My 10 Best Bits of Life Advice
If I could give my younger self some advice, I’d tell her a couple of things:
1. Stay open. Don’t be closed-minded. If someone has a different opinion than you, genuinely listen to it. They might be ill-informed, or they might have different values than yours, or they might actually modify your opinion on a topic. Either way, part of growing is staying open and keeping your ideas somewhat fluid. That said, if someone says something based on contempt, feel free to tell them to shut the hell up.
2. Don’t take people’s opinions (of issues, politics, other people, etc.) as fact. Ask pointed questions – dig! – to find out what a person really believes. Often, you’ll find that people are just repeating things they’ve heard without really understanding it. For example, if they say they’re “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” ask “why fiscally conservative?” – what specific things do they think the government should cut back on? What social initiatives do you think the government should fund, and why?
Which brings me to:
3. Learn about politics. It matters. And it’s a great way to find out someone’s core values. How they feel about welfare, women’s rights / pay equity, and other issues is a reflection of that person’s core values. Ask them why they feel that way. It’s often difficult to find out what a person’s core values are other ways – talking about politics gets to the root quickly.
4. Some people just want to bring you down, for no reason. No reason that you’ll ever figure out, anyway. Whatever excuse they use to try to hurt you, it won’t be the real reason they’re upset.
They’re upset because they’re jealous, or because they don’t like themself in comparison to you, but instead of admitting that, they find an unrelated excuse to blame their feelings on you.
I know it’s hard to understand, but some people simply won’t listen to reason. They can’t be convinced that they’re wrong. Why? Because they aren’t engaging the higher-thinking part of their brain. The more you try to convince them they’re wrong, the more they’ll try to prove their right and (illogically) get even more entrenched in their misguided emotions and ideas.
5. I know it’s really hard sometimes, but try not to feel sorry for yourself. It won’t get you anywhere. Learn to meditate instead. As Helen Keller said, “Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything good in the world.”
6. Don’t waste energy stressing about anyone you’re not going to marry, and don’t worry about finding The One, because when the time is right it’ll be 100% obvious to you. In the meantime, don’t worry about having a boyfriend or love or what he’s thinking or if he likes you. Pick up some hobbies and learn to love yourself and your alone time.
No matter what your relationship is like or how much time you’ve put into it, if he can turn off his compassion for you and doesn’t treat you with love in the middle of a heated argument (or if he likes to argue), then ditch him. Same with if he doesn’t say sorry quickly. A mature man will apologize (for hurting you) and try to see things from your point of view, even if he didn’t think it was his fault. Don’t put up with shit, you’ll just end up regretting it.
Plus, wasting time with guys who aren’t your soul mate just increases the chances that your soul mate will come and go while you’re distracted with some guy who doesn’t matter to your life. That said, don’t be on the hunt for your soul mate – it’ll make you more likely to settle or project “soul mate” status onto someone who doesn’t deserve it, just because you want it too much.
Foster friendships instead. This will help you to see a guy for who he really is, over time. Go out with him and his friends – what are they like? When the The One comes along, you’ll just know, and it won’t be based solely on a feeling, it’ll be because he’s kind, intelligent, and right for you — and because of a feeling.
7. You’re going to change a lot in your 20’s. Try new things. Experiment. Meditate. Read self-help books. Do everything you can to grow as a person and figure out what is truly important to you at your core. (It’s not owning more stuff or having good hair!) It’s okay to outgrow and change your friends if you discover that they aren’t maturing as people and don’t have decent values.
It’s also important to remember that with every year that passes, as you grow and evolve, you’ll get much clearer on what you’re looking for in life, friendships and your career. What you need in a boyfriend will also change dramatically.
8. Sex clouds things. When I was single, if I was interested in dating a guy, I waited at least a few weeks, often longer, before getting naked with him. I waited until I knew he wasn’t seeing anyone else, and until I felt 110% comfortable. You may not want to admit it, but chemicals are released in our brains when we have sex with someone, and they create a false feeling of closeness. Get to know someone first, so you can see if they’re even worth being with. A good guy who cares about you absolutely will not pressure you, so if a guy does, you should drop him immediately, because he’s only after one thing.
9. Adopt two cats from a shelter (pick two that already get along). Treat them with kindness at all times and they’ll meaningfully improve your life. (Say good-bye to loneliness!)
10. Don’t worry about what you have and what others have. It honestly has no lasting bearing on your happiness. Nobody ever said this on their deathbed:
What advice would you give?