This year I’m turning twenty-nine. I might be a bit early to start thinking about what I would tell myself as a twenty year-old, but because I had the pleasure of watching a bunch of girls who were just at that age last night (kind of like a fly on the wall) it got me to thinking about what I was like.
Truthfully, I was never the kind of person who had no responsibilities whatsoever. I’ve had a job since I was fourteen. I didn’t live in residence at school, so I didn’t get the sorority experience. When others were hitting the bar, I was getting on a GO bus for the two and a half hour ride back to Hamilton through traffic and congestion. After graduating from university I landed my first full-time job a month out of school.
Still, I had a lot of fun in my early twenties, especially when I moved into my first apartment in the Big Smoke (aka Toronto). I sort of made up for the lost years of living carefree in my first two apartments. While I contributed to an RRSP, I spent my money without much regard, I didn’t think much about “the future”, it being an intangible what-if, I dreamed big, I lived hard and I cultivated bad habits (social smoking and drinking). Hardly the kind of life that would make a nun blush. But I still have a few words of wisdom for my younger self because looking back on that life now I can see where I was spinning my wheels. Maybe I’d be further ahead if I had taken these lessons to heart at an earlier age, but I don’t regret getting to this point now. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, right?
These days I’m all about settling down. I live in a great apartment with my boyfriend, I have clear goals for my future income and I’m cultivating a freelance writing and marketing career. I’m also trying to get myself out of the debt I put myself into by not tracking my spending. I don’t have an RRSP any longer because I used it to clear my debt once before (and promptly forgot the lesson such a decision should have taught me.) I’m ready to start saving and clearing my debt-load the right way now.
Here’s what I would tell my 20 year-old-self:
- Chill out. Don’t worry so much about not being at a certain point in your life or the development of a skill, talent, career choice, or whatever. Not only does your intensity scare the bejesus out of people, but it’s actually counter-productive. Worrying about what you can be doing better, faster or whatever means you’re just spinning your wheels instead of doing the work that needs to be done to get there.
- Keep track of your money. You’re going to lose a lot of it to debt.
- Own your goals. You’ve got big dreams, honey, but you don’t even know where to start because you’re lost in the what-ifs of all your dreams. You’re obsessed with doing it all, but you keep forgetting that there’s time for everything. You just need to take it one step at a time. You might not be a musician yet, but keep learning songs and you will! Just look at how you’ve changed over the last ten years. You went from barely being able to stand in front of a mic to jamming with session musicians once a week. You’ll be okay.
- Cultivate lots of interests. When one wanes you can always pick up another and you’ll never be bored.
- Don’t take other people’s words to heart and don’t get so upset when others don’t agree with you or don’t life you. You don’t have to be liked by everyone.
- Don’t be jealous. There’s room for everyone, no matter what.
- There’s more to life than what you’re wearing. This is something I still struggle with. I like fashion, but I forget how expensive it can get. And I tend to have expensive tastes, like Kate Spade purses and shoes. That said, I’ve only ever bought one Kate Spade purse and I’ll have it until my dying day.