22 Pieces of Life Advice People Would Give to Their 20-Year-Old Selves

Pierre Van ZylLearn, Personal Growth + Development

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Self-reflection is a healthy and necessary part of self-improvement. How can we grow as individuals and become better if we don’t learn from our past mistakes? That doesn’t mean wallow in your past and let unwelcome feelings of regret take over. However, sometimes thinking about what you would tell your younger self helps put life into perspective.

Practicing self-reflection can:

  • Improve self-awareness
  • Provide perspective
  • Help you live proactively, not reactively
  • Make you more confident in yourself
  • Challenge long-held (and possibly incorrect) assumptions you may have

A Quick Guide on How to Self Reflect

According to LifeHack, there are four simple steps you can take to start self-reflection: (1)

  1. Stop. Take some time and step back from your own life.
  2. Look. Identify what the problem (if any) is and get perspective on what you notice.
  3. Listen. Be patient and listen to that voice inside you and embrace what it’s saying.
  4. Act. Based on your assessment, identify the steps you need to take moving forward to improve.

There are 21 people who have done their own versions of that below. Now that they’re older, after some self-reflection, this is the advice they would give their 20-something selves. First we’ll hear from the women…

Life Advice to Our Younger Selves

1) “You’re talented. The biggest thing holding you back from success is your own fear of failing. You’re going to fail a few times anyways, so might as well fail spectacularly. It’ll make your recovery that much more impressive.� —Heather, 44

2) “Travel. Travel as often as possible, because once you settle down you’re pretty much out of luck. Backpacking through Europe isn’t nearly as accessible when you have four-year-old twins.� —Monica, 44

3) “It’s okay to feel lost. In fact, embrace it. It’s not as bad as you think it is right now, and eventually everything works out. Even though you don’t really know what you want out of life yet, you’re always leaning in the direction that feels right to you, and that will get you where you need to go. Trust your gut a little.� —Leslie, 45

4) “OMG yes. I wish someone had mentioned this to me ages ago, but 22-year-old Laura? Please, please, please learn to cook. It’s cute to be all fumbling and clueless in a kitchen when you’re 22, but when you’re 32? Not so much.� —Laura, 42

5) “A guy that hangs out with you in his free time and a guy that frees time to hang out with you are not the same. Learn the difference. Preferably before the whole Dan fiasco.� —Naomi, 46

6) “Advice? I wouldn’t give myself any advice. The struggle of drifting aimlessly and feeling like I was all alone with no idea what I was doing is what got me where I am today. I’m stronger because of it and wouldn’t change anything.� —Jordan, 45

7) “It gets better. It gets way, way worse but then it does get better. Hang in there.� —Chelsea, 45

8) “Not everything is about you! Everyone’s struggling with their own issues at the exact same time you’re feeling useless. Sure, the job you have sucks, but you’re not the first person to be miserable. Suck it up, and treat other people with the same compassion that you expect from them.� —Jessica, 43

9) “Break up with him. You both bring out the worst in each other, so move on. Do you know how much fun you could have been having during those 2 years instead of fighting constantly?� —Joan, 45

10) “Be confident, I know it’s hard at times, but you’ve got it all and just need to own it. No one else is going to believe in you until you believe in yourself.� —Vanessa, 48

11) “Get out of the city. You’ve always hated it, so listen to yourself and get out of there. You’re developing wrinkles at a rapid pace, and I’m convinced it’s because of those five miserable, stressful years living in LA.� —Brenda, 45

12) “I wish I had realized how lucky I was. I was so preoccupied by feeling like I hadn’t accomplished enough yet that I never stopped and just appreciated what I had. I didn’t enjoy myself the way I should have.� —Wendy, 42

Related: Grandma’s Advice: 5 Steps to Dealing with Tragedy and Increasing Your Resilience

Now, from the men…

13) “You should ask your parents for advice more often. They actually know a few things and are pretty cool people once they aren’t paying your phone bill. Also, stop being cheap and pay for your own phone.� —Peter, 42

14) “Deactivate your Facebook. The people you care about are on your phone, and everything else on there just stresses you out and makes you feel like sh*t. It’ll feel weird for the first day or so, but then you’ll get used to it and realize it was the best decision you’ve ever made.� —Ross, 45

15) “Return the favor. You’re an asshole for expecting your girlfriend to go down on you and then refusing to do the same. � —Patrick, 43

16) “Please forgive Dad. He gets sick when you’re 31, and it’s just not enough time. None of that stupid sh*t matters once he’s gone. Swallow your pride, because all of that time you spent ignoring him is precious and you wasted it.� —Isaac, 44

17) “Floss more. Seriously.� —Chris, 43

18) “Go for a f*cking run every once in a while. You know that you’re happier when you’re in better shape, so stop being lazy and do something.� —Murray, 44

19) “Don’t get a Zune. It doesn’t make you look cool. It never catches on. You look like a dick.� —Jack, 42

20) “Don’t simply pay the minimum on your loans. Pay as much as you can possibly afford each month. Live in a sh*tty apartment with five other people, work as much as you can, and get rid of all the loans. It’ll suck, but the freedom you’ll feel after paying the final payment will make it all worth it.� —Juan, 43

21) “Your life doesn’t magically make sense at 30. It’s always going to be confusing and a little f*cked up. Once you accept that, it becomes much more enjoyable.� —Liam, 46

22) “Leave after the first lie.� —Marcel, 41

Read Next: A Zen Master Explains Why “Positive Thinking” Is Terrible Advice

This great article was republished with permission from Thought Catalog.

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