I’d tell myself that it’s okay to pace yourself. When you’re young, you think you have to do everything so quickly – you’re racing for knowledge and experiences. You think you need to tick all the boxes – graduate, get a job, get married, have kids, etc. Now, I can appreciate that you’ve got a lifetime to learn, to find your tribe, to find a partner, to be successful and acquire wisdom.
On that note, I’d tell myself just how much your life will be impacted by finding a life partner and being married. When you’re younger, you hear people say, ‘Marriage is hard, and it takes commitment – it’s a journey.’ But I don’t think you have any real appreciation of what that means until two lives are really entwined, you have children and you are navigating your middle years together under daily pressures. I’d want to share just how all-consuming being married and having a family can be, and how much patience, trust, effort and care is required for both parties to thrive individually and feel content together.
Same goes with parenting – it really is a full-time job, and without first-hand experience I had inaccurate expectations. I now understand the time and energy commitment, the selflessness and the rapid acquisition of upskilling you need to stay ahead of your kids. Of course, you learn as you go, and it’s all a great and wonderful discovery, but I wish I’d been less naïve about what it takes to be a good parent. I’d certainly tell my 16-year old self to be more grateful in the moment for all the effort and ‘less glossy’ things my parents did for us, and perhaps to be less self-absorbed along the way. Oh, and to be kind – kindness is a beautiful attribute to embody.