Things I would tell my younger self…

Proverbs 19:20-21 (NIV)

20 Listen to advice and accept discipline,
    and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

I’m sure a lot of you have heard about the #myyoungerself movement this month. The Child Mind Institute is raising awareness and funds, for mental health and learning disorders. Actors, business people, athletes, and “social influencers” are making videos about their own struggles and offering messages of hope and empathy.  This got me thinking about what I would tell my younger self. 🤔

With young people in my life who struggle with anxiety and depression, I find myself often talking about mental health. I would now tell my younger self that it is NORMAL! In my 20s, I had such huge expectations of myself to be PERFECT! I wanted to show my family (and myself!) that I had it all together and that I was doing exactly what I should have been doing. I wanted to prove that I was more mature than others my age, and that I was ok being married young. I was ok not going on to get my Masters. I was ok being with a man that had been married before. I was ok having a child at a young age even we struggled monetarily (who didn’t in their early 20s??) I wanted to prove that I knew what I was doing and had it all together. But I didn’t. It gave me some big anxieties- and an ulcer! I made big mistakes. I had a lot of self doubt. I dealt with anxiety about the future and depression if things didn’t seem to go my way. Then I would beat myself up for not always feeling happy and settled about the wonderful life that I did have!

Let’s be honest: it is proven that our brains don’t fully form and function til our mid-twenties on average. Then why do we expect to feel perfect or to be perfect? Twenty years later, it is easier to see the big picture. We are all human. We experience a vast array of emotions, and they aren’t always pretty. We have doubts and anxieties. We get sad and disconnected. We get depressed and take it out on those we love. We look for other things to make us happy. But eventually we learn that it is part of life. We learn where some of our mental health struggles came from. We learn that sometimes we need a little extra help, and that it is OK to get it. With age comes acceptance…I would tell my younger self to “just be”…

Aside from the mental health side of life, there are definitely some other things I’d tell my younger self! I’m sure that my mom or loved ones told me many of these things, but who really wants to listen to someone with many more years of experience and advice when you’re young?😜

Appreciate your lack of acne as a teenager – I mean really appreciate it! Because you will get it someday! Probably at the same time you’re griping about your wrinkles and sun spots! 🤣 It is a cruel world…

Don’t just put sunscreen on your face, but your neck, shoulders, and chest! Those are the areas where you will start noticing age and sun damage even more than the face sometimes. It isn’t important to be the tannest one in the room! But also don’t be scared of the sun! We need Vitamin D as human beings or we can develop health problems and diseases. Just be smart about it. Love your skin now because in your 40s, you’ll long for that youthful, plump epidermis🙄 It is all about balance…

Take care of your body in your 20s! It’ll be way easier to keep it healthy and in shape when your are in your 40s…or 80s! Trust me! Many of my clients have just started doing resistance/load bearing exercise in their 60, 70, or 80s! It was much harder for them by not already having the groundwork in place. And your bones will thank you for always caring and not taking them for granted. Someday they’ll be less dense and more susceptible to break if you don’t do something now! You WILL want the lean mass as you get older. More protection from falls, not to mention a faster metabolism! And it is SO much easier to lose the unhealthy extra weight when you are young- it only gets harder to lose. It’ll sneak up on you…

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Appreciate real sugar! Yes, I said sugar! If you are going to have it, make it REAL! My younger self did NOT need all of the scientifically derived versions of sugar. My body would’ve been ok with the real stuff if I was eating healthy the majority of the time and exercising. I’m not sure if dancing and drinking three nights a week counted??🤔

Learn how to do without every little thing that you thought you MUST HAVE, unless you have the money saved for it or you have extra in your budget. Trust me, there will be enough “emergencies” that will smack you down when you don’t have the money. You don’t need to compound the issue! Then you are forced to take extreme measures. Use credit cards the way they should be used- pay them off each and every month. And use a card with cash back (put it in savings!) or airline mileage so you can take that trip you dream of, without the extra burden of expensive flights!

And take that trip! Don’t say that you need to work more and you’ll travel when you get older. You just might be diagnosed with a disease that limits your ability to enjoy travel. And we don’t have a guarantee on our lifespans. Find the balance of work while also enjoying making memories with your loved ones and experiencing the beautiful planet we inhabit. Again, find the balance…

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There are so many things that we could all tell our younger selves. Many of the things I wouldn’t take back- they were learning lessons that molded me into the person I am now. But I also wish I would’ve listened to the wisdom of some of those who offered. What would you tell your younger self? Write it down and share with your children or a loved one of the next generation. Maybe they could learn a few things from you…

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