Last Friday I was at the bar at Label chatting with a couple of recent college grad girls I know. I was regaling them with stories from my “Train Wreck 20s” and as we were all laughing at the near-death experiences and hijinks that me 40lbs heavier got into, one of the girls said “I feel like you’ve lived 10 lifetimes.” It also feels that way to me. Like most people, I have looked back on my younger years on more than one occasion and thought to myself “If I only knew then what I know now.” My early 20s were a fun period of growing pains for me, but I definitely can’t say I look back on those years with pride. I accomplished a big milestone and graduated college, somehow, but otherwise I see a lot of missed opportunities and a couple of mistakes that certainly could have been avoided. With that being said, I’ve compiled a list of things that 33-year-old Kathie would have liked to relay to 20-year-old Kathie.
- Take full advantage of the college experience. Study abroad, be active on campus, go to ball games, join clubs, etc. Use every opportunity to expose yourself to new ideas and people and make connections. And actually try to learn something useful!
- Don’t take out unnecessary college loans. My school was completely paid for through scholarships, but I decided to take my sweet time and finish up in a timely 5 years and took out a couple small loans because it was “free money” that I could easily pay back when I got my “dream job” that I was getting a degree for. I’ve been graduated for a decade and those loans are still being paid on and the only thing I have to show for it is a couple of boozy trips to Myrtle Beach.
- Cool it with the PBR. I don’t need to discuss this any further.
- Take better care of your body, you’re not in high school anymore. Eating garbage food and binging on alcohol several times a week will not only make a quick and negative impact on your physical well-being, but it takes a toll on your mental health as well. Instead of spending your free time flopping around on the couch in a hangover-induced food coma, go use the state-of-the art gym that’s included in your tuition fees. It’s a whole lot easier to lose and maintain your weight in your 20s than your 30s.
- Make better decisions, you are not invincible. There is no excuse for me even being alive right now based off all the stupid things I did when I was younger. When you’re that age you think nothing bad can happen to you so it makes you far more careless. You are not invincible so choose wisely.
- Spend more time with your parents and true loved ones. Life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end the faster it goes and you will never regret time spent with the people who genuinely care for you and contribute to your life.
- Respect yourself. This is the most important thing I can hammer home to myself or any other young person who is transitioning from a teen to an adult. When you have respect for yourself and love who you are you will save yourself a lot of heartache because you won’t tolerate anyone else who doesn’t. You won’t waste precious time on loser exes who treated you like crap or could damage you for the future.
- Remember that while it is not impossible to redeem yourself and grow into a better person, the things you do today can stick with you for many years. You get but one chance to make a first impression and sometimes that is your only impression. So limit your embarrassing moments and try to carry yourself with dignity and act like a decent human. You never know if the teacher who is seeing you schlepping into class in a sweatshirt and sunglasses may end up being the person you have to interview in front of for a job one day. Life is crazy.
- To piggy-back off of number 8, in life it is all about who you know and not what you know. Make as many valuable connections in business as you can because it will reward you in the end. Be involved in your community and always be courteous to people, because you will need it in the future.
- Again, don’t drink PBR. It’s gross, it’s cheap, it doesn’t make you look cool and it makes you fat.
Time is so precious and we all have things we wish we might have done differently. In the end, it’s all these experiences that add up to the person we are at this very moment so there is no need to have regrets. In one day you are born and in one day you die. You can fall in love or have your heart shattered in just one day. I think the important message to all this is to use each day to its fullest and be the best we can be. I hope you all have a wonderful productive week!