So I’m hardly hitting old, or even middle age. But I can still think of a thing or two I’d tell my younger self and I’ve seen these sorts of things doing the rounds on twitter and blogs and all sorts so I thought I’d add my own two cents into the mix.
1. Choose different A Levels
Kind of a specific one to start off with, but if I could go back I would choose differently. I’d still do Drama as I loved it, and Philosophy for the same reason – even though it wasn’t my best result, still learnt a lot. But instead of Biology (random?!) and Chemistry AS Level (worst. choice. ever.) . Choosing all over again and I’d go for English or Psychology I think. Or perhaps even a language.
2. Focus on your friends more than boys
In high school I had a lovely boyfriend – he really was a really lovely person. But I definitely spent a bit too much time in a little bubble focussed on him rather than on my friends – I wish I had done things differently back then and spent more time just having fun with the girls rather than being all loved up when so young.
3. You don’t have to go down a typical path
Sometimes with school/university and subject choices and career options it’s easy to assume that the obvious options are the only ones. Having chosen a slightly less typical subject for Uni (American Studies) ok, hardly ‘off the wall crazy’, but a little outside of the norm. I loved it, it gave me the variety I needed and a chance to travel and live abroad. Then post-uni I headed initially into PR but then through various winding career choices have ended up very happily working for myself. It’s nice to know that the non-traditional options are out there… you don’t have to have the cookie-cutter Uni/work life if it doesn’t feel like the right thing for you. Although when it comes to uni, I would say that even if you have no idea what career you want at the end (I didn’t) then the experience alone is worth it – in some ways it can be a total shock to the system, but in reality it’s a gentle way into living all independent and as an adult. Plus you will probably never have a time you’re that totally care and responsibility free again in your life – so make the most of it.
4. Don’t stand for frenemies
I now know I would either just walk away or speak out about people who are supposedly your friends behaving in a way that just doesn’t fall into the ‘friend’ category at all. But I think that’s just a bit of confidence that comes with age. I wish I had more of a backbone when I was a bit younger as I put up with things that I really wouldn’t stand for now – at the time I knew they weren’t right, but the desire to still fit in won over my own happiness. Bad call Jen – I would tell myself to speak up, or walk away. Friends are the people who are happy for your good stuff and try pick you up when not feeling so great – anyone who does the opposite isn’t worth your time or energy. Same applies for all relationships really.
5. Do more exercise
Not because I was a total fatty or anything – but just because I wish it was a habit I had gotten into when younger as it’s so much harder to try and form a habit/love for exercise now! My metabolism would really have thanked me for this one.
6. Don’t (ever) try and do lunges down the stairs
It’s just silly and Ollie is right, you will hurt yourself.
7. Take every opportunity to travel
During my year living in the US I had opportunities to travel and I didn’t take all of them. The main one was my original plan to fly back home the ‘wrong’ way – i.e. take the long route home via Australia/Thailand and all sorts of lovely exotic places and have an amazing Summer before I went back to Uni for my final year. A combination of realising that whilst I felt fine safety wise travelling alone, I did realise I would miss having someone to talk to on the way around (I discovered this when I was ready to talk the hind legs off a donkey after four days alone in NYC). As much as the trip and being alone was fine – I just missed the company! It was also somewhat thwarted by my love of American malls and shopping… oops. In hindsight I should probably have cut back the spending habits and just gone for it. Now, I will never turn down a chance to go abroad – whatever it’s for.
8. Start a blog, it’s great
Growing up I was never that great at sticking to things – personally I don’t think that’s all that bad. Sure, I tried to learn the Flute but wasn’t interested in practising (I just wanted to be immediately good), I tried ballet, tap and horseriding. Gave gymnastics and netball a go and none of them stuck. I’m sure this was very much to the cost and frustration of my parents, but I guess none of these were right for me. But further down the line, as an adult I started my blog. And for the first time I really ‘got’ what it meant to have a passion for a hobby. So looking back, it would be pretty awesome to tell myself to start a blog around the age of 16 so I could get in there mega early instead of in my twenties. Ok, sure – blogging really wasn’t a thing when I was 16, but still… I really wish I started it at least when I was at Uni as would have been a much better use of time than napping and watching daytime TV (and doing lots of studying…if you’re reading this Mum).
9. Learn stuff like photography and photoshop
Because if you listen to point 8, these will come in really handy and you can make your new blog look all snazzy. Plus otherwise you will always have to rely on others for help with things like the design of your blog and that’s not something you really like needing to do. It was another thing that unlike now, was never really an option at school when I was there. I think you could do an elective in photography, but pretty sure this was ‘proper’ photography with a dark room and all sorts rather than digital. Ok, now I do feel old.
10. Always follow your gut
I know that sounds really cliche – but it’s true. It’s the best guide to making decisions. But when something doesn’t feel right, your gut will always let you know. And if your gut says it isn’t, then it’s probably right. Whatever it is – from what to have for lunch, to what uni subject to choose, to if that relationship is a good idea or not. Your gut will likely tell you. Sometimes you will have conflicting messages from both your head and your heart – but out of the three I find the gut to be the one to listen to above the other two.
A little bit random, but enjoyed thinking about and writing this. Plus it might be interesting to look back on this in another 10/15 years and see what new advice I would give again! What about you, any here you would give to your younger self – or others you would add yourself?