Inspired by contest I missed. What would have made a difference to me with today in mind?
|Dear Younger Me:
This is exciting! You’re out of school and ready to move onto greater things, like College, being away from home. You don’t want advice. You think you’re already mature and have a lot of wisdom. But I have to share a few things with you. I never gave much thought when I was young about being as old as I am now. There are a few things I would have done differently if only I had known!
This may seem silly now, but your skin won’t always be this nice. Take care of it. You know the drill: drink plenty of water, use sunscreen all the time all year round, don’t smoke, get plenty of sleep. The skin is the largest organ of the body. When you are older, it will stress you out when it starts to wrinkle, develop things you never heard of, and change color and texture. I’m not trying to gross you out, but you will be grossed out decades from now when you see your beautiful complexion change. When you finally give into wearing glasses, you will be shocked at the look of the skin on your arms. Don’t forget to moisturize frequently! And don’t be shy about visiting a dermatologist who will either treat your problems or put your mind at ease. And forego the fashion sunglasses for ones with UV protection.
Plenty of sleep applies to everything, not just your skin. Sleep affects your daily ability to function on the job and in your relationships. A lack of sleep will deter weight loss. Sleep affects your overall health, so don’t cheat the clock. Aim for eight hours on a regular basis.
Exercise. It’s not only good for your figure, but it helps your brain to function. It may help delay dementia in some cases, so make it a habit to get off the couch and get active. It will keep your A1C in line and keep your good cholesterol on track better than diet. And it’s good for your bones. And you may make some new friends in the process, maybe not. The exercise you get in the next ten years can make your life better or worse thirty years from now or more. Make some kind of exercise a lifelong routine.
Speak to everyone with a smile in your voice. Write down names and keep it in your desk or at home. You might not have trouble remembering now, but years from now, you might encounter this person and need the name. If you list where you know them from, it helps. I don’t know how many people I have encountered and can’t remember on which job I met them. One of them might be mayor someday, or you will end up working with their grown children. You’ll want to remember the connection.
Start a retirement plan as soon as you are able (as soon as the college loans are paid off). Make sure you have life insurance, but not too much. When you have a family, your insurance should be enough for them to get by without your income for three years; they’re not supposed to get rich because you die early. Avoid debt. Except for a mortgage, you should never owe more than one month’s net income. With a mortgage, go for less debt. Never, ever, make a late payment.
Never devote yourself to a job to the point where your personal life is neglected. I worked seven days a week, twelve hour days, and the company sold out and left me jobless. If you don’t own the business, set limits. If you do own the business, remember your family responsibilities. No tombstone ever said “He should have worked more hours.”
When you’re ready to get married, do listen to what your friends say. Let your family check him out. If they have doubts, you might want to think again. Our emotions blind us to so many things. Getting married to the wrong man, or moving in with the wrong man, will be a heartbreak and disaster. But beware of the signs that it’s time to get out. When your mate puts his own interests ahead of your need to fill a prescription or pick you up from the hospital, you need to move on. You aren’t going to change that self-centered person with a talk or with nagging. If he criticizes you in front of his family, you might need to think about leaving. At least have a talk. If you don’t see improvement, get out. Knowing when to leave, whether it’s a marriage, a friendship, a job, or a place to live, is important.
On the other hand, making commitments and keeping them is important. Don’t move in with a guy just because he’s cute or he wants you all the time. He should be an honorable person who’s financially stable and reliable. I have known too many young girls who were involved and playing house before they were ready. The guy is usually selfish and immature, but of course, the girl doesn’t see that. She ends up leaving a good job because the schedule doesn’t suit him. Or she abandons all her friends and hobbies. A fellow shouldn’t require that you do a lifestyle makeover. Accommodate the right guy, but don’t remake yourself. That applies to commitments to a job, as well. Don’t quit without notice. That’s a bad reflection on your character. And when you give notice, serve it out, no matter how much you might hate the job.
On that job, work as scheduled. Do not call in sick unless you really are sick. Don’t go in more than a few minutes late, and that should be a rare exception. Most employers want you early to get settled before clocking in. If you’re salaried, don’t take advantage by skimming off minutes or hours at the beginning or end of your day. Your fellow employees notice and talk about it, just not to your face. You’re not getting away with it. Loyalty is a dying quality in the work place. As long as you take a pay check from someone, give that company your best.
Hold to your values. Don’t let other people’s scamming, shoplifting, lying, cheating get you down. There’s a lot of dishonesty in the world around us. But keep the good faith that your values matter.
Get the older people in your family to write down family history, if they haven’t already. Get them to record each family line so that you can access it when the older folks are no longer around to ask. Believe me, at some point beyond age 50, you will want to know.
Have fun. Travel all you can, go to plays, go to the beach, visit historic places and museums. I regret that I didn’t have more vacations. Every day is a blessing. Plan your life like you're going to live forever, or at least until you're 110! But live every day like it's your last! Just love it!
Words like these will be forgotten in the turmoil of day to day life.