Dear younger self,
There are a lot of things I wish I knew when I was younger. I wish I knew unrealistic things like how my life would turn out and how I could ace every test without studying. I also wish I had known as a young adult some more practical things like what things would matter in the long run.
Things are pretty different from what I expected when I was younger. I made it through college and still talk to some friends from high school. Some friendships I thought would last forever unexpectedly died, and others became surprisingly strong.
There are so many things I didn’t need to worry about. There are even more things I wish I could encourage my younger self to do, like dancing in public (which is not nearly as embarrassing as I thought it would be).
This letter includes some things I wish I had known when I was younger. Advice no one thinks to give and encouragement I didn’t know I needed. It’s easier to look back and see all the things I missed and even those I didn’t from a new perspective.
I hope, though, that by writing this, someone can see some of the things I wish I knew when I was still learning how to be an adult.
Grades honestly don’t matter that much
Obviously, don’t go failing all your classes, but after finishing school, grades aren’t that important. Learn what you can and focus on the things that interest you most. Young me, you’re in for a lot of stress and sleepless nights worrying over grades that on their own don’t actually matter that much.
I wish I knew that when you’re done with school, no one will ask you what you got in that one pre-calculus class you nearly failed. The important thing about school isn’t the test results; it’s understanding how to learn.
We’re lucky to live in a world where the answer to almost any question is just a few taps away but knowing how to logic things out is good too. Learning how to learn is the most important part of school. The rest of what you’ll need, you’ll be able to learn outside of the classroom anyway.
You don’t have to pick one job and stick with it forever
Something very important that I wish I knew when I was younger is that it’s normal to change careers and even industries. As a young adult, I was plagued by the “what do you want to do after you graduate?” question. I never knew how to answer and would usually give vague responses no one remembered, so they would ask again. And again. And again.
I was stressed out and scared that I would never figure anything out and would graduate with no prospects and no interests in any job field. That was luckily not the case, and now I know better.
You’re young, and you have time to figure things out. Even with everyone asking you what you want to do. You can just say the first thing that comes to mind and change your answer the next time they ask you. If you really can’t think of any one thing, then just say you’re focusing on general studies and you’re still feeling out different fields.
There’s no right or wrong answer. Unless you’re really dedicated to one career or industry, odds are you won’t end up where you thought you would back in high school.
Relationships will come and go, whether you like it or not
I don’t necessarily mean romantic relationships. Sometimes important people to you just don’t want to be in your life anymore. That’s a really hard lesson to learn. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. Trying to hold onto them doesn’t help; it just makes it more painful for everyone.
The best thing you can do is try one last time to communicate with them. If nothing changes, then you just have to learn how to let them go. You can’t force anyone to care about you, no matter how much you care about them.
It’s going to hurt, losing people. One of the things I wish I knew now was how to never lose a loved one ever. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible. What is possible is to realize that losing them doesn’t make the time you spent together any less precious. You can always cherish the memories you made with them.
Nothing will change if you don’t put yourself out there
Even as an adult now, I’m struggling to follow through with this piece of advice. When we were younger, I could see how much harder it was to accept that. I know how often we spent daydreaming about someone else coming forward to do things for us. To make life more interesting. To cheer us up when we were down. To push us to do things.
Sometimes we got lucky, and there was someone else who came and pushed us to move forward. Other times not so much. Learning how to be the change we want to see in our life will only bring good things. It will teach you how to take matters into your own hands. There’s nothing wrong with being assertive to get what you want.
One of the things I wish I knew most when I was younger was that we have a lot more control over our lives than it feels like sometimes.
It can be scary being the one to change things. Think about what the alternative is, though. If everything remains the same, will you be happy? If you can’t stand the idea of things being stagnant, then it’s time to pluck up the courage to be the one to change it. Just wait and see when you do. Amazing things can happen.
Transitions are scary but you don’t have to go through them alone
I remember going through big transitions in life and feeling quite literally sick to my stomach. You’ll be there soon too. I wish I had some magic words of wisdom that would cure that sick feeling for you, but the truth is I still have trouble with them myself.
The easiest way to get through those tough transitions is to find the people you care about and lean on them for comfort. Spending time with loved ones is always going to make you feel better. We wouldn’t have made it through college without the lovely human beings we met in our freshman dorm.
Experiencing transitions and change can be exciting and something to look forward to with the right people. It doesn’t have to be something to dread.
It’s kind of weird to be writing all of this now because a lot of the things I wish I knew when I was younger are things that I’ve been writing about in other blogs. Things like what is most important when buying a new car and signs that a relationship might be toxic. If we knew back then that we would go on to write about all of the things we didn’t know about, I think we’d be proud.
I don’t know everything now, of course, but with time has come experience, and I hope my experience can help you even just a little bit.
While I can’t actually send this letter to my younger self, what I can do is write a letter to my future self. I won’t exactly have the benefit of hindsight, but there are websites and other ways to create a personal little time capsule that has its own benefits.
If you wrote a letter to your younger self, what would you write about?