Thankfully, over time, I've learned a thing or two. And even though I know with certainty that I'll remember the lessons, I still sometimes wish I had just known these things back then, and didn't put myself through the misery of learning. or that maybe I had listened to people when they told me the exact things I ended up figuring out the hard way.
- Drinking is kind of stupid. I grew up in a dry house, so I never really understood what it meant to be drunk. I mostly just thought it meant that you got funnier, since that was what would happen to my grandpa and uncles at family weddings and stuff. And while yes, being funny can be a nice side effect of the drinking, mostly it just makes you stupid(er). The first time I got drunk, I called my parents at 2:30 in the morning and cried. Not exactly my proudest moment. Also, the aftermath of drinking is awful. Holler if you feel me. (Side note: this is not to say that I don't both enjoy and fully support the idea of having a cocktail or glass of wine or two occasionally. But seriously....drink responsibly. Nobody wants to be this guy.)
- Naps are the best thing ever, so do not underestimate their importance. I did NOT fully appreciate or take advantage of the ability to randomly sleep for a couple hours in the middle of the day. And now I have to do like, real work and stuff during the day.... Lame. Take naps, people. They're awesome.
- Don't get a credit card. I never knew or understood how the whole credit thing worked, so when I got to college and started getting random credit card offers in the mail, I got one. And then I got another one. And then I wracked up a bunch of debt and got myself into a bit of a mess. It's taken a long time for me to figure out how it all works and how to fix it, but if I had just known/followed some advice to ignore the whole dang thing to begin with, it wouldn't have been such a rotten few years.
- People are smooth talkers when they want something. You will meet someone - or if you're me, more than one someone - who will take advantage of your naivete, who will manipulate you for their own selfish purposes. Don't just trust everybody because that's all you've ever done and it worked out for you while you were being homeschooled in the aforementioned tiny town and hardly interacted with anyone outside of church. It doesn't always turn out well.
- Figure out what it is that makes you special, and don't settle for anyone who doesn't agree with you. The importance of this really can't be overstated. I spent a lot of time flitting about from friend group to friend group, wanting desperately to fit in somewhere and never quite understanding why I didn't. Looking back, it's so easy for me to see that I was just completely lost. I didn't know who I was, or what I wanted to be about. I could have saved myself a lot of hurt if I had taken some time to figure out who I am, and instead of just running around trying to be popular (and instead probably looking very much like the desperate person I was), learned how to be alone until the right people came along.
- Sort of keeping with the theme of the last item, define your values. Know your lines for morality and ethics, and refuse to compromise. Sure, they will shift a bit on their own as you change and learn and grow, and that's okay. Just don't change your values, or allow yourself to get swept up in someone else's. Draw your lines in the sand, and stand firm. The people who deserve to be in your life won't ask you to move them.
- Learn when and how to put yourself first. It doesn't make you a bitch. It doesn't make you a snob. What it does do, however, is keep you from going completely crazy trying to please everybody else. Even the best, most generous of us wear down sometimes, and it's completely okay to step back from trying to meet everybody else's needs so you can focus on meeting your own.
- Last, but certainly not least, love yourself. It's not always easy, and there may be times when it seems downright impossible. But if you don't love and respect yourself, then who will? Confidence and self-awareness is attractive. You may not be the hottest or the most "popular" person in the room...but when you love yourself for who you are, you will be loved by others who love you for exactly who you are, too.
So now it's your turn. What do you wish you had known a decade ago?