10 Little Secrets I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self

1. Making the bed every day really does make a difference. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but it really does set the tone for the day. If nothing else gets accomplished in the morning, just make the bed. You trick yourself into believing, just for a second, that you are a bona fide adult with her shit together, until one day you just are.

2. Not traveling right after college is completely valid — and you’ll probably be happier in the long run. I’ve known plenty of people who chose to live at home after college so they could save up money to quit their jobs and travel. Some of them came out on the other side with tons of great experience and an entry point into the career path they wanted. But you know what most of them did? Moved back home. That’s fine for them, but it’s not what I would have wanted. And more than three years out, I’m happily in a place in my personal life and career in a way that wouldn’t have been possible had I take six months or a year off to go backpacking. Something to think about when you get a pang of jealousy while coming across yet another photo of Machu Picchu on Instagram.

3. Designer mascara is never any better than the kind you buy at the drugstore. Seriously, look at any makeup artist’s YouTube videos — they’re all using cheap mascaras alongside all their fancy contouring products. Mascara is the one thing I never leave the house without applying, so it feels like something I should invest in. But I’ve wasted so much money trying out different mascaras at Sephora only to come back time and again to the same green and pink tube from Maybelline. Because sometimes, the more expensive, name-brand option isn’t always the better one. And whether or not it is is something to figure out for yourself.

4. When someone has an actual romantic interest in you, you’ll know it. It won’t be a guessing game or secretly knowing their schedule well enough that you keep “running into them” and trick them into falling in love with you. That won’t happen. Because when someone does actually like you, making plans is easy. There are exceptions, of course. But generally, I’ve found that people don’t cancel plans when they really want to see you. If they want to spend time with you, making that happen doesn’t feel like a chore.

5. People who don’t value your time aren’t worth your money. I’ve wasted a lot of money in my life trying to impress guys who didn’t have any interest in me beyond the ego-boost my attention probably gave them. And sadly, I think a lot of women are in the same boat here. But people (romantic interests and friends included) whose attention requires you to spend a lot of money you don’t have or try to change fundamental pieces of yourself aren’t worth your time.

6. But the people who do value your time definitely are. I’ve found that money is a lot easier to part with when it’s going towards a shared experience with someone I actually love. Nice dinners, weekend trips, Broadway shows are all worth it for me to scrimp in other areas so I can make them happen. Saving money is easy when you already like your life and the people you surround yourself with because you have nothing to prove. You’re simply building upon a life you already love, which feels even more beautiful.

7. Your body changing isn’t an excuse to stop trying to be healthy. I’m never going to look like a swimsuit model, especially now that I’ve reached my mid-twenties and have gradually come to accept that my metabolism is not what it was when I was a teenager and dancing 15 hours a week. And that’s fine. But just because I don’t have a body that shitty “women’s interest” magazines would deem the Ultimate Picture Of Health doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to care about my body or my long-term well-being. Eat your vegetables. Go on walks. Do a push-up every now and again. It is amazing what a body can do, even if it doesn’t look like a body is “supposed to.”

8. Dessert is worth it. Always. Maybe I should have made this one “everything in moderation,” which I do believe, but this feels more pressing. I’ve never skipped dessert when I’ve really wanted it; I make pies on a weekly basis to share with my boyfriend and loved ones, and I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me. Some indulgences just are worth it.

9. Alcohol is not always worth it. As much as I love a good bottle of wine, beer, or occasional rum-based cocktail, that’s pretty much it. I can’t remember a time in my life where I’ve done a shot that was a) my idea or b) actually enjoyable. Shitty alcohol means shitty hangovers, and more of them. Yes, you can afford to drink more nights out of the week when you’re sticking to $4 well drinks at crowded bars with sticky floors. But is it…fun? At least for me, it’s just not. I’m not saying don’t drink alcohol, but when you do, it should be fun and enjoyable, not just something to do because other people are. Learn about what you like, and make it a special occasion.

10. You’re not obligated to do something just because someone asked you to. This is one I still struggle with, perhaps because women are socialized to be obliging, but also because I truly do want to be perceived as a nice, helpful person. And maybe there’s an ulterior motive of proving I have my shit together enough to help other people at the drop of a hat. But is it always worth it? Not really. We should always be willing to help people we care about, but valuing our own time is one of the most important things in life. You are not always indebted to others; remember that.

Holly is the Managing Editor of The Financial Diet. Follow her on Twitter here, or send her your ideas at holly@thefinancialdiet.com!

Image via Pexels

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  • hessiebell

    I’m down with all of these… except #3. I finally gave up the $5 drugstore brands in favour of a $25 Clinique mascara which actually lasts and doesn’t rub/flake off by noon.

  • Leah

    One to add is doing nothing all day isn’t as fun is it seems. In fact, some of the best days started at 7 doing laundry and planning a trip to the grocery store.

    • bextannya

      THIS! So much. I feel happiest when I’m partly productive at home. A clean load of laundry to hang outside on a nice summer morning and a quick trip to the grocery store because I have all the time are simple, but so great 🙂

  • Alexis

    !!!!! Number 4 is something I desperately wish I knew in college. I thought I had to “convince” people to like me, and that if I spent enough time and energy convincing them, they’d realize how awesome I was. Of course, any relationship takes effort, but it should be a fairly equal amount of effort for both parties!

  • Very true valid little secrets, in someway I’ve learned them all!

  • lateshift

    So smart…especially the ones about guys. Brilliant.

    Just one note of caution about drawing conclusions based on your feelings just three years out about regretting/not regretting travel: whether you realize it or not, right now there’s a big temptation for you to rationalize, and jump straight to a conclusion you can’t actually back up – it’s way, way too early for you to draw any conclusions here. The regret over this one doesn’t kick in immediately (and yes – in the grand scheme of life, three years is basically “immediately”)…it kicks in just 5-10 years from now, when your friends who traveled will have all caught up to you career-wise (or you’ll have hit a career or life cul-de-sac that renders these early gains irrelevant, or found your career isn’t as central to you as it once was.) THAT is when you’ll realize how fleeting time and life are and how much travel add to them (I mean…we only get one go-around in life.) You’ll also realize that the stakes have probably become too high for you to ever travel that way – that there really is an ideal moment in life to do that sort of soul-enriching journey, and that time is exactly when your friends took their trips.

    (No, I’m not saying it’s always IMPOSSIBLE to travel like that later in life – although for many, many people, maybe even most people, it is – but it’s always much, much, MUCH tougher to do, and the impact on your life and career and finances are far, far greater in terms of tradeoffs and sacrifice than they are when you’re 22 or 23. All I’m saying is – this bullet deserved an asterisk, a touch of self-awareness as to why you may be a bit over-eager, very motivated and have a psychological need to make that blanket conclusion right now, and an acknowledgement that the verdict is actually far from in.)