They say we should never look back. But we’re only human. The vast majority of us do tend to reminisce and play the time-honoured game of “What If?”. That was certainly in the minds of a group of American researchers when they asked hundreds of people this simple question:
What advice would you give to your younger self?
It was an interesting exercise to say the very least. The responses were grouped into the categories of 'Relationships', 'Education', and 'Taking Care Of Yourself', and here are a few of the highlights. Some are humorous, some are poignant and some are just a little bit sad.
- Don’t marry her. Do. Not. Marry. Her.
- Don’t have sex with someone unless you know them well.
- Don’t lose hope in finding someone for you. They’re out there.
- Stay in school.
- Be kinder to yourself.
- The world is bigger than you think it is and your worries aren’t as important as you think they are. Just be you.
- Don’t get too caught up in the difficulties of the moment as they are only temporary.
- Don’t dwell on the past. Just because it was that way doesn’t mean it will be that way again.
In most cases, the advice was inspired by a pivotal event that happened in people’s lives between the ages of 10 and 30, the study found. That included events like meeting a life partner, watching parents go through a divorce, dealing with health issues or experiencing the death of a loved one.
Some of the advice dealt with experiences that people couldn’t change. The person who yearned to tell her younger herself, “Don’t have a child at 16,” for example, obviously could never undo becoming a teenage parent. We do tend to look back at life with regrets, and wish we could somehow change things. We can’t. But we can look forward with optimism, knowing we are smarter and wiser individuals. We can’t undo the past but we can be in total control of our future.
What about you?
Is there something within the list of responses that resonates with you?
Or would you have an entirely different piece of advice to give to your younger self?
If so, we’re all ears! None of us is ever too old to learn some valuable life lessons.