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The Advice We’d Give Our Younger Selves

What decades of experience can teach you.

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Younger hand writing and older hand writing "Be You!"
Amber Day
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Life is hard. Really hard. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, fat or skinny, married or divorced, old or young — you will face times so tough that you just don’t know how you will persevere. You will feel loneliness and despair. You will feel hopeless and exhausted. You will feel frustrated with others and perhaps even more frustrated with yourself. Emotional pain is a guarantee in life and there is no escaping it.

But with this pain comes another guarantee — that you will come out on the other side stronger and smarter and, perhaps, even more compassionate. And that is kind of the purpose of life, isn’t it? To grow. To learn. To overcome. To make it through the toughest times and then look back and say, “Wow, I am pretty amazing.” And when you do smile and laugh again (because you will), you may even exclaim, “Life is amazing, too!” Because it is. The highs wouldn’t exist without the lows and the learning.

I mean the deep soul-changing, pain-induced lessons that stick with us until death do we part. Those lessons can only be learned through experience. And once we learn these lessons, it is kind of our moral duty to share them with our sisterhood. So I asked my own sisterhood, what has experience taught you that you would share with your younger self if you could?

Be Present

The advice I would give myself 25 years ago is to know that happiness happens in singular moments. There is nowhere to get to, no place of happiness or success. A worthwhile life is one that is filled with the small moments of joy we give ourselves and others. Celebrate now!” — Sherry, 56, California

Be You

“I would tell my younger self to learn to be comfortable in your own skin. People love you for who you are, not who you think you want to be. It takes a long time to gain that confidence but once you do, it’s a game changer, and you will be so much happier with YOU.” — Christina, 53, Washington, D.C.

Fail Fast

“Don’t be scared to fail, just learn from every bump in the road so you make better mistakes next time — that is where you learn the most! You learn to do by doing. Course correct and pivot along the way, it makes for a fun career path.” — Paige, 55, Massachusetts

Don’t Compare

“I think the best piece of advice I could give my younger self is never judge the inside of your life, against the outside of everyone else’s.” — Charlene, 55, Massachusetts  

Live and Learn

“Oh, if I could speak to my younger self! I would hold her in my arms and let her know that she has nothing to prove and never did. That she has only — now and always — to learn, love and live.” — Jennifer, 46, Washington, D.C.

Love Yourself

“I would encourage my younger self to embrace all her gifts and find a way to celebrate life by keeping a gratitude journal, doing affirmations or keeping a jar full of things she loves about herself and her life. I would love to have been able to call upon this when I was feeling low in the past.” — Cat, 45, Australia

Judge Not

“I would tell my 25-year-younger self to be more empathetic and less judgmental. By being non-judgmental we naturally become more empathetic. No one ever knows what someone else has gone through and what life experiences have informed their character; judge not!” — Nanno, 72, Connecticut

So, the next time life knocks you with an unexpected one-two punch, take a seat and a deep breath and remember that you will get to the other side of the pain. Lean on the advice of the sisterhood and that of your present and/or future wise-self, and know that your painful struggle serves a purpose. It will make you a better you, a stronger you, a softer you and a smarter you. Then, when the pain passes, you will stand tall, ready to share your lessons, hope and light with the world.

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