Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What I Would Tell My 20 Year-Old Self

I turned 30 this past November.

The way I feel at 30 is the polar opposite of how I felt when I was 20.

I'm about to turn 20, going to Prom 
My 20-something self was a lost, people-pleaser that was more concerned with being liked above anything else. Girls are generally raised to be nice, not necessarily assertive and though I was goal-oriented, by vision was fuzzy and a little naive. I had a warped sense of direction. Here’s what I would have told my 20 year-old self:

1) Set Reasonable Goals – Yes you can aim for the world, but break your goal down to small attainable steps to lead you towards what your bigger vision is for yourself. The point is to not set yourself up for failure, that you beat yourself up and not start over. It really is about small steps. What do you need to do next to get to where you want to be?

2) Forget About Being Liked – People should like you for who you are. If they don’t, too bad – that’s their loss. I wasted a lot of my 20s worrying about being liked. Spend that energy thinking about what you want.  No one else is going to do this for you. I would also like to add that you should not waste any time trying to impress people you don’t like. Trying to be friends with the world is exhausting. See my people-pleaser problem above.

20-something me
3) Have a Social Life – Surround yourself with only positive, fun and supportive people. Extra points if they are like-minded and share similar goals. High school is over, so it’s time to distance yourself from any friends who are negative, bring you down or is a frenemy. The place that brought you together as friends, no longer exists. You know the person in your life that I'm talking about. So seek out new people you like.  Life is too short, so live hard and live well.

4) No One is Perfect – Ok this one is so clich├ęd, but it deserves to be said over and over again. Stop striving for perfection! You’ll drive yourself crazy and not fully be able to stop and enjoy being in the moment.  A better goal is to aim to be happy, instead of perfect. Perfection is overrated. If you ever attain it, you’ll realize how empty it feels. Save your time and energy.

5) Don’t Be a Doormat – If you don’t want to do something, say no. People will try to take advantage of you and use you. Eliminate time-wasters and stop getting sucked into things you don’t want to do. Say no. The world won’t end and life will go on. Always go with your gut. That goes for people, places and things.

Me at U of T
When you break any of the above rules – you’ll know. Oh you will SO know. The universe will tell you and something or everything will feel off-kilter. I recently broke one of the above rules and I knew it in the pit of my stomach. My mind and body felt it right away and it was like, “See? This is what happens, when you repeat any of your past mistakes.” The only difference at 30 is that you learn the consequences (of being too nice, a doormat, trying to impress other people, hanging with frenemies, saying yes to something stupid, or giving too much of yourself away) much faster than you did at 20.

I wish I had could take the confidence I have now at 30, cut it half and share some with myself at 20. However, without the journey of stupid mistakes and life lessons – I wouldn’t be where I am now at 30. Let’s see what I learn in the next 10 years. What would you tell your 20 year-old self? Any hard life lessons you would never repeat again?

Celebrating my 30th birthday with my husband


  1. Great post, Lisa - love the honesty in this. Wow, the things I would tell myself at 20! On the other hand, all those experiences have added up to some incredible outcomes, and I'd hate to not have had those. But still, ya, I'd give anything to bump into, say, my 40 self and find out what she had to say to the 30-yr old. Knowledge is power, after all.

  2. Here Here Lisa! You hit the nail on the head! You are the most important person you'll ever know, very eloquently said the things you have to do to protect and promote health in yourself!Can't wait to hear from your 40 year old self. Life is a fascinating journey after all.