pain. The anti-depressant was thrown in with my pain regimen to help me “cope” with the pain. It turned me into a stump. That was not fun during my senior year of high school. I was taken off of that medication rather quickly because it wasn’t working and just left me in a fog.
When I was prescribed an anti-depressant for the second time, it was because I was struggling with anxiety and really couldn’t figure out why. So, I would tell my younger self that I need to understand why I am feeling anxious rather than just medicate it. Had I taken the chance to talk it out with a counselor, I might have been able to avoid taking the meds completely and figured out the underlying issue a lot faster.
Get Serious about Diet and Exercise
Shortly after high school, I was so tired of constantly having to take medications to get through the day. So, I weaned myself off of everything that was prescribed to me for pain management. I ended up losing quite a bit of weight just by stopping the meds. That weight loss encouraged me to keep working on getting in shape again. I was in pain a lot of the time. But, my head was clear, and it was worth having to learn my own limitations when it came to learning to work out again.
I eventually got a little obsessive with it though and I counted nearly every calorie I ate and worked out a little too much. I was so obsessed with the fact that I needed to lose weight each and every week. By 20 I had lost nearly 150 lbs. I was so proud of myself, but the way I did it was not extremely healthy either. That was because I wasn’t able to keep up with it. Shortly after getting married, I relaxed my calorie counting and didn’t exercise as much and ended up gaining quite a bit of the weight back by 25.
What I would tell my younger self is to not make diet and exercise an all or nothing situation. This is something I am still trying to figure out. But, if I could tell my younger self that, maybe it would click a littler sooner.
Start That Skin Care Routine…Like Yesterday
I turned 30 a couple weeks ago and in recent months I have become very aware of some issues I have with my skin. I have some lines under my eyes when I smile, and my brows/upper eyelid are a little droopy. That is an unfortunate family curse. My mom had to have surgery to correct her upper lids a few years back. So, I am doing a lot of research to find creams and products that might help avoid having to go through surgery like my mom.
I also want to avoid actual cosmetic surgery or cosmetic procedures because a vast majority of them do not last. Frankly, I don’t like the idea of elective surgeries for cosmetic reasons and I hate getting poked with needles.
So, I would tell my younger self to find and stick to a regular skin care routine very early on. It is amazing how tiny little habits can make all the difference as we age.
I have a lot of advice for younger women out there for sure. I have plenty of other things that I would love to tell my younger self as well. However, it is a good thing that time travel isn’t a thing. I’m glad I can’t really change my past decisions because while those changes might help me avoid the issues I had to deal with, that doesn’t mean that other problems won’t pop up. Those problems could be worse than what I dealt with. There is no telling where I would be in my life or whether I’d be content with my life if I made those decisions.
So, I will gladly offer advice based off of what I have learned through the years to anyone who asks for it.
Question of the Week
What advice would you offer to your younger self?