This post may contain affiliate links which means at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission when you use them. Thank you for supporting me in this way! View my full disclosure here.
Wisdom from the voice of retrospect; what I would tell my 20 year old self.
I love learning from others. It is a rich experience and an admirable habit to sit quietly and listen to what others have to say. There is so much wisdom and value to be gained by other’s experiences and mistakes – and what they realized over the course of their long life!
It was time for another article on “life” here on the blog. My last one on traditions was so popular that I recently polled some of my friends, family and acquaintances by asking them, “If you could tell your 20 year old self anything, what would you say?”
There were so many profound answers! Not everyone who responded was a grandparent, but I believe they earned honorable mention.
Note: while this post is not specifically financed based, a lot of the wisdom shared from others can be applied to our goal of being wise with money.
Advice from grandparents
“Apart from learn to drink your coffee intense and black, my starting point would be – when you say yes to something you are saying no to something else. Learn to say NO wisely without having to give an explanation; so value time, establish priorities and don’t lose sight of the important.”
“Looking back, I see myself as a naive, inexperienced, optimistic, ready-for-whatever-life-holds type of person. Even though I didn’t know what the future held, I knew Who held my future, and I believe that has been key to peace with life’s ups and downs. I believe I would remind my 20-year-old self to always remember to ‘enjoy the journey!'”
“Be curious. Hang out with some old people. Hang out with some children. Make your bed. Get involved in a church community. Do volunteer work in a variety of capacities. Habitually exercise. Have an artistic and creative project going at all times. Take classes that have nothing to do with a college major like art, music, theater, tennis, ballroom dancing, writing, and cooking. Your real life doesn’t begin later – after you graduate, after you land a ‘real’ job, after you get married – so fully engage NOW.”
“I would worry less about what people think, realizing you can’t please everyone. I would try to make good choices and then leave them in God’s hands. I’d try more new things and step out of my comfort zone. I would be more adventurous! I would give more of myself away to others. I have come to realize what we consider terrible tragedies, God may not! I would apply myself to learn the lessons God has for me and try to be better for it. I would tell myself God is good and He makes no mistakes!”
“Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t put things off until you have more time, money, the kids are grown. Don’t settle, fight for what you need.”
“There are so many things I would tell myself! Some of the things I wish I had been told are: Sit with older people and just listen in to their conversations. I could have learned so much wisdom from those hoary heads. Read good educational and inspiring books. If you want to be a good leader and be successful in whatever calling God has for you, then you must first be a good listener and follower. Be faithful in little things and then God in time will entrust you to do bigger things. He makes all things beautiful in HIS TIME!”
“Love is not a feeling. It is a decision, a commitment to love and cherish someone unconditionally, through the rough times and the good times. There would be a lot less divorce if we would refuse to see it as an option and instead work our way through things. You come out stronger, richer, more in love on the other side. Sometimes you just have to stay committed and not expect to ‘feel’ like it.”
From the voices of those in their 30’s & 40’s
“The magic, personal fulfillment and stability of your 40’s, 50’s and 60’s comes from the wise choices, big dreams and foundations of your 20’s and 30’s! Choose wisely, dream way bigger than you think is possible, ground yourself with solid decisions and great friendships – you’re literally building the foundation for the rest of your life! Enjoy the little moments while dreaming and planning for the bigger moments. Realize that your life purpose is way bigger than you, then fasten your seat belt and enjoy the RIDE!”
“My grandma would always say authenticity and confidence is the strongest form of beauty.”
“Talk to your grandparents about their lives before they married and their early marriage. Talk to the older family members and remember their stories. Keep writing, or you will forget how much you love it. Learn a different language. Start a savings account and don’t touch it. Eat better and exercise more because this body isn’t sticking around forever.”
“I wish I would have paid more attention to my grandparents trials and tribulations, listened and asked more about their stories.”
“I would tell myself that what my parents thought of a girl that I brought home was super important. If they didn’t like her, be done with her ASAP. Would’ve saved me a lot of time and heartache…as I seemed to fit the very definition of insanity.”
“I would ask my grandfather about his army experience. All those memories are lost now. Take every opportunity to try new things and see new places. Don’t be afraid of meeting people who see things differently. It will sharpen your belief system. Don’t get caught up in ‘I must get married soon’ thinking. Enjoy the single years.”
“I would tell myself to relax, truly enjoy my kids while they’re little, notice the simple beauty in everyday things, find people who like me for who I am and not because I fit a box, and don’t force anything… except learning how to walk on my hands before it’s too late.”
“I would tell myself to go ahead and marry the man I love while I’m young and start our family right away, like we did. I have no regrets, but do have mixed feelings when I read so much encouragement to kids to be sure they travel and have as many experiences as possible before settling down. If you’re waiting on that one true love, by all means, see and experience as much as you can and don’t sit on your butt waiting for your life to start. But I wouldn’t trade a world of experiences and travel for what we did and have. I love traveling and still hope to see more of the world someday, but I don’t believe it can possibly compare to giving the best years of my life to my family and little ones.”
“I would say to help and serve while you are flexible and have time and energy! I only wish I had more now that I know how having my own husband and kids makes serving and helping others look so different.”
“Be you. Don’t care so much about how to fit in, don’t compromise your heart to keep your ‘friends’, don’t be afraid of your feelings, be true to you. Have courage and be kind.”
“I would tell myself to read all the books (literature), listen to all the music, go to the concerts, travel, write poetry, and intentionally make friends that are very different than yourself.”
“You’re unlikely to have great successes all by yourself. So work with others to accomplish your goals. Get a mentor or partner for things such as spiritual accountability for staying in the word, victory over sin, finances, business, fitness. I feel like I’m just learning this and it’s huge.”
“Don’t make marriage your main focus and choose to find joy in the life you are living today.”
“Recognize the places and people with which you don’t belong, and be okay with that. Don’t donate your conscience and brain just to please people. You can say goodbye and acknowledge the truth without being hateful and rebellious. Your parents and teachers are not God. Don’t rush life, enjoy the process not just the results. Be free. Go see the world. Listen, watch and learn. Educate yourself. Learn to overcome your faults. Learn habits of excellence. Don’t be in a hurry to get married and ‘start life, it’s already well on its way. Embrace it right where it’s at.”
“Don’t be so anxious and enjoy life. Stop trying to grow up quickly or you’ll end up settling.”
“Allow yourself to enjoy life and experience life in the moment. Try to not focus on all that is to come but rather be present in where you are today. You experience so many changes in your 20s and 30s and it’s so easy to get caught up in what’s to come and forget to enjoy where you are at today! And have fun with it!”
“You’re gonna screw up, you’re gonna fail at something, and you will probably beat yourself up over it more than necessary. But the beauty of it is that no matter what what you do or don’t do, God will forgive you and welcome you with open arms. And whatever it was that didn’t work out, you can use that experience to make things even better the next time around.”
“You will be a different person in different stages of your life. Take away message to that is, cut other people slack regarding their decisions and mistakes.”
“If I could tell my 20 year old self anything, I would say…. start saving. Even if you put aside just a little, do it regularly.”
“Don’t worry about trying to figure it all out now. It will take all of your 20’s and most of your 30’s to figure it all out– and maybe not even then! Oh and pursue Jesus sooner – like for real!”
Work & Career related, all ages
“As far as a career, try a bunch of new things, even if you’re not sure what you want to do. The next ten years will be an amazing succession of experiments, and once they start working (plus you find satisfaction) you’ll have gotten pretty close to your career purpose. Also, really listen to people. Truly engage and value their time. Everyone has something you can learn from, even if it’s to learn what not to do.”
“Don’t let fear hold you back. Step out of your comfort zone, stop worrying about what others think, and do it scared because that’s when amazing things happen!”
“Everything you think adulthood will look like, it’s not. You won’t have it altogether. That feeling of not really feeling like an adult literally doesn’t go away. You are an adult and have to do adult things but you will always feel like an impostor.”
“Embrace your quirks. Forget what others think about you. Those who love and cherish you love you for all of your weirdness and quirks, plus it’s what makes this world so much better – having your weirdness in the world.”
“You’ll NEVER have it all figured out – go for it anyway.”
And lastly, sage advice from our 93 year old Grandpa
What advice would you give yourself? What is the best piece of advice you were ever given? How might your “now” look different had you listened?