As I get older, I think back on the things that I did as a teen and a young adult and wonder what I was thinking. There are so many things that go on in the life of a young adult now that it's nearly impossible to figure out what's supposed to happen. And people will give opinions about how you're supposed to behave and what you believe, but in the end it's all about you. It's all about what you are and who you are and how you want to live your life.
I've been thinking for the past few days, as I think about my sister graduating from university and the years that have passed since my own graduation, and it's occurred to me that there are a lot of things I wish I could go back and tell the younger me. Things that would have changed the way I lived my life and where I am right now. It sounds cliche and more than a little stupid, but I know that there are choices that I would have made differently if I'd known what I know now.
So here are some of the things that I would tell a younger me:
Follow your instincts. I started out university as an education major, but switched to science because I was talked out of teaching and into a "better paying" job market. But I knew deep inside that I wanted to be a teacher, and now I'm five years out of graduation trying to figure out how to get into the teaching game. I should have followed my first instinct and not let anyone talk me out of what I wanted because of their own bad experience with it.
Learn to take care of yourself. This is something I still have trouble with, but I'm getting better. But as a young adult, it was all about the grades and the community service and the job. I never got a chance to really sit down and take care of myself like I should have. I didn't go through my own emotions and figure out what they were and what they meant to me. And now I'm living with the consequences of keeping everything bottled up for so long.
Make your own conclusions. I think of myself as a smart girl. I think that I have the capability to take on the information that is coming my way and figure out what to do with that. But I spent a large portion of my life being "brainwashed" into believing that something was right and something was wrong based on someone else's opinions. Now I have to come to terms with the fact that what I was told might not have been right.
Figure out who you are. And do it on purpose. Dolly Parton was right. You have to figure out who you are, what you want, and what you believe. And then you have to act on it, take it out into the world and do what you have to do to make sure that you are being true to yourself. I never knew that as a young adult, and I wish I did.