Advice For My Younger (and not so younger) Self

Who wouldn’t love the opportunity to go back and help their younger self along with the hard-earned knowledge they’ve acquired? Quite frankly, what follows is advice I still have to remind my current self about, and too regularly for my liking.

It was in 30 days of Time during My Year of TED that I realised the internal image I still held of myself was 15-year-old me — the powerless, weak, bullied and lonely teenager who felt largely invisible in her world. As well as being a shocking and heartbreaking discovery, that realisation helped me understand so many things about myself and some of my limiting beliefs and behaviours.

Since then, I’ve tried hard to shift that internal image to be the strong, capable and loved woman I am today. But that girl is still in there, and sometimes I feel more like her than the woman I’ve become.

I’ve often thought that if she had one adult she trusted, who had tried to share some advice on life, what piece of wisdom would have changed her perception of the world? Honestly, I don’t think anything would; she was too broken by the world to hear anything. But if I could go back and talk to her, this is what I would tell her.

  • Stop being so scared of getting it wrong, because you will get a lot wrong. So embrace that and take more chances!
  • You are going to have your heartbroken — make it by people worth your time.
  • You will fail, a lot — fail doing something you really want to do.
  • You will make an idiot of yourself — at least have fun while you’re at it.
  • You will have some amazing opportunities — take them and make them what you want. They might end in disaster, but they might also lead to something wonderful.
  • Be braver than you think you are — because you are braver than you realise and you are more capable than you currently imagine.
  • Spoil yourself, take care of yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you that either of these things make you selfish.
  • Be kinder and more compassionate to yourself, because you are amazing. Your mistakes and errors will become value lessons. They will help you grow into a wise and wonderful woman — as long as you keep your values in mind while you do all of this, you’ll do it all as a good person.
  • Oh, and your values are equality, fairness and learning — because I know you aren’t sure of that now, but it will become clearer to you as you move through life.
  • Lastly, you are enough. Anyone who doesn’t think so or who tries to convince you otherwise is not worthy of your time or attention. Trust your instinct with this one and leave them to sort their own bullshit out without dragging you down.

I know that would be a lot for her to take in — I still find it problematic to believe some of this now. I also know she wouldn’t accept the majority of it anyway, since I still struggle with bits. But maybe some of this would have triggered something that allowed her to realise her strength and potential much earlier.

In reality though, what I would really love to do is go back and give her a massive hug and tell her it will be okay — maybe that’s all she ever truly needed anyway.