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21 Things That I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self

- Samantha Rouget -

I recently turned 21 - and while it was not celebrated the way that is expected when you turn 21 in Australia (due to Victoria’s lockdown laws), I spent some time thinking about lessons I have learned over the years.

I know I would not be where I am now without all the varied experiences I’ve had, however, I often find myself wishing I could tell my younger self some things.

So here it is - 21 things that I wish I could tell my younger self:

1) Your parents truly love you and want the best for you. Listen to them. Trust them. Love them. Honour them. Help them. When they say that you should wear a jacket, it’s probably because it’s cold outside - not because they are trying to cramp your ‘style’.

2) Focus on how you react to things — you can’t change a situation, but you can determine how you react. As the old saying goes, “be a bottle of water, not a bottle of soda.”

3) Technology is cool and can help you do fun and interesting things. But keep it in perspective; don’t let it consume you. Life in the real world is far more meaningful and important. And more fun than staring at your phone all day.

As you can see, I really wanted a car when I was younger. This one was much cheaper to run than my little Mazda 3.

4) Food is your friend. It fuels your body. If your body is hungry, feed it - your body is a vehicle filled with potential and fuelled by nourishment. Don’t punish yourself by not eating. I can promise you right now you will just end up cranky and tired.

5) Try new things — whether that is food, experiences or jobs — just do it. I was fortunate enough to go to China for a five-week long school trip in Year 9. From scorpions to goats testicles (yes, you read that right), I tried everything I was offered at this one night market. While nothing I ate at that market tasted all that good, it is now a night full of memories and an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

6) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You can’t learn anything without making mistakes. Bravery gets women places. In the words of June Yee Felix, President of Verifone Europe, “there’s amazing opportunities for women today, and it’s for us to take them.” You will discover there are no limits to what is possible in life if you put your fear aside.

7) Don’t cry over that boy, because, in a few years time, you will realise how grateful you are that you didn’t end up with him. You’ll be so happy that you didn’t end up with that guy who made you feel unwanted, because one day, someone else will come along and realise just how special you are.

8) Be patient. Good things come to those who wait.

9) Don’t let people use you as a doormat. Stand up for yourself (ESPECIALLY in the workplace). If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t - for example, if you feel like you’re doing more than what you’re being paid for, you probably are. If you feel that someone isn’t pulling their weight, they probably aren’t. Speak up.

10) Your weight and size don’t determine your worth. I wish I had have listened to my mum (refer to point number one) when she told me not to buy that detox tea, or not to do that super dangerous and unhealthy diet. In the short term, restrictive diets can contribute to stress, tiredness and limit our capacity to work. Eating less than 100 calories per day is a sure way of ensuring you will be tired and cranky, too. You don’t owe society a body that you have to sacrifice your mental and physical health and wellbeing for.

11) Live in the moment and enjoy things while they last. As a little kid I can remember always saying that I couldn’t wait to be a “grown up”. I wish that I could have appreciated how uncomplicated things were a little more - no bills to pay, having people around you to make your decisions and not having any responsibilities.

Just me and my best friend (Doug) enjoying some salt water on a small holiday last year.

12) Salt water heals most things (whether that is sweat, tears or the ocean is completely up to you). Go to the beach more. Cry more. Move your body more.

13) STOP RELYING ON EXTERNAL VALIDATION. This one will never get old. That person’s opinion of you really doesn’t matter. You can’t please everyone.

14) You can’t be selective with family, so choose your friends wisely. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh until your tummy hurts. Spend your time with people who raise you up, not bring you down.

15) My most favourite quote is “be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.”

16) Trust yourself. I wish that I had valued my own instincts, and allowed myself to feel confident in my decisions.

17) In the words of Leslie Lovato, “make your invisible work visible. If you don’t communicate your value, no one else is going to do it for you.”

18) Don’t apologise for asking questions. Don’t apologise for asking how to do something at work, or for clarity if you don’t understand something. Asking questions plays such a vital role in learning. If you don’t ask you will never know!

19) The sooner you get comfortable with difficult conversations and confronting uncomfortable truths, the better everything will be — at both home and work.

20) Time is precious, so use it wisely — if something is making you miserable, don’t do it. For example, if you don’t like being around that person - be it a friend, a family member, a colleague or a partner - don’t waste your time. You will be much better off without them, if they are bringing you down.

21) There’s only one person who cares about your career (HINT: it’s NOT your boss). Take charge of your career and look after yourself at work.

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