34 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger (From A 34-Year-Old)

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“I turned 34 today. (I know, right? How in the actual world did that happen? I was 21 like two seconds ago.) The past is the past. I can’t go back in time and teach these 34 truths to my younger self, but I can re-learn them today. I can use them right now and build a brighter future for myself and for my family tomorrow.

I can also share them with you, and I hope you’ll turn around and share them with others — your friends, your sisters, your daughters and your sons. That is the most beautiful gift of all, passing a little light and a lot of love from one person to the next, from one generation to the next.

1. Be Yourself

Not everyone is going to like you and it’s fine. Be kind. Be fun. Be yourself. Give them your very best self and then move along if you need to. There’s a whole world of people out there, and some of them just weren’t made for you, and you weren’t made for them. Trust me, it’s fine.

2. Nobody Cares About How You Look

Nobody cares all that much about the way you look. Don’t decline an invitation because you have a giant zit on your forehead. Don’t have a bad attitude because your hair is being frizzy and doing that weird loopy thing. Don’t take two hours to put on five layers of foundation. Your looks will never be the most important part about you, and somebody who can’t see past your appearance…well, shame on them.

3. Embrace Your Purpose NOW

You have a purpose NOW. Yes, you’re working really hard to build a future, and that’s great. But your life matters now. You have work to do right where you are standing. There are people who need what you have right in front of your face. Don’t wait for tomorrow to become somebody who matters, become that somebody now.

4. Broken Hearts Will Make You Stronger

Your heart is gonna break. More than once. You’re gonna fall face-first on the hardwood floor and you are going to think you’ll never ever stand again. But you will. And when you rise up, you will be more resilient. You will be wiser. You will be stronger.

5. Focus On Friendships

Make girlfriends before boyfriends. You’re gonna meet the right guy. God’s got one for you. But in the meantime – CHILL OUT A HOT MINUTE. Make some good, solid friendships. Focus on building a relationship with the girls you are laughing with and learning with. 9 out of 10 of those boys won’t matter in the very near future (and maybe none of them will), but if you play your cards right, those friendships will last a lifetime. They’ll be the ones standing beside you when you do finally meet the right guy. (And guess what? Those boys will still be laughing at the same ole fart jokes 10 years down the road.)

6. You Don’t Need To Impress Anyone

You don’t need to impress anyone. Stop living life like it’s an interview and you’re on the defense.

7. Know Your Worth

Know your worth. Don’t let the world around you shake the platform of self-confidence you’ve been building. Your value doesn’t change based on whether other people see it or not. Your value doesn’t change based on whether you get passed over, or looked over, or picked over.

8. Listen To Your Mom

Listen to your mom. Do you hear me? Listen*to*your mom.

9. Don’t Worry About Popularity

Popularity isn’t what it seems. It’s better to have a couple of true friends than a whole slew of people who would trade you in at the drop of a hat. Choose people who choose you.

10. Take Everything With A Grain Of Salt

Don’t live by other people’s compliments. Don’t die by other people’s criticisms. Take it all with a grain of salt.

11. It’s Okay Not To Be Perfect

You’re never going to catch that perfection you’ve been chasing. You may fail a test. You may bomb an interview. You may gain 10 lbs. during Christmas break. You may disappoint someone you love. You may not be class president. You’re never going to be perfect, just be the best you can.

12. Wear Sunscreen

Wear sunscreen. Lather it on like you’re being paid for it.

13. Don’t Focus Too Much On Others

Comparison is the thief of joy. Stay in your lane. Looking around is going to slow you down. Looking around is going to stall your speed. Looking around is going to stop you right in your tracks. Be happy for the girl whose grass is green, and meanwhile, you just keep on watering your own lawn.

14. Be Sure In Yourself

Insecurity is the thief of pretty much everything else. Be firm in who you are. Be sure in what you’re doing. Be secure in the direction you are headed.

15. Your Words Matter

Your words are important. Don’t throw stones, use them to build a bridge between you and other people. Think first. Speak second. The things you say to others will follow you around for years to come: they will either haunt you or give you hope.

16. Always Work To Be A Better Person

Never stop taking steps to be better than the person you were yesterday. Don’t get so comfortable, or so cocky that you believe there isn’t room for improvement. There is. There always is. Say you’re sorry when you’re wrong. Apologize when you mess up. And keep growing.

17. Embrace Your Weirdness

Stop trying to fight your weirdness. Stop trying to fight your awkwardness. Stop trying to fight your inability to totally conform. Being a difference-maker, means you’re going to think, going to be a little different. It’s fine. Actually, it’s more than fine. It’s the best part about you.

18. You’re Not Better Or Worse Than Anyone Else

You’re not better than anyone. You’re not worse than anyone. We’re all just people looking for love, trying to figure this whole thing out.

19. Don’t Only Go For What’s Easiest

Don’t grab the low-hanging piece of fruit just because it’s the easiest to reach and right in front of your face.

20. Live In Freedom And Authenticity

The best people in life are free. Live in the freedom to be real and authentic and exactly who you want to be.

21. Be Nice To Everyone

People will surprise you. Be nice to everyone you meet. Open your door to people who look different, act different, and think different. You’ll never change, you’ll never grow, you’ll never stretch yourself if you don’t expose yourself to new ideas and new people. You’ll make friends with the most unexpected people in the most unexpected places. Build a bigger table.

22. It’s Okay To Let People Go

It’s ok to let people go. In fact, it’s not just ok, it’s healthy. If they want to walk away, open the door, give them a hug, send them on their merry way. But keep the door open, so the right people have a chance to get inside.

23. Don’t Give False Words Space In Your Heart

If someone gossips about you, if someone is ugly to you, if someone is mean to you. If someone’s slanders your name, or tosses your reputation out the window, it says more about who they are as a person than it does about who you are as a person. Their words, if untrue, don’t deserve a home in your heart, so don’t give them one. Houses and hearts both come with a door, so you can open it for some and guard it from others.

24. Don’t Confuse Social Media For Reality

Social media, magazine covers, reality TV, filters on Snapchat – those things aren’t real life. Do your best not to confuse the two.

25. You Have To Make Things Happen

Nothing just happens. You have to make it happen. You have to put in the effort for it to come to fruition. There is no magic in a flower blooming. There is only somebody willing to put in the work to dig the hole, plant the seed, water it, and wait. Not nearly enough people are willing to work for the things they really want.

26. Don’t Focus Energy On Things That Won’t Matter Tomorrow

If it won’t matter one month from now, it’s not worth your time, or your energy now. If the craziness swirling around won’t matter tomorrow, don’t let it affect your today.

27. Don’t Be A Copy-Cat

Don’t be a copy-cat. I know you want those new shoes because everyone else has them. I know you do. I know you want new highlights because she has new highlights. I know you want to be on the volleyball team because all the popular kids are on the volleyball team. I know you don’t know exactly who you are yet, so you are spending your time trying to find it in other people. You won’t find it there.

28. You Write Your Own Story

It’s ok for your pages to be unwritten. You hold the pen. You decide what gets scribbled on those blank pages in front of you. It’s fine not to know what’s next, but it’s not ok to stop trying, to stop working, to stop believing. You are the author of you own story. Make it a good one.

29. Focus On Family

Your family will always be there for you. Spend more time with them.

30. Keep Going When It’s Hard

Press on. I know you probably won’t believe me, but these really tough moments will become the really defining moments. They won’t break you, but they will make you. They will form you, but only if you allow them to really sink in. Only if you decide to stand back up again. Only if you decide to grow from them and not give in to the pain they cause. These really difficult times will be the seeds that cause you to blossom and become something more if you let them.

31. Getting Older Isn’t Bad

Getting older isn’t so bad. Love the stage you’re in – not paying bills and being able to eat whatever you want and all that but look forward to the next stage too.

32. Keep Seeking What You Want

Never stop seeking. Like a game of hide-and-go-seek, chances are that we will eventually find the things we are looking for. If you want success – seek it. If you want joy – seek it. If you want a reason to keep going – seek it.

33. Friendships Are A Verb

If you want good friends, you’re gonna have to go out there and be a good friend to somebody who wants what you have. Choose people who are willing to choose you right back. Friendships are a verb — you have to act to make them happen.

34. Positive Mindsets Go A Long Way

So many people can find the one thorn in an entire bouquet of roses. Nay-sayers, critiques, judges and negative Nancy’s are a dime a dozen. Instead, be the girl who knows how to find the one wildflower in an entire bouquet of weeds. A positive mindset will go a long way. Find the best in every situation, every circumstance, and every person you come across.

Woman who tells people not to pluck their eye brows stands smiling in red dress
Amy Weatherly

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amy Weatherly. You can follow her journey on FacebookSubscribe to our free email newsletter, Living Better—your ultimate guide for actionable insights, evidence backed advice, and captivating personal stories, propelling you forward to living a more fulfilling life.

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