Letter To My Younger Self

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I’m turning thirty this year, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to reflect on my 20s before I close that chapter. In my language, we have a saying that translates into English – “If only I had had today’s wisdom at that age”. But we never really do, which is the point of the whole journey. It takes time to learn certain things, which usually goes hand in hand with mistakes.

When I think of my 20s, I can’t help but notice all the things I would do differently if I had a chance to do them again, but I try not to focus solely on that. All the mistakes I made taught me something. However, there are a couple of pieces of advice I would give to my younger self, if anything, just to avoid the unnecessary struggle I put myself through.

Don’t accept advice from everyone who gives it

I remember whenever I had a decision to make, there would be so many people coming out of nowhere giving typically unsolicited advice. It was like that when I was in two minds about which university to enrol in when I was thinking about my future career, or even when I looked for the place to live when I moved out the first time.

I don’t know what it is about people that makes them impose their opinions on others, but it had an immense impact on me at the time. I was young, I was still searching for myself, defining things and experiences, so whenever I got too confused, I went for what someone else suggested. But unfortunately, it led me to wrong choices or boring jobs in most cases.

So, today, I would tell my younger self to carefully sift through the plethora of advice coming her way. To know who to trust and whose word is well-intended. But primarily to focus on her knowledge, experience and gut instinct. That should always come first. I would tell her not to let others define her goals and dreams as far-fetched, especially not people who haven’t been in her place.

From this perspective, I would always say that in your 20s, it’s crucial to follow your dreams of your own accord. Make mistakes. Learn the lessons. Those are the things that shaped me into the person I am today.

Surround yourself with people who motivate you

Looking back, it may seem that I unnecessarily wasted so many years being around people who had no goals, aspirations, or even desire to improve in life. I said, ‘it may seem’ because, to be honest, what could I ever learn from them? But, when I look at it from a different perspective, I wasn’t much better at the time. For most of my 20s, I searched for something, not knowing what it was.

I see this as a bad thing because I remember being hopelessly naive and easily influenced by others. So, when I found myself in the company of friends who had no goals, I also stopped feeling motivated to push forward. Or, when I found myself surrounded by people who complained all the time, I also became dissatisfied with my life.

This might even be the most important piece of advice I’d give to my younger self: Surround yourself with the people who motivate you to always strive for the best. Having someone around who is ambitious, driven, hardworking, problem-solving oriented, open-minded would have helped me be more confident about taking control of my own life and career. Most of the time, I wasn’t even aware of the impact certain people had on me, so if I had been surrounded by the right people throughout my 20s, maybe I would have made choices that would benefit me in the long run.

Invest in yourself

There are so many things I regret not doing. All of them could fall into the category of investing in myself.

There are also many things that I started but never went through with.

When I was in my 20s, I had all the time in the world, but I wasn’t aware of it. Looking back, I can definitely see that I could easily have used at least half of that time for self-improvement, but I wasn’t aware that my older self would be beyond grateful for that. If only I had done so.

One of the most beautiful things a person can invest in is learning foreign languages. I have always had a knack for languages but not enough motivation to push through. Now, I’m fluent in two languages only, which is a shame to admit, given that I started learning around five languages during my studies. Being fluent in a foreign language gives you so many different perspectives to observe life; you understand the culture of the language, the mindset, the manners, and so much more.

Other than learning languages, I would certainly invest in different courses, read more books, read better books, experiment with learning things I never thought of, and so on.

I believe that investing in myself can only bring gain in the long run. It’s never wasted. I do it now. It’s never really too late, but I wish I had started earlier.

Enjoy being unsure about your purpose

When I graduated from university, or even before that, I remember living in a constant panic because it seemed that every single person around me had some sort of direction or a goal, while I could not decide which path I wanted to take.

Judging from this point of view, I would say that not knowing was the best part. I wish I could tell my younger self that not knowing, at that age, allowed me to discover. I could explore and search for that purpose carefree.

So what if all my friends have already chosen the career they want to pursue? There is absolutely no deadline for finding my purpose, and I wish I had been aware of that.

In my opinion, at such an age, people shouldn’t even rush to pursue successful careers. I think the early 20s should be used for learning, exploring, trying and failing, and in the end, deciding which path to take. However, for me, it was the opposite. It was quite stressful, and I switched between quite a few jobs, not staying longer than a year at any of them.

Travel as much and as far as possible

I could not possibly count how many times I’ve heard about the benefits of travelling. It’s funny though because although I have always been aware of those benefits, I haven’t travelled to many countries. I have visited eight countries in total. The only reason for that is that I always thought I would have time for that in the future.

They say that you have all the time in the world in your 20s to do the things you want, but never enough money, while in your 30s, you have the money to do whatever you’d like, but you cannot find the time to do it. That’s also true. But, regardless of how expensive travelling can be, I have to admit that it’s always possible to find a way to do it, especially when you’re a student. The opportunities are endless.

So, I would definitely advise my younger self to travel as much as possible; domestic travelling, international travelling, overseas travelling – it’s always a life-changing experience.

I wish I had travelled more to really distant places to see and learn about different ways of living, thinking, and observing the world around us.

To summarise, with all the mistakes, bad decisions, and wrong choices I made, my 20s have shaped my personality immensely. From this point of view, there were so many situations where I could have taken a much easier road, but I guess I wouldn’t have this point of view if I had done it any differently. A very important point for me was when I accepted and acknowledged all the experiences I went through, along with my personality changes, because they were necessary for a reason. At the end of the day, it’s never too late to do all the things I wish I had done before. It’s important that I have become aware. Now, I have the 30s to invest in myself, travel, be friends with the right people, and much more.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your younger self? What do you think is the most important lesson you have learned so far?

Pozdrav,

Milica 🙂

Milica Sekulic

In my career, I have tried many things, but writing has always been something I primarily aspired for. Both my BA and MA were in English language and literature, so I’m also passionate about reading and teaching.

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