Lessons from my 20’s I’d Like to Unlearn

I love the Brad Paisley song Letter to Me that allows his current older and wiser self to hypothetically go back and give advice to his younger 17-year-old self.


I truly wish that Marty McFly would show up in his silver DeLorean and let me go back in time to give sage advice to my younger self, but for me it wouldn’t be the teenage me. For me, since I was a notorious late-bloomer, I would love to go back to twenty-year old me since so much happened in my 20’s (good and bad) that has influenced (good and bad) who I am today. Here are something’s I’d like to go back and tell twenty-year-old ME:

Take Care of You: As a freelancer magazine writer, I have written sooooo many cancer-survivor stories this last year it makes my hair stand on end. Though I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from those amazing women who beat cancer and survived, I have learned much. And what I’ve learned has scared the crap outta me.

I recently learned that studies have shown that 70% of cancer is influenced by diet and environment. In my 20’s, I was more concerned with looking good in my Gitano jeans then eating healthy and feeding my body good food. I can honestly say, dieting and diet fads have been on my radar for years. I’ve done the cabbage soup diet, gone the whole Weight Watcher shakes routine and even tried starving myself to lose weight. The sad thing is, I never had success for more than a few months. The even sadder thing is that I cringe to think what I have done to my body because of it.

There was also a time when I was a huge pop drinker and 7-up was my drug of choice. Truth be told, cancer thrives on sugar so let this be a warning to you to step away from that garbage now before it turns your innards odd colors or you get a diagnosis from a doctor you aren’t prepared for. I would love to go back to 20-year-old me and say,  “Feed your body well.” Sure, money was tight back then and Burger King seemed like a quick-n-easy option, but how we feed our bodies directly influences out health outcomes later in life. Yes, I agree it costs more to eat healthy and Pot Pies that are two-for-a-buck seems like a better choice than two Honey Crisp apples for the same price. But if you think healthy food is too expensive, I am pretty sure bad health is even more expensive. No one should ever feel too busy to too broke to eat healthy and take care themselves.

Stop Being Too Busy for Your Family: I deeply loved my dad, but we bickered all through my teenage years. I became so busy with life that I didn’t give my family the time and attention they deserved. I got married in April of 1988 and dad died six months later. That’s all I’ve got to say about that. Love ’em while you got ’em, people.

Careers Are NOT Like Marriage: Somewhere along the line we were fed a bill of goods that stated that we need to pick our career choice fresh out of high-school, go to college for said career choice, and be stuck with that career the rest of our lives. The reality is; careers are not like marriages and you are not committed to one until “death do you part.” The aspirations, skills and passions that we possessed in our 20’s sometimes don’t match the aspirations, skills and passion we possess in our forties. Women everywhere are making this realization, doing a 360, and pursing completely new jobs and careers in the second half of their life. Whatever it is you feel you should be doing, or want to change about yourself, now is the time to do it and don’t let age be the deciding factor.

You Can Save Money Later: I can honestly say that, in my 20’s, I made some major bank. It was back during a time when I was childless and the economy was fat and happy. Back then I distinctly remember my gut instinct telling me….no, nagging me to save my money, stockpile it away or invest it. But my 20-something self became more interested (thanks to outside influences) to live for today and worry about the future later. I drove ridiculously extravagant vehicles and blew money on Big Kid Toys that myself and my husband could enjoy. When I left my 20’s and headed for my 30’s life began to drastically change. Then in my 40’s the crap really hit the fan as my career hit the skids and the economy tanked (majorly impacting my income). Looking back,  I truly, truly wish I had a nest egg from those fat-n-happy days to fall back on. My transition from being an employee to a work-at-home professional would have still happened, but it would have been with a ton less worry, strife and sacrifice.

Money will never define you. You define your money. When you are starting out in your 20s, it is natural to think about all that you will have and do once you start making money, and making more money. That gives money way too much power over your life. It’s not about how much you make, but the life that you make with the money you have.-Suze Orman

What would you tell 20-year old you?


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One thought on “Lessons from my 20’s I’d Like to Unlearn

  1. Wow, what a great topic. I would tell my 20 year old self to pursue what makes you happy, not the safe career everyone is telling you to pursue. Oh, and that interest in computers, yeah, it isn’t just for boys. Really, it isn’t. Keep exercising. I know you hate it but it is good for you. Oh, and guess what… you don’t need to own a big house to have a happy life and/or family. You really don’t. Especially when you would rather be out and about than being stuck taking care of the house.

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