10 Facts I Wish I Knew 20 Years Ago

We all have things we’ve learned from life. Here are 10 I wish I knew 20 years ago. Or even 10 years ago for some of them. Learn from my mistakes.

10 Facts of Life I Learned Later Than I’d Like

1. Abstinence is not the only safe sex without marriage.

I come from the sort of town where they teach abstinence as the only safe sex. You know, if you’re not married. They’re wrong about that, and a lot of people who grew up there could’ve benefited from learning about other options earlier.

Luckily, I went to college, and other women in the dorms did not grow up in my town. If they hadn’t explained more realistic viewpoints, I might’ve learned the hard way.

2. Being deeply in debt sucks.

College loans seemed like a great idea at the time. Money I can use now and not have to even start paying back for years? Sure, I’ll take the extra one for living expenses. Why not?

Today: According to your debt-to-income ratio, you’ll be able to buy a home when you’re about forty, so just keep saving what little you can until then.

3. Socializing is just as important as studying.

Maybe more important. Yes, grades and learning are important, but what people say about networking is true. Knowing people and having them like you does really help you get a job. Knowing how to make a good impression on strangers not only helps you get a job, it helps you keep it. Knowing how not to offend people or how to fix it if you do also helps at work.

I learned this one waaaay later than is best. 😭 If you haven’t learned those skills yet, believe me, start now.

4. Fixing something yourself can actually cost more.

First off, if you’re not particularly handy at something or simply don’t know what you’re doing, you might just make it worse. Then, when you give in and hire someone, you actually have to pay them to fix not only the original problem but also whatever damage you did.

More recently, I’ve also learned that sometimes, the expert makes less an hour than you do – AKA your time is valuable. So by trying to do it yourself, you’re actually paying a higher hourly rate than if you just pay someone who can do it faster. Remember: this is the closest you’ll ever get to being able to add hours to a day.

5. Stretching actually is important.

As I get older and less springy, I have come to truly value stretching, and as I deal with old injuries, I wish I had learned that sooner. Maybe, if I had been into sports it would be different, but who knows? The takeaway is to start good habits young so that you have them when you need them.

6. Use all your vacation days.

When I think of the vacation days I let expire, I cringe. They are a benefit. They are part of the reason why you’re working. You have earned them. So use them.

You wouldn’t refuse one of your paychecks, would you? That’s basically what you’re dong when you don’t use your vacation days.

7. Not everything can be achieved through hard work.

There are going to be things you are not good at and cannot truly excel at no matter how hard you try – at least not by other people’s standards. Beating yourself against the wall of their approval doesn’t help you. Believe me, I learned that one the hard way.

Pushing yourself to be better is valuable, but when you try as hard as you can and make no progress, being self-aware will save you pain and suffering. You cannot succeed at everything even if you try your hardest. And that is ok. It’s not the best feeling ever, but it’s part of being human.

8. You do not have to be the best at everything.

There are going to be people who are better at certain things than you. That’s ok. You are going to be better at other things than them. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and that’s fine. Don’t give yourself a hard time if you’re average at something. Average is good.

Being good at something is not a bad thing just because you’re not the best. Repeat it until you believe it. Trust me.

9. You are going to fail sometimes.

If you are never failing, you are never growing or trying anything new. It’s ok to fail. It can even be good to fail because failure is how you learn.

If you don’t learn to accept failure, learn from it, and move on, however, you’re going to hurt. Really, that’s a common cause of mental illness. Expecting to never fail is holding yourself up to impossible standards and very possibly crippling your ability to grow. Make peace with failure for your own sake.

10. You have to take care of you.

It’s better for you to take a break when you need one than to push through whatever’s going on until you explode or collapse. Whether it’s physical illness, mental illness, or just overwork, if you don’t take care of yourself now, you are going to pay for it later. And so will people you care about and even your work.

If you’re worried about doing your best by your employer or helping the people you love, remember that sometimes putting yourself first is helping them. Because you being at your best is doing better by them.

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