I’m older now than I was at 20 and I hope wiser. Here’s the non-paradox causing advice I’d give myself if I could talk to the 20-year-old me.
5. Trying new things is scary but worth it.
You know how you hate the idea of sushi or kale chips? Try them anyways, twice. You’ll be surprised. You’ll love the first and hate the second, but if you don’t try them, you’ll never know.
This applies to more than just food (although new food rocks), try new kinds of books, new events, new crafts, and new ways of seeing the world.
A lot of it will suck, but the more things you try, the more awesome things you’ll discover.
4. It is ok to like things.
You will meet people who you respect and who absolutely hate things that you like. It doesn’t mean that you should hate those things too. It doesn’t mean that you’re dumb or stupid for liking those things. It certainly doesn’t mean you’re wrong for liking them.
People will judge, berate, and mock you for things you like. Those are the people who suck and shouldn’t be in your life. A true friend will tell you they don’t like it and discuss it without making you feel like crap.
As weird as it sounds, it’s ok to like something that is bad. It gives you the chance to find out more about yourself and what about it you like.
Don’t let others tell you what you like. Trust yourself.
3. It is ok to show excitement about things.
Showing emotion and controlling emotion isn’t the same thing. Society tells you that men need to be stoic, strong, and controlled. That’s complete bullshit. If you want to squee in public, that’s ok. It doesn’t make you less of anything.
It’s perfectly ok to be excited about a movie, job, book, trip, person, meal, tv show, piece of lint, etc.
Showing your excitement shows others how you feel. If they agree or disagree, they’ll talk to you about it.
2. You don’t have to know what to do with your life yet.
You know that deep existential fear that you’ll never find your “calling” or “purpose” in life? Unfortunately for most people, that doesn’t go away. It’ll bug you for the next few decades, possibly more.
Good news is that you’ll find a lot of things you’re good at and that you’d gladly do for the rest of your life. Bad news, they probably won’t pay much to start with, if they ever do.
The only thing you can do about this is keep searching and keep doing the things you love.
1. Jobs, Money, and Love will stress you out…
You may at some point pay off your debts, get a job doing something you’re passionate about, and fall madly in love with the most wonderful person. These are all possibilities, but just like a frustrating video game there’s always something after.
Jobs, Money, and Love will always be there in one form or another.
Getting the perfect job? You’ll stress about keeping it, being good at it, being the best at it, and not over doing it.
Paying off debt and suddenly having lots of money? You’ll have other debts that come up, other expenses, worries about what happens if you lose your job.
Finding the love of your life? You’ll worry about losing them, not being good enough, having to share them with others.
Maybe you’re just a worrier. Maybe these are just facts of life. Either way, deal with them by planning and taking it one step at a time. They’re not going away, they aren’t ends. They’re rungs on the ladder of life.
In short, the advice I’d give my 20 year old self is this: Chill, enjoy life, and don’t let anyone tell you how you should be or feel.