New Year’s Advice I Failed to Heed.

Is it ‘failed to heed’ if I never received it? Would that I had: things might have been different if I’d taken the road not taken. Or not – I’ve never been one to listen to other people. It’s a personal and species-based flaw. But once the question was posed, what advice would I give to my teenage self, my mental floodgates opened. I’d say a lot of things to my younger self. Or even to a teen of today. They likely won’t listen – mine certainly didn’t – but I haven’t been on the receiving end of a good eye-roll in quite some time, and I miss it.

I also miss not knowing everything – I did when I was younger. I won’t bother telling my teenage self that she isn’t the empress of knowledge. My arrogance barely allows me to admit that truth now. Besides, believing in my intelligence was often the only thing I had: why would I take that away from an alternate me? What then is some other advice I could share?

Moisturize. You’ll be grateful once you hit fifty. Don’t pick at your face either; leave the imagined imperfections alone. You’ll be very sorry you didn’t.

Save your money. You don’t want that magazine, mascara, or bottle of soda as much as you think. Having money will let you buy the things you really want, and I promise, a twenty-dollar lipstick isn’t it.

Have a plan. I’m in my fifties, and I still feel like a drifter. My mental illnesses have had an impact, but not having a destination or end goal in mind was also problematic. This truth leads us to:

Start dealing with the mental illness, the damage, the trauma, and the eating disorder sooner rather than later. New behaviours are easier to change than entrenched ones. Stop treating the people trying to help like they’re the enemy. Stop treating abusive people like their love is the holy grail.

Learn how to live unafraid. This bit of advice would be especially important to impart. I let fear and anxiety make my decisions, and they did poorly. Be not afraid. Have courage. Take risks. Stand up tall and look people in the eye. Say “no” when you need to and mean it. The consequences of enforcing boundaries were never as dire as I imagined. And, even when they were, I survived.

Be fierce. Be unapologetically you. Why not? I’ve tried being other people, and it has yet to work out or make me happy.

A corollary, a quote from the inestimable Dame Helen Mirren: “At seventy years old, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words ‘fuck off’ much more frequently.”

An excellent piece of advice.

11 thoughts on “New Year’s Advice I Failed to Heed.

        1. Possibly not, though my spirit is still a bit wedded to the idea. Maybe I’m Ponce de Leon reincarnated, doomed to pursue fruitless searches through all my lives. Hopefully not literally fruitless – I like berries 😁

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  1. The “live unafraid” one is so powerful. I’m like you and let fear/anxiety have way to much say over my actions (or lack thereof). Lately I’ve been trying to let fear lead the way — if I’m ever scared or nervous of something I know that’s the way I need to move for personal growth — and it works wonders if you can realize the fear and walk in the face of it.

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    1. When I was in treatment, they used to say “lean in.” A bit similar, I think. Letting fear point the way to where you need to go is a great idea. Happy new year.


  2. I chuckled at the part where you mention not listening to advice. So true. I always found it fascinating to watch those that give advice – they always impart THEIR wisdom, which is impacted by THEIR circumstances. While there are some (mostly) universal truths, there are plenty that are very selective. I cannot help but think that my parents gave me advice THEY thought I would find useful (because that’s what they would have liked to know back in the day) and failed to give me advice on the things that I might have needed more help with. Also, I often found that their advice on certain topics then messed me up on others. No one is perfect. We can only try to live and help live.

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