Have you read the book The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger? Maybe you’ve seen the movie. In it, the lead character time travels back and forward in time, so at any point there can be a present him and a future or past him in one scene. It’s a bit trippy but the concept of time as nonlinear, as well as how you’d live your life if time was nonlinear, is really cool.
It got me imagining traveling back to visit my 20-something-year-old self as my now 34-year-old self. My 20s were tumultuous, dramatic, and filled with endless fun. I didn’t know I was finding myself during those years, but now I can see that I was – one reason they were tumultuous.
I wonder, if I went back in time to talk to my 20-something self, what I’d say. First off, I’d give some serious much-needed fashion and makeup advice but besides that I think I’d have a lot to say. (Not that my 20-something self would necessarily listen.)
- Confidence will come with age. I was so self conscious and insecure in university that I couldn’t even introduce myself – literally just say my name and where I was from – in front of a class without going beet red, never mind doing a long presentation. Either of those tasks were excruciatingly painful to me. I wondered if I’d ever feel confident in my own skin; I definitely had deep insecurities. If I could go back in time I’d give myself a hug and assure my young self that confidence will come with time and experience. It almost seems that with each year that’s passed I’ve grown to give less sh*ts about what others think and instead feel more assertive and confident in my decisions and generally in my self. I hear the 40s are even better in this regard; I look forward to that.
- You’ll date some guys who are wrong for you, but you won’t see it. Not until well after it’s over. However, I’d tell my 20-something self that deep down, some part of you probably already knows it so you’ll sabotage the relationship. (I *know* my dramatic 20-something self would not listen to this advice. LOL.)
- Stop being so critical about your body! For God’s sake, no matter what your body looks like at 20, it’s a 20-something body… Enjoy it! It’s young, energetic, agile, mobile; the crappy part of this is that when you’re in your 20s you have no point of comparison so you have no clue how great you have it.
- You’ll start peaking in your 30s. I mean, I can’t speak for my 40s, 50, 60s and beyond but I feel like in your 30s you begin peaking in every way… You just begin to come into your own. You’re more comfortable in your skin, your opinions on issues become more solidified, you become more outspoken, you stand up for things and people that matter, and you aren’t as afraid of turning someone off (you kind of take the stance: if you’re not for them, so be it).
- Your definition of a successful life will morph over time. If I could, I’d tell my 20-something self to relax and stop trying so darn hard to be the best at everything; basically, chill with the pressure and stop rushing what you deem to be success because that definition is going to change anyway.
- Being vulnerable is okay. In fact, it can be powerful. This is a BIGGIE for me and one I’m still working on, and I assume I’ll always be working on it. Just having this blog makes me vulnerable yet it also brings me so much joy, enlightenment, and interesting and exciting interaction with others. Through Brene Brown, a world-renowned shame and vulnerability researcher, I’ve learned that vulnerability is actually a strength that we should work towards developing. Of course, there’s honoring one’s privacy and that’s sacred but when you’re willing and it’s appropriate to share something, being vulnerable can be a magical and uplifting experience for you and those around you.
- Go on more dates. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I went on enough dates. But I’d still tell my 20-something self to go on more dates. Yes, even the crappy ones. I actually feel like going on all of those dates with people that weren’t right for me helped me know it when I met the person who was right for me. Those experiences were so essential to be able to identify the qualities I wanted in a person so that when I met that person (DC), I just knew he was someone I could go through life with.
- Stop feeling like you should be doing things. Stop rushing to have your own place, get that promotion, have a boyfriend, be engaged, get married, have a baby. Stop feeling like these are all essential stepping stones on the way to ultimate happiness. They aren’t. Everyone’s life doesn’t have to unfold in this so-called perfect pecking order. Again, enough with the pressure on yourself!
- Embrace the unknown. I used to stay up at night wondering where I’d be when I was 40. I would worry about the unknown, not rejoice in the unknown. If I could go back in time, my 34-year-old self would tell that 20-something whippersnapper, If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have a long life ahead of you to watch all of life’s miraculous events unfold. So stop with the worrying and chill.
What would you tell your 20-something self? If you’re in your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s or beyond, what decade would you time travel to, and what advice would you give yourself? I’m so curious! Let me know below in the comments.