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The Practical Version of What Would You Tell the 20-Year Old Version of Yourself

by Donna Quesada: We’ve all seen those articles or snippets of advice floating around social media, which offer profound,

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life-changing wisdom around things like the importance of self-love, or taking the time to appreciate the little things. And it’s all true. But my age and current circumstances inspired me toward a more practical set of rules for better living. And so here, I offer five notes of utilitarian wisdom…

1. Don’t Buy So Much

I grew up in the 70s. It was the era of rollerskating, record albums and Schwinn Cruisers. But it was also the decade of big shopping malls. My friends and I would get our allowance and go the  mall. Buying clothes and shoes was just what girls liked to do. And the habit tends to continue… until one day you look at your closet and realize you’re never going to wear that stuff!

Clothes are just a part of it. We live in a consumer culture that encourages buying… new cars, better washing machines, and updated gadgets and gizmos, every year.

But your kids won’t be better or smarter because of all the new stuff, your own life won’t be happier because you’ve got the latest appliance, and no one else cares or is impressed by what you have… people are worrying about their own stuff.

You’ll move one day, and you’ll be hauling it all off to the Goodwill. So, save your money, your storage space, the environment, and your time, by resisting the accumulation of clutter. Buy less.

2. Don’t Make Nice To Keep the Peace

I was raised to be gracious. And my Zen practice reinforced my natural tendency toward politeness and deference. These qualities are generally a good thing, but if you don’t learn to speak up for yourself, and to openly object to what needs objecting to, you’ll simply snap one day. Deference can easily slip into submission without the counterbalance of dissent, when necessary.

Anyway, when you hit middle-age, you won’t care anymore who hears you, so why not start speaking up when you’re young?

3. Go For the Degree or Training Program of Your Dreams

Don’t be put off by the time they say it’ll take. If it’s gonna take five years to get though the theater program or even 10 years to become a Veterinarian, do it!

Because those 10 years are going to pass, anyway!

You’ll either come out the other side with the certificate in your hand or you’ll come out without it.  So, you may as well do it. And the way to start is… to start. Just enroll. Then show up. That alone, is most of it. Just keep showing up. Although it doesn’t guarantee a better living, it gives you a better chance for financial security, but mostly, you’ll feel personally fulfilled and accomplished.

4. Don’t Make Life-Decisions Based on Other Peoples’ Expectations

Not even if those other people are your family. Your journey is your own. No one knows what your destiny is and what roads and turns you need to take to get there. No one knows whether the mistakes you’re making are indeed mistakes and what they’ll lead to. You have a right to your trials and challenges, just like everyone else.

A mis-take may be the passcode to the second-take… which is yours and yours alone, to take.

5. Don’t Choose a Partner Based on Looks

l overheard a conversation the other day, between two 20-somethings… He’s not my type, one was saying… I like guys with blue eyes, like, the surfer look… I used to talk like that, too.

Those good looks are gonna fade real fast. Besides, good looks are like the second drink… it looks appealing until you don’t feel so good. Then it doesn’t look good at all, anymore.

The point is, when someone loves you and cares for you, he’ll do anything to make sure you’re fine and that you’re feeling good. Marry that guy!

Looks are shifty. What doesn’t look attractive at first, can quickly become very beautiful because of the love that flows between you. And vice versa… what seemed attractive at first, can suddenly look awful to your eye, if the behavior doesn’t match up.

Like grandma said, it’s about the love. Everything else is superficial.

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