Turning 50: 8 Pieces of Advice I Would Give My 20 Year Old Self

The Succulent Wife

By Audrey van Petegem, Senior Editor

My husband surprised me with a 50th birthday party this summer. He invited all my friends throughout my many stages of life to come and share pictures of me when they knew-me-back-when. It was really fun to watch the slide show and reminisce about the good times with old friends.

There was one of me on my father's sailboat that my sister must have included. I have no idea who took the photo and only know that I was about twenty at the time. What I do remember is her! I love the fresh-face, carefree, braless, naive woman I used to be. Oh, how I wish I could give her some advice now.

I would tell her to:

  1. Be present in every moment - don't waste time wanting school to be over or to be older than what you are. Take the time to enjoy yourself instead of waiting to start something new or go somewhere else. Embrace the now!

  2. Journal every day - You did journal all the way through University. You wrote down your dreams, poetry you wrote and "dear diary" excerpts. When I read them now it is such a joy to see your thoughts and attitudes. I wish you had continued and wrote more consistently because they mean so much to me now.

  3. Keep your friends - Friends are there for a reason, season or lifetime. There is something wonderful having friends when you are older that you knew when you were younger. Plus, friends become far more important to you as you age and surprisingly you will find that you have more than one best friend! Who knew!

  4. Get over those embarrassing moments - Oh, dear Audrey, you have had so many. But guess what? When you get older those are the stories you will remember the most - with fondness.

  5. Know that you are beautiful and your body is perfect - Stop obsessing about your weight, your body and your looks! Stop skipping meals and putting yourself down! You will look back at old photos and say "Hey, I look pretty good! What was I complaining about?"

  6. Start looking after your health, skin and body now - This attitude of not having to worry about it now is not going to do you any justice when you get older. Start now because it is harder to kick start something new in your 50′s and you can't reverse the damage done when you were younger.

  7. Start a financial plan earlier - Start a savings scheme earlier and save your money!! Take more of an interest in my personal finances, start a pension earlier, and for goodness sakes, forego short term treats for long term gain!

And lastly I would say to her;

You done good girl!!! - You continued to live your life as a carefree, spontaneous person. Although you no longer go braless (just way too painful) your fresh face shows the beautiful lines of someone who has lived life - with every laugh line, worry line and battle scar.

And thank you 20 year-old self. You reminded me the importance to live in the moment, to journal and to continue to look after myself. All lessons I needed to hear at age fifty.