Hindsight is a tricky little thing, on the one hand it offers us the chance to feel wise and reflective but on the other hand it is wrought with frustration because we cannot learn any better way than through experience; we have to make mistakes to get the lessons. It is still nice to look back wistfully at our younger selves, now with a world of knowledge, to offer advice despite the impossibility of being able to go back and change any of it. It is nice to daydream, it is somehow therapeutic to check in and realise how far we have come.
These are the things I would tell that 20 year old woman I once was, if I had the chance...
1. You'll get over that dick head but you will fall for many, many more. The heart ache will be symptomatic of your optimism, your ability to see potential and the chance taking attitude you were born with. Your love life will not read like an epic romantic novel, it will read like a series which goes on and on and on. Don't be trapped into thinking you need to change, all of these trials and failures will teach you how to one day get it right, how to leave behind insecurity, how to truly love.
2. Believe in your passions without excusing them. You will swerve around your interests and goals time and time again, sometimes pulling over to check out what might be but often racing past determined to prove you can arrive somewhere meaningful. What you need to know is that your passions are meaningful, You adore fashion and business, among a million other things, but those two will come tapping on your door no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Embrace what you love. You are not dumb for it, you are worth just as much as a lawyer, or a doctor, or a humanitarian or a (Canberra friends, you'll feel this) public servant. We are all equal, we all have different talents and callings. Being kind, helping others, that is where value is found, the title behind it is not the determining factor. You don't need to apologise for your calling, you need to chase it and chase it fast because soon it will be one busy street!
3. Your relationship with your body will be volatile, challenging and one of the biggest energy suckers you will ever encounter. Those binges in your teens which gave way to bulimia will be mostly forgotten as you enter your 20's but you will go on to experience orthorexia, whereby your intense focus on healthy "clean eating" will devour you. You won't eat fruit because of the sugar content. You wont look at a cracker because it is man made. You will skip Thai for 2 years, one of your favourite things in the world. You need not bother. You will arrive at the same weight regardless. The 47 kilos will feel quite divine for some time but your body knows itself and 57 kilos it likes to hang with. No matter what you do, eventually you will return to the big, or little in actual fact, 57. Love it all. Nothing needs lessening. Food is amazing. Enjoy.
4. Domestic Violence will nearly kill you but your son will completely save you. That guy you meet somewhere after 26 will seem like the one. Your instinct will know otherwise but everything else will blindly fall. It will happen fast. The house, the dog, the business, the pregnancy, the ring. The event which changes it all. The moment you nearly lose yourself, your life and your world followed by the moment you leave. You will endure two years, and still continual, abuse, stalking, financial devastation and fear. But it will all be worth it. Your son will be the sweetest, kindest more pure little soul and he will get you through the darkest days and blackest nights. In the moments of regret, hang onto this - you didn't chose a disaster, it found you and you turned it into something beautiful, powerful and positive. You made a little human who softens the world with his heart and you learned to have a voice when you were being pushed into silence. It will be your making.
5. Don't pluck your eyebrows. They are big, bold and epic. This one you will regret. Just, no.
6. Appreciate your unique upbringing, it will take you some time to realise how special it all was. Your childhood was beyond adventurous and until you find your life lacking in adventure, you may miss what a great gift you were given by your parents. What other kids have canyoned, rock climbed, been lost in forests, stood on cliff tops, kyacked down rapids, caved through tiny crevices (the claustrophobe in me still squirms at this thought). You have camped and traveled to just about every off the beaten track place in Australia and you will take that for granted. Try to give your son the same experiences, Step outside, get away from the bullshit of society and breath it all in. It was magic and it is still there waiting.
7. People will take you the wrong way. Your expressiveness, your big voice, your confidence and your optimism will come across as arrogance, as brash and as offensive to some. You speak without thinking and that will never change. Make sure you surround yourself with people who understand you and save yourself the pain of self doubt and worry when you are misunderstood. You can't change who you are, you can improve bits and pieces but the intrinsic, core of who you are simply is what it is. Don't ever feel you need to dull yourself down.
8. Keep your mums old clothes. Don't let her part with them, they are gems and you will be sad when they have been shipped off to vinnies. Also, keep records of things, photos, letters, funny emails, things that made you feel. One day, after over a dozen house moves, they will be lost and you will feel this profoundly.
9. Do not, I repeat, do not get in that car after a night out with someone who should not be driving, You live in Bondi, your absolute dream. You are happy. You love your job, you are enthralled by your fashion course, life is peachy. You will come too close, your life will flash before your eyes, you will be rushed off in an ambulance, you will be on the news, your footballer boyfriend will nearly be sacked from his club and you will be blamed, you will wake up in St Vincents Hospital wondering how your life was nearly taken and how you could be so stupid. You will drop out of your Fashion College due to stress and trauma, This will be one of your biggest regrets. Not that you believe in regrets, but please, save yourself this horror. Be smarter than that.
10. Enjoy what will be the most exciting 10 years of your life. Your twenties will be a roller coaster. You will live in Sydney, the Gold Coast, Newcastle and Canberra and back again. You will never stay in one place more than two years. You will climb the career ladder and fall from great heights. You will break hearts and have yours broken too, You will become a mum, you will learn what love truly means and you will look back and say "at least it wasn't boring". Don't be hard on yourself, just enjoy. And also, your thirties will be filled with an abundance of happiness and peacefulness, you will come full circle, you can relax.