My Friends & Family Share Advice They Would Give to Their Younger Self

I’m the youngest of four siblings and I think it’s one of the reasons that I understand human behaviors as well as I do. From the time I can remember, I would observe the things my older brother and sisters would do and then I would try hard not to make the same mistakes. I did almost everything I could not to get in trouble when I was a kid. It still happened but I’m sure it could have been much worse without the lessons I learned from my older siblings. To this day, my siblings claim I was pretty spoiled as a child and they were probably right. But I do think I’ve outgrown it. 

I was sitting with a client last week and she said she was reading up on her Enneagram number and one of the suggestions for her number was, “If the past calls, don’t pick up, it has nothing new to say.” I love advice like this because it helps us put things in perspective for our present self. I also think the pain of past mistakes can help us be better people. 

One of the reasons I wanted to do a month of posts on lessons I’ve learned is to help you find more peace right now. I remember thinking in my 20’s that if I just hit the next goal, checked the next accomplishment off my list or made x amount of money, then I could be content. Because, as you know, life is hard. And then one day, I realized, what if life is just hard, and I need to enjoy this moment, and the next, and not get too far ahead of myself. It was then that I was able to buckle down and make some big emotional, financial and lifestyle changes. Here are a few of the changes I remember making after this epiphany: 

  • We started getting really serious about getting debt free

  • I started caring less about whether or not the house was organized because I knew the boys would be little just so long

  • I stopped pushing through boundaries

  • I started trusting myself more 

  • I started being more realistic with personal goals

  • I reminded myself that life is hard, some seasons of life are harder than others

Honestly, I wish I would have done these things much sooner but that’s just not how life works. I decided to end this month’s theme by asking some friends and family what advice they would give to their younger selves. Hopefully, and regardless of what stage of life you’re in, some of this advice will help you too! I didn’t edit these as I’m grateful for the people who shared some of the most painful parts of their stories with me. I did comment on a few as denoted by ***

On being hurt: 

“Things are going to go wrong, and you are going to get hurt. Despite that, keep following your heart. There will be plenty of times that you will question your decisions. Don’t worry, no matter how bad it seems at the time, you will get through it. Be patient because eventually you will end up with more than you could ever have imagined.” ~Kyle W. 

“Stop letting your past hurt make you try and control your future. Lighten up. You may get hurt. But you have to take those chances to find the opportunities.” ~Jill L. 

On accepting yourself:

“I would tell my younger self that I don’t need to seek approval and acceptance from the opposite sex by being promiscuous. Be confident in who you are and stand up for what is right, even if others don’t agree. You don’t have to do drugs and drink alcohol to fit in with others. Most importantly, I wish I would have had a personal relationship with Christ, then I would not have gone down the path I did. Because all I wanted was to be accepted by my peers.”

“Not worry so much about what others are thinking of me.” ~Jenny P.

“Find things that promote self-confidence and boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.”  ~Courtney M. 

“Other people don’t define your worth.”  ~ Grace P.

***this sometimes includes family members***

“Don’t worry so much about what others think of you. I wish my adult self could still get this!” ~Dana J. 

“Don’t get in a hurry. Set boundaries. Keep them! Don’t stay in a toxic relationship.” ~Rebekah T.

“Appreciate what you have when you have it. For example, I used to think my mom was crazy when she would tell me I looked good when all I could see was my flaws with my body. She would tell me and my younger sister that we would regret not appreciating how we looked when we were older. She was correct, and no surprise. This applies to all areas, not just body image.” ~Deb C. 

“Be comfortable with your own definition of cool. Not everyone is really doing all the things you think they are, and the ones who are, are not the ones to admire. Oh, and pay attention in choir, your older self wants to be able to sing.” ~Erin C. 

“I was just telling a coworker today that I wish I could instill the self confidence I have now in my younger self!” ~Amanda G. 

“Love yourself unconditionally and believe in yourself without limits!”~Gina S. 

On being impulsive: 

“Take your Christian college experience more seriously and don’t crawl out the windows!” ~Pam R.

**I feel like not crawling out windows is just generally good life advice. Nothing good can happen if you have to crawl out a window, right?**

On anxiety: 

“Most of what we are anxious about doesn’t happen. If it does, we can manage better than we thought.” ~Tricia S. 

***research does show 90% of what we worry about doesn’t happen***

“Go to the school dance. Don’t be shy!” ~Barbie H. 

On adjusting your thinking: 

“Better to look for opportunities than back at the past failures or lost opportunities.” ~Tom J. 

“I think I would say to my younger self that life is not all or nothing.” ~Susan E. 

“Learn how to love within God’s limits and love without holding back.” ~Marsha H.

“Questions aren’t bad. You aren’t the only one with those questions. Getting angry isn’t bad either but figure out why you’re angry.”  ~Amy B. 

“Stay true to what you believe. Although you can’t see around what is in front of you, know that there is One who sees the whole parade route. Stay the course, you’re not in this alone.” ~Chris G.

On relationships: 

“Always invest in girlfriends. It is the best way a guy can decide he likes you because he can see you interacting with friends you love.” ~Jill L. 

“Spend more time investing in friendships and being a good friend.” ~Mary G. 

“Spend as much time as possible with family and friends…cherish the moments!” ~Gina S. 

“When people show you who they are, believe them!” ~Mary R. 

“If you are considering marriage, look very, very closely at the nuclear family or your intended. Those will tend to be the expectations of your spouse. The way the father treats his wife sets a pattern for your husband. This is still usually true even if the man sharply disagrees about his father’s behavior. The best thing to know is God will NEVER fail you. You may wait a while. His answers are different than we expect. Having lived nearly 75 years, I attest–God does answer.” ~Joyce G. 

“Don’t move 2000 miles away by yourself. The adventure and independence will never be enough to overcome the lack of relationships or support anywhere nearby. You need people around or close by who know you and care.” ~Jill L. 

“What others think of you is none of your business. That guy is definitely not for you.”  ~Amy B. 

“Spend more time with the ones you love. Strive for success less, just let it come. Live in the present and savor every moment.” ~Margaret B. 

“When you are seeking God’s will for your life thru prayer and yet you truly aren’t listening because you really want things YOUR OWN WAY…STOP IT! Listen to God’s leading. His way is always best and will save you a lot of heartache.” ~Mary G. 

On giving your future self a gift: 

“Student loans aren’t worth it!” ~Jill L. 

“Don’t sweat the small stuff…unnecessary stress will take a toll on us! Treasure “time”…it is precious and you can’t go back! Eat healthier and exercise for future health! LOVE deep and often with a big heart!” ~Deanna M. 

“Don’t worry about timing. Enjoy the present as the future will work itself out.” ~Leslie L. 

“I think the biggest thing would have been to realize that my time has value and using it on myself is okay. It’s okay to say no to things and in doing so I allow myself to give more and be more present in and for the things that matter to me most.” ~Sarah R. 

“Heed the financial investment recommendations my father gave me. We’d be in a better shape saving for retirement had I done that.” ~Kyle C. 

“Jesus is better than you think He is. You’re stronger than you think you are.” ~Kayla H. 

And my personal favorites: 

“You don’t need a summer of Chris in 92. You’ve already got a keeper.” ~Chris F. 

***it only took my husband 29 years to admit that he didn’t need to break up with me in the summer of 92!!!***

“Make sure you stay friends with Lisa Jeffries {Franklin} because she will save you one day.” ~Jacque F. 

***My college roommate has saved me a time or two as well!***

I loved hearing this advice from my friends and family. I know many of their stories and so many of them who have overcome some amazing challenges and continue to be strong in spite of life being hard sometimes. I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Thank you to everyone who shared these lessons from your heart! I hope that we all can continue to share with each other and appreciate the challenges we all have had to overcome at different times in our lives. 

If you’re feeling stuck and not able to get out of a difficult place, I’d be happy to hear what’s happening and figure out if counseling or life coaching could help. Please feel free to contact me at 317.496.0456 or email If you are looking for help with burn out, depression, anxiety, trauma or behavioral concerns, you can read more about how I can help at my website peacefamilycounseling

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