9 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self
I am at that juncture of life where you like to look back and reflect on life. If we had an undo button in life, we would want to do things or lead life differently. We all get into this “I wish“ space. So taking a cue, here are the top 9 pieces of advice I would like to give to my younger self.
But before I get into these, I have an interesting analogy to share. Have you all heard of the Contrast Effect? The contrast effect is nothing but an unconscious bias that happens when two things are judged in comparison to one another instead of being assessed individually. Or, simply put, our perceptions get altered once we start to compare things to one another.
So why is it relevant to our discussion? This is because probably some of these things that you wished you would or could have done earlier you can do now. And thus realise the importance of these things in your life. Hence there is a comparison available to you now which probably was not available then.
Maybe when you were younger, you did not do or experience these things because of the following reasons:
- Your realities at that point of time were different.
- You did not know or were ignorant of any other way of doing it.
- You prioritized something else over these.
Therefore I like to view this advice not as regrets but as learnings which I have gathered over a few (well, quite a few actually) grey hairs over the years.
- 9 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self
- The Best Advice I Could Give to My Younger Self
- 1. Kill That Self-Doubt
- 2. Have a Positive Engaged Network
- 3. Pursue a Hobby
- 4. Be Open To Taking Calculated Risks in Life
- 5. Not To Take Myself and Life Too Seriously
- 6. Understand and Appreciate the Difference Between Being Assertive and Being Aggressive
- 7. Develop a Habit of Reading
- 8. Take Self-Defense Classes
- 9. Stop Trying To Be Everything to Everyone
- Main Takeaway
- 9 Awesome Pieces of Advice for Your Younger Self
The Best Advice I Could Give to My Younger Self
To start with, getting a better hairstylist. Seriously when I look at pictures of my younger self, I don’t know what on earth I was thinking. I had this weird permed flick that looked like a bird’s nest, and no, I am not putting those pictures here. Leaving it to your imagination.
Apart from that, I have a few more nuggets of advice, and here they go.
1. Kill That Self-Doubt
We, women, have this nagging self-doubt syndrome which comes up always when we need it the least. Self-doubt may stem from many things.
Some of the typical culprits are the guilt of leaving your home/child/family to make a career or taking some time off to manage your other responsibilities. Or simply not being able to spend time networking with your colleagues after office hours.
Believe me, I have gone through all these many times during my early corporate days and often felt that my growth might get impacted or people may not trust me with important projects. Now when I look back, I realise that these fears are baseless. Your capabilities don’t get overshadowed by whatever personal challenges you are facing. As long as you can deliver the results, you are in the game. And you being a Woman, has no bearing on this.
When I look back, I realise so many instances where I did not raise my hand for a particular project or position because of self–doubt or reservations if I would be able to manage my work with my family responsibilities.
Remember, Self-Doubt is the biggest enemy of Self-care. Kill it before it raises its head. And then move ahead.
If you really want something for yourself, you will find a way to make it happen.
2. Have a Positive Engaged Network
When I talk about networks, I don’t mean how many followers you have on social media. By network, I mean actual people you are connected to and are in touch with. You invest time to engage with them periodically and know what’s happening in their lives. Your mode of communication can be social media or otherwise.
I must confess I was quite casual about this in my younger years; as a result, I lost out on important friendships. So when I look back, I have very few people to share my school or college memories with. However, thanks to the school and college WhatsApp groups, I have revived a few of them in the last few years and realise how precious these relationships are.
This is also true for my professional life. I started creating and nurturing my professional network quite late in life once I realised that many times “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” matters. Success is all about working your networks- both caring for existing one and making new contacts.
3. Pursue a Hobby
We all like to indulge in something or the other in our free time. Whether it’s music, dancing, gardening, singing, etc. But I never nurtured a hobby, and I don’t remember why. I probably did not feel the need, or nothing got my fancy during my growing up years which I wanted to pursue.
In hindsight, this was a big mistake. As I grew up, my focus was always studying and making a career, and all other activities were mere distractions. And then after marriage, it was managing home and worked and then my girls came along. Not having time was always an excuse.
It took me so many years and probably a timely break to realize the importance of having something you like to do apart from work which rejuvenates your mind and enriches your soul. We may think that we are nurturing our hobby while all the while our hobby is really nurturing us.
4. Be Open To Taking Calculated Risks in Life
I am an extremely risk-averse person. From eating the same dishes in a restaurant to taking the same route while driving, I’m not particularly eager to change things working for me and move out of my comfort zone.
And outdoor adventures are a No-No. I err on the side of caution always, and that’s by nature.
I, of course, have changed over time and become more open to taking calculated risks with food and adventure sports. But with life, I really need that push (mostly from my husband) to take a leap of faith.
I am sure life would have been a little more colourful if I was open to taking more calculated risks when I was younger.
5. Not To Take Myself and Life Too Seriously
I think this advice corroborates the point made above. You are more open to trying new things and adventures if you take life with a pinch of salt and include a fun/unstructured element.
I was too focused on making a career and worrying about what people would think or talk about me that I ignored the fun element. In striving for perfection and idealism, I missed creating memories that I could laugh at and share as anecdotes with my daughters.
6. Understand and Appreciate the Difference Between Being Assertive and Being Aggressive
In my early years of corporate life, I was very aggressive, again coming from a background of expecting perfect and ideal behaviour (as per my definition) in my relationships, whether they were at work or personal life. It took me some time to understand the difference between being aggressive and assertive and how each one impacts your relationships.
Being assertive means that you listen to the other person and still are respectful, clear and firm on your point. At the same time, aggressive communication means making demands of someone without listening to them or showing them respect. This obviously ruffled some feathers, and I am grateful for the timely mentoring from my supervisors to correct that.
The sooner this realization comes in, the better it is.
Read about more Life Lessons at work in this post.
7. Develop a Habit of Reading
Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. I lost my habit of reading in my college days and picked it up only during the last 1.5 years when we were all locked down in our houses realizing soon what a big loss it has been.
I always had an excuse of not having enough time, but all these were just that – excuses. Thanks to my blogging avatar, I am back to reading some interesting, thought-provoking content.
Having said that, reading habit for 10 minutes a day is all that I needed to sustain this earlier.
8. Take Self-Defense Classes
I was discussing my blog with my niece, and she had this advice for herself. This made me think that this is valid for any person, especially girls in today’s world.
I would have definitely felt more secure if I knew I could defend myself against any individual.
9. Stop Trying To Be Everything to Everyone
I am sure many of you moms out there are nodding your head for this. We want to be the perfect mom, perfect wife, ideal daughter in law and ideal friend. If you are working, please add the perfect employee to the list. And in this entire process, we burn ourselves out. We stretch ourselves trying to please everyone and not taking a much-needed self-care break.
It’s alright if you are too tired to cook your child’s favourite dish or if a pile of clothes lies unattended for a day. You don’t have to be the epitome of perfection every single day, or maybe not at all.
I must confess that I am also guilty of this habit and am trying to change slowly. The urgency of getting things done “perfectly” and stressing myself in the bargain is not a healthy habit.
You only live once, and you can decide whether you want to live your life with regrets or learnings. Don’t be harsh on yourself for what you did not or could not do, but look forward to what you can do now. This is my mantra, and I am trying to work on my advice to myself. Remember, it’s never too late to start afresh.
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a special privilege is to be alive- to breathe, to think and to do what you could not do before… seize the day, take hold of it and do what you want to do.”
If you found these tips useful and feel that someone you know will benefit from them, please do share. They need not necessarily have grey hair to realise the importance of this advice.
A big thanks to my sister Dr Minni Chadha for the artwork on the blog header.
9 Awesome Pieces of Advice for Your Younger Self