All the Things I Wish I Knew in My Twenties

BY SHARON PAVLOVICH

There is something about the aging process that becomes a bit more real when you are about to embark on the decade of 50. You start to look back and simultaneously look forward, because in the process you realize all we have are moments. If I could revisit my 20-year-old self I would share these thoughts from the older, wiser me.

  • Love your body. It will go through many changes and transform multiple times. Look in the mirror every morning naked and relish in your form, figure, skin, and imperfections.
  • Decide whose opinions matter and act accordingly. I use one hand as my guide, so I have five people whose opinions I cherish. If my actions are going to offend any one of those people, I better have a good reason.
  • Laugh hard and often at yourself. When you find humor you find joy.
  • Listen to people. Make an intentional effort to understand. Make time to meet people where they are, not where you expect them to be.
  • Play as hard as you work. As you get older and 60 hour work-weeks start dictating your life, it is time for a vacation.  No matter how small in duration, take time for rest, sleep, and nurturing.
  • Eat. Enjoy food. Your palate is made up of a wonderful complicated network of gustatory receptors that delight in food and drink. Challenge yourself to try something new now and again.
  • Exercise. Find a way to honor your body as much as you honor your mind. Don’t underestimate the mind-body connection, it’s powerful.
  • Know when to lead and when to follow. Life requires that we know when to change hats. Be prepared to lead by example or know when it is time to support. There are no leaders without followers. There are no followers without leaders.
  • Set goals, not expectations. Aspire to be rather than wishing to become. These are two very different things.
  • Clarify, don’t assume. When in doubt, communicate. Silence is helpful when self-reflecting, not when conversing.
  • Eat dinner on the floor with candles, just because.
  • Find something to celebrate daily. We often ignore the little happenings that occur every day. Revel in them.
  • Cry, Grieve, and Feel. The heart was made to endure both beauty and sadness.
  • Create your narrative. Journal, write, blog, make a video, create your art, hone your craft, do whatever it is that nourishes your soul and sustains your essence.
  • Learn to garden. A majority of important lessons to be learned in life start with dirt.
  • Learn now that the uniqueness you were born into is yours, no one else’s. Own it. Love it.
  • And finally, embrace aging. We become repositories of all of our experiences and because of this; we finally learn how to love ourselves unconditionally.