I made a lot of bad decisions in my early to mid-20s. Ya know, minor stuff: choosing to get involved with the wrong kind of men or being so arrogant that I put my future in danger. No big deal.
Older and wiser, bad decisions are still a part of my life. But they’re mostly stupid stuff: getting drunk on a week night when I have work in the morning or not knowing when to stop when cutting my own bangs. With the exception of still not being able to ditch the cigarettes, I can say I’m doing pretty well. I’m neither dead nor in jail so every new day is a good day! And while I’ve made peace with my past and all my shenanigans, there are things I know now that I wish I knew then.
Obviously, I can’t go back in time and chat with younger Helga like proper ladies do. Still, I’m listing these things because some Young and Impressionable Girl Out There might need a nudge in the right direction (not saying anyone should take my advice) or just find them useful.
Eat all the food you want.
From high school up until a a couple of years ago, I constantly deprived myself of food because I was terrified of getting fat/wasn’t as skinny as the girls at school/had broad swimmer’s shoulder and chunky arms. If I ate, I wouldn’t leave the house for the rest of the day because I felt fat. I carried these body issues well into my late 20s and developed pretty shitty eating habits. I was also never skinny enough (obviously because I was an athlete and athletes are supposed to be fit, not waif thin).
If I could sit down with 14-year old Helga (the age when I started dieting), I’d tell her to just eat. I’d tell her to eat the goddamn rice because she’s young and her metabolism is working with her. I’d tell her that she can eat what she wants because SHE WON’T GET FAT.
Don’t waste your youth on diets. Save the misery of counting calories and low-carb meals for later, goddamnit.
You don’t owe people anything.
Guy dropped you off at home and you get the vibe that he’s into you? You don’t have to kiss him good-bye, if you’re not into him. Your body isn’t currency and he’ll probably be okay with a simple “thank ya, see ya!”
You also don’t have to bang a dude just because it was what was expected. Walking away is easy. And if a guy touches you in your sleep and you wake up during the assault, don’t lie there silently (pretending to be asleep) after pushing him off. Get the fuck up and “show him” that what he did is not okay.
Basically: don’t kiss, don’t boink if you’re not feeling it.
You don’t have to be a bitch.
Some people find satisfaction in being a mean girl. I know I did! Maybe it’s growing up in a small town in the 90s or not being well-liked in high school or maybe because I was really just a little butthole but I wanted to be a Courtney Shayne, not a Julie Freeman. We all know how that ended. But no one likes a mean bitch and being nice and kind doesn’t mean you’re boring or “uncool.”
Now I live by these words: be soft, kind and loving. But also take nobody’s shit.
My life is also so much better when I’m not constantly angry or trying to get back at people who annoy me. Sure, I can easily ruin a stranger’s (whose existence is making mine uncomfortable) day with some choice words but do I really need to? Do I really want to?
It’s just so much easier to be a decent human being.
What about you? Do you have any notes to your younger self?