I think we all eventually get to a point in life where we feel like maybe we didn't always make all of the best decisions. Maybe we spent time with the wrong crowd, didn't listen to our mother's enough or simply acted like a straight-up jackass. Considering these things in retrospect won't change the outcomes that occurred, but it may give us some sense of security in knowing that people change. We get smarter, better and stronger through every experience we encounter.

Before I went to college, I had a pretty solid amount of unrealistic expectations about life that led me to spend too much valuable time questioning my value. In order to reflect on this positively, here's a list of 5 things I wish I'd told myself before college, hell maybe even before high school.

1. Don't take criticism personally.


We all make stuff that sucks. Even if we think it's really really choice. Feedback is meant to help you grow, not push you into a fear of never going back to that thing again. I wish in all of the times I questioned my value because I had to endure criticism that made me feel like shit, I'd used that energy to produce something greater.

2. Don't use others to validate your existence.

Friends validate existence

Don't get me wrong, friends and relationships are important to have, but your worth should never be determined by who is around you. You, in all of your unique ways, bring something to every relationship. To think that your life is only worth living if you have someone to share every experience with is foolish. Never disregard the merit in enjoying time with yourself.

3. Try things you're scared of.

Overcome your fears

I don't care if it's food, a blind date or going to a new place. Exploring what you're afraid of will likely have one of two outcomes:

1. You'll have a valid excuse for why that thing scares you and why you have no interest in it.

or the more likely outcome...

2. You'll surprise yourself by discovering your fear was rooted in nothing. That the fear was really just accepting something new, not actually doing that thing.

4. Be honest with yourself.

Know yourself

Imposter syndrome is a real thing that we all experience. Projecting the lives of others onto ourselves or thinking that success is a game of comparison and not about achieving a sense of comfort unique to you will only yield negative results. I can't express how much I wish I could go back and spend more time being me. Since embracing that, I've only found more genuine connections and that I leave a much more lasting impression.

5. Spend more time being present.

Be present

I have to admit, this is something I still haven't mastered, but at least I'm trying. In a world where our lives revolve around a digital universe, it's important to take some time to stop and smell the roses. Focus on listening for the sake of listening, not just listening to respond. Focus on the things you appreciate that are in front of you, instead of obsessing over all of the things you might not have.

Maybe you too have things you wish you could have told yourself earlier. If so, I encourage you to sit back and think of what you know now and how that has impacted the person you are today. Knowing the kind of person you want to be and acknowledging how far you have come is something we rarely give ourselves credit for. I suggest you give it a shot.