What would you tell your younger self?

‘Never deny who you are for anyone. Stay true to yourself’

When I was talking with my college friends a couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I was and still probably am the quiet kid of a group. Some of them seemed confused, while some of them gave me the “I-don’t-know-how-to-break-this-to-you” face.

Surprised by the unexpected reactions, I asked, “Am I not?” Everyone started laughing, and that is the moment I realized I was not the quiet kid anymore.

It is true. Many of my old friends and family members have recently told me that my personality has changed significantly. I was a shy kid, and talking to strangers was not my hobby. However, after years of moving around new cities and even countries, I have become a more outgoing person. I enjoy meeting new people, and I am often the one leading the conversations when I am with friends.

Honestly, I love who I am now, and I am happier. I not only have more friends but am brighter and have higher self-esteem. I wish I could tell my younger self to be more confident and not avoid talking to new people.

Looking back at the time and pondering how I have changed, I became curious about other people’s experiences. So I went out and asked young women a simple yet difficult question: What would you tell your younger self and why?

Kaitlin Stoner, 21, Student (French, German, Computer Science)

Kaitlin Stoner

“Don’t feel like you need to dress or act a certain way or be feminine to be attractive. Just be you.

“I always felt like I needed to be more feminine, like I couldn’t have short hair or dress in boys’ clothes. So, I just tried to force myself to act in a more feminine way, and I was just never comfortable with myself.”

Kelly M., 23, Graduate Student (Pharmaceutical Sciences)

Kelly M.

“1)To think more independently and to be less influenced by others opinions of who you should be. 2) Keep smiling.

“I found myself listening to a lot of other people’s opinions about what to do or what not to do. A lot of people have led me to a lot of great opportunities, which I’m really thankful for, but I haven’t been quite passionate about all of them. So, I know a lot of what I don’t like, as opposed to what I really am passionate about. Listening to other people kind of steered me away from what I am really interested in. But, now, I am kind of like “Oh yeah, man, I should try that,” and pursuing it has been really great.

“I would tell myself to smile because smiling just makes everything better. I like to smile. It’s great.”

Angel Lee, 20, Student (Journalism)

Angel Lee

“Hey younger self, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just live life freely.

“When I was younger, I used to have a big fear of failure. I would never let myself be adventurous or make any mistakes. I think it’s because I was always afraid of the consequences that come with it. I think I never took risks or never lived life truly or freely. I think I would like to tell myself to just live life with mistakes and it’s just about to happen, and no matter what I do there will be mistakes at the end. So, with that knowledge to live freely, and making mistakes is fun. I think coming to college, I’ve made more mistakes, and it does make me realize how exciting life can be.”

Emily Calbaum, 21, Graduate Student (Veterinary)

Emily Calbaum

“I would tell my younger self not to be so shy and to try new things. As a child, I often avoided talking to new people and trying different activities because I thought I would be bad at it and I think I missed out on having new/fun experiences.

“As a child, I wish I wasn’t so shy and I tried more activities because I feel like I didn’t talk to people that I didn’t know because they were kind of scary. And I didn’t try new things because I was afraid I would be bad at them, and I didn’t want people to laugh at me. I feel like I missed out on a lot of fun things that kids only get to do.”

Alexa G., 20, Student (Economics, German)

Alexa G.

“Your worries are hilarious.

“Historically, I have worried about many things, and worrying about them more has not fixed any obstacle or problem I’ve faced in my life. Things are a lot more enjoyable when you don’t worry about them and funnier. Horrible experiences can turn out to be really fun when you’re not worrying about them.”

Deb Garvey, 30, Graduate Student (Toxicology)

Deb Garvey

“1) Be more focused on goals rather than friends, as goals are forever and friends come and go. 2) Never deny who you are for anyone. STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF.

“Be more focused on goals. In undergrad I wasn’t as focused as I could be. A little bit in high school as well. High school wasn’t so bad. So, I think I gained some focus later on, but if I had an earlier start, I think it would have been better. It’s not the worst. I turned out fine, but I wasn’t that focused on myself. I was really focused more on friends and making friends and doing things with friends, and, some of those friends, I don’t even know where they are know, so I really should have been focused on that.

“Never deny who you are for anyone. I’ve been told a lot, ‘don’t do this,’ ‘don’t do that’ or ‘this wouldn’t look good’ or ‘maybe you shouldn’t do that with your hair,’ ‘maybe you shouldn’t get tattoos,’ ‘maybe you shouldn’t get piercings,’ and now I’ve done it all, and I’m happier, and I wish I could go back and tell myself, ‘Hey, don’t be afraid of what people are gonna think. Just be true to yourself.'”

Jae Kim, 20, Student (Psychology, Communication Arts)

Jae Kim

“Dear younger Jae :), love yourself because you are WORTH IT!!

“When I was younger, I used to have low self-esteem. So, since a few years ago, I would look into the mirror and tell myself at the end of the day that I did well and I am good for who I am. Now, I have high self-esteem, and I wish I knew it little earlier. I’d like to tell my younger self to love myself because I am worth it.”