Advice for your younger self

This 20 year-old wonders what words of wisdom our elder would have offered himself. Read on for his reflections on what he’s learned over the years.

Dear EWC:

Hello! I just turned 20 yesterday! I’m in my 3rd year at university, majoring in English Lit and doing a double minor in Language Studies and Spanish. I don’t have some big issue or conflict that I need guidance through. Really, I just want to know what you would tell yourself at 20. Knowing what you know now, what piece of advice would you bring to your own 20-year-old self to help them get through their twenties. Thank you for your guidance!

DonM replies:

Well, let me wish you a happy birthday a few days late. I hope it was a day with many good memories.
I hope your chosen major and minors reflect something you love. Studying is so much easier when you have a personal investment in the subject matter. A piece of good advice I received was doing what you love, and then find someone who will pay you to do it. Being satisfied in your career is a major component of being satisfied in life. Never do anything just for the money. I had the fortunate experience of doing what I loved for a career and I’m so thankful for that.

I think in my 20s I worried a lot. I worried about whom I’d end up with as a life partner; I worried about finding a job, etc. When you worry you begin asking yourself “what if?” When you do that you conjure up all sorts of negative consequences. “What if I don’t find a job?” “I’ll end up being homeless and living under a bridge.” When you find yourself doing that, ask instead “So, what if… When you do that your entire thought process changes. You begin to focus on alternatives and alternative paths that you can take. Your future will depend upon unforeseen circumstances (both good and bad) and the choices that you make. And, there are always choices. Not to decide is to decide. Inaction is a choice, so never give up the power of your own ability to choose.

In your life there will be good and bad. Some wonderful experiences and some that are unexpected and scary. Be secure in the fact that you will survive, and from any experience, you will learn. Personal confidence grows with life experience. Buy yourself a copy of the book “Oh The Places You’ll Go” and read it. There are many good lessons there that occasionally we need reminders of as we travel through life.

No choice or path has to last forever. We can choose to make changes at any point in our life. They are not always easy, but the power to choose is always with us.

So, these are some of my thoughts at this point in my life. I hope you find some of this useful, and I wish you the best in your future.


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