Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Was 40: Words of Wisdom I Would Tell my Younger Self

By Deann Zampelli   |   June 4, 2024

I have never been a big fan of regret, all at once feeling and knowing its futility. However, if I could go back and meet my younger self, say in my 20s or 30s, I would tell that stonewashed-jeans-wearing girl the following:

1. Stop worrying about what other people think. They aren’t thinking about you anyway, they are thinking about themselves. And even if they were thinking about you, the only person you need to impress is yourself.

2. Surround yourself with quality relationships. Not quantity. You can have 1,500 followers on Instagram, but if you don’t have at least one person with whom to share your sorrows, and even more importantly, your victories – you are alone. A lot of people can be there for you when you are in a down swing, but the truest friends are those that celebrate your wins as if they were their own. They truly want your happiness in a way that is totally unconnected to their own. Align yourself with people who inspire you, support you, respect you, motivate you, bring out the best in you and make you feel like the best version of yourself, not the worst.

3. Look up the word ‘mortal.’ That’s you. You don’t get a free pass. Try to resist the immediate temptations of today for a healthier tomorrow. It is a powerful concept that would save countless lives. Sun exposure without sunscreen? Pass. Driving when you know you probably had a few too many at the party? Pass. If you are lucky, you will be “older” longer than you are “younger” so treat your future self with some respect and look out for that mind and body of yours now.

4. Listen to your intuition. Yes, I know he is cute but that stomachache that gets so bad you have to vomit right before you know you are going to see him? That isn’t butterflies. That is your body telling you he isn’t good for you. Your body knows it. And deep down, you do, too. You have an inner voice, trust it.

5. Get off the social media and read a book. Limit your screen time before it becomes a lifelong addiction and visit a library or a magical bookstore. Books not only expand your mind, but they are the best armchair travel partners. They expand your vocabulary and can improve your spelling. They foster imagination, relieve stress, and smell good (What? They do.) They don’t need a charger or a data plan. Books don’t shame you or make you feel inadequate or endlessly market items you don’t need.

Lastly, I would share with her a powerful quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

We give so much power to others over how we end up feeling about ourselves. I would encourage my younger self to keep up the volunteer work that fortifies her so much, it is a powerful foundation for self-esteem, confidence, and life. And lastly, I would tell her to embrace her beautiful curls instead of fight them. 

You are lovely just the way you are.  


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