Although I'm still very young and have a lot to learn, I think I've come a long way from where I used to be. Or at least that's what I like to tell myself. It's always interesting to look back and see how different things were and think about how certain situations may have played out differently if we knew then what we knew now. Here are the three things I wish I understood more when I was younger.
1. Stop trying to grow up so fast
Many people tend to forget that life isn't a race and the more you treat it as such, the more you'll gloss over all important experiences you may never get back. I distinctly remember just looking around at the people passing by wishing I could be older and freer and staying up all night with my friends wondering what our lives would be like. I began to rationalize every unfortunate situation by telling myself that things sucked then, but in the future, it would be vastly different. What started as a seemingly harmless coping mechanism grew into an unhealthy fixation on the future.
I focused so much on how great my life would be in the future that I skipped over all the important steps I needed to take before then. I wasn't building up to my future, I was standing in the same spot as life moved on and that successful future I had been so engrossed in moved further and further away. There's a time for everything. What I had forgotten was that with all the fun things that you get for growing up, come a lot of not-so-fun things. Yes, I can go and buy myself bubble tea whenever I want, but my bank account and credit card bills may say otherwise.
2. It's OK not to know exactly where you want to end up
Growing up, I was most passionate about theatre and anything involving art or performing, really. With this in mind, the only career paths I really saw were being a Broadway star or some famous singer. This was all fun and games as a kid until the harsh reality set in that this may not be the most financially realistic choice for me. I'm a strong believer in doing what you love, but I also know that you don't have to be doing what you're most passionate about as your main career to be happy, especially if being financially stable is in your list of to-dos. This was devastating for me as I suddenly felt lost in what I wanted to do when I grew up. Honestly, I thought about all of this way too young but it is what it is.
Not knowing what you want to do is perfectly fine. Tons of people in college, and even many adults don't know what they want to do and there is nothing wrong with that. The key is continually taking steps to figure out what you want to do. As long as you are helping yourself grow as a person and expand your skill set, have faith that you will figure it out eventually. I was set on going into PR since my sophomore year of high school until about a week or two ago when I realized that I felt more at home in experimental marketing and event production. A single job interview uprooted five years of being set on what I was going to do. You're going to change, your interests are going to develop and you will, quite possibly, end up doing something entirely different than what you may have originally imagined. Don't freak out if you don't think you "have it together" because, in reality, who actually does?
3. Learn everything you possibly can and stop telling yourself you'll "get to it eventually"
Looking back, I wasted an insane amount of time when I was younger; it's a shame I didn't realize its value until now. Growing up, you think you have all of the time in the world and you do (but not really). I'm in disbelief of how much I could've learned and accomplished if I had just used my time wisely. Life is short and you can never predict what will happen in the future so if you want to do something or learn something, there is absolutely no better time than right now. How many times have you pushed back doing something only to have it never happen?
Take New Year's Resolutions, for example. I think they're ridiculous. They are just an excuse for people to postpone having to do what they want, or are supposed to be doing, only for them to declare it to the world to seem like they're productive on a "special day." But what happens? They work towards accomplishing their goal for a while with the motivation of "new year, new me" fresh in their minds but pretty soon they revert right back to their old ways. If you want to get something done, don't wait. At the very least, acknowledge that saying you'll do it in the future really means you'll probably never get to it.
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If I'm being really honest, if I could go back and change certain parts of my past, I wouldn't. No matter how awful something I went through may have been, I firmly believe that every decision I've made thus far has helped shape who I am. Even the smallest change of decision could alter things I couldn't even imagine. Are there other great ways I could've turned out and learned certain lessons? Of course. But, because hopping into a DeLorean and Back-to-the-Future-ing it isn't an option, we need not concern ourselves with such thoughts. This article isn't meant to make you regret your past or to resent decisions you've made. Everything happens for a reason and all you can really do is continue to learn and seek the understanding you can only from exploring the world around you.