past-self-advice

Why Giving Your Past Self Advice is Useless

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Updated May 2, 2017

I’ve seen many writers do posts on advice for their past self.

screw-regret

So I figured I’d do one.

After all, I have a lot of knowledge today that I didn’t know in the past.

It would have saved me a bunch of trial and error if my “ghost of Taylor yet to come” spilled the beans on this stuff from the get-go.

Right?

So I go to write and remember something craaaaazy…

I already tried advising my past self at a party and she didn’t have time for it.

No lie. I met myself in the flesh a few years go.

I tried to give her advice. It didn’t work.

Here’s what happened.

I was minding my own business at a rooftop party (fancy, huh) when this woman comes up to me and starts talking hair care.

Of course, I can go on for days on this topic because I just recently figured out how to control my curly hair.

She mentions that her daughter is about to go off to college, she has hair like mine, and she has no idea what to do with it.

“Let me go get her,” she says. “You guys need to meet.”

Well, okay.

She darts off into the crowd, comes back with this shy teenage girl, and then disappears again leaving us alone to chat.

As soon as she opens her mouth, I realize it’s me.

She hates her curly hair. Check. She’s one of only five black students at her school. Check. All her friends have straight hair and that’s what she wants. Check. She has an overly friendly mom. Check. She’s a little awkward. Check.

And to top it off at the end of our conversation the 18 year old “me” asked where the cooler with the alcohol was. (Foreshadowing? But really, lady come get your daughter!)

What I told myself…

If you had the opportunity to talk to your younger self you probably expect something profound would be said.

Something so enlightening that you’d have an “Ah Ha” moment and life would become a lot clearer a lot sooner.

That’s not how it went down.

Instead, I found myself on the adult side of the same lectures I avoided at 18. And it was creepy.

First, I stated the obvious – stop straightening and relaxing your hair so much it’s starting to get pretty damaged (okay, very damaged).

Curly hair is in. I know this from experience girl.

Then, I went the self-esteem route with the – don’t care what people think. Be yourself. Embrace your natural beauty. Stop trying to be something you’re not. Accept your differences.

Sure she agreed with the logic.

But I noticed it was going in one ear and out the other. And she flat out told me she planned to continue her damaging hair methods in the pursuit of bone straight hair.

Wow, Taylor. Great advising.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda is #Dead

It’s not the girl’s fault.

Just like it’s not our fault for being the way we were back then.

It’s useless to reflect on your past life and think, gosh darn it if only I had known this one thing before skipping Paris (yes, this is a reference to The Hills).

Even with the right knowledge it’s doubtful it would change anything about our past because we have to find out for ourselves.

Your “Ah Ha” moments come with experience.

I tried fruitlessly to knock myself her on the head with the information that would change my her life perspective at 18. Clearly, she was not trying to hear it.

So, what advice do I have for the younger me?

Learn from the process. What you’re doing now is going to make you successful in the future.

I encourage you to do the same.

If you beat yourself up about mistakes you’ve made in the past – forgive yourself.

And appreciate the battle scars that got you to today.

— This post or page may contain affiliate links. Don’t worry, though. I only promote products that I’ve used or truly believe in.

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Taylor K. Gordon is a writer and money blogger. She writes on how to live your best life without going broke.

6 Comments
  1. Reply Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed September 12, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Nice Hills reference. Lauren was so stupid lol! I definitely wish I could tell my HS self my hair secrets (aka stop washing it so much and just let it do it’s thing). I try to give some of my Braves cheerleaders (13 yo) life advice… I’m not sure they’re ever listening haha.

    • Reply Taylor September 12, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      LOL thanks! MTV was running an afternoon marathon a few weeks back and it was fresh on my mind. Oh Lauren, why did you choose Jason?

      Hair secrets would have been wonderful. My hair was soooo dry. Years from now the girls will think – oh crap, I remember when Coach Amber said xyz.

  2. Reply Michelle September 12, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    People have to learn on their own about who they want to be. There is a lot of advice that I was given (and ignored) or listened to on the road to where I’m at now.

    • Reply Taylor September 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      Definitely! Live and learn!

  3. Reply Lisa vs. the Loans September 15, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    YES – lessons are really learned with experience. You can tell/advise/nag/etc. all you want, but sometimes you’ve just got to let people touch a hot stove and let them experience it for themselves.

    • Reply Taylor September 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      LOL I’ve touched a lot of hot stoves. Nagging made me want to do the opposite.

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