Reflecting on my journey in the past years, I’ve realised that there are many things I could’ve done sooner, invested more of my time and energy in so that I could reap their cumulatively fruitful results today.

However, I’ve also realised that this doesn’t have to be a regret. These lessons I’ve learned would be applicable to any age, even right now, given that life is going forward, not backward, and we’re not racing against anyone.

I truly believe that every minute is another chance to turn your life around. It’s never too late to start doing differently for the better. 

Here’s the list of 6 things I tell myself now because either no one told me then, or when they told me, I didn’t listen:

 

1. Nobody thinks about you as much as you think they do.

When I was younger, I had a very hard time with anxiety and insecurity. I was constantly worried about what people said about me or thought of me. If I had a less than perfect social interaction with anyone, be it an acquaintance or a professional contact, I would immediately be convinced that they would cross my face for life, and this irrational belief was very distressing.

I wish someone had told me that people’s reaction to you is not permanent, and most definitely, they’re more consumed with themselves and thoughts of themselves than you. In fact, they rarely ever think about you longer than the moment you make eye contact with them. And even in that moment, they would likely be asking what you are thinking of them.

You should take people’s opinion of you into consideration for self-improvement but you should not stress about it. If they do actually think negatively about you that often, those thoughts stay in their head, so it’s their problem to deal with, not yours. Plus, they have limited perception of you. Their judgment, as a result, cannot expose or define the evolving entirety of you. You define you.

 

2. Taking care of your body will transform your life.

For a long time, I kept putting having a fit body in my list of goals but never had enough motivation to achieve it. I didn’t think it would make much difference except for maybe enhancing my appearance, which wasn’t really my big concern.

I wish someone would’ve told me when I couldn’t get myself to the gym that working out is so much more than vanity — it’s about increasing self-control and willpower, and the bodily changes, even when subtle, could be so mentally significant that they gradually transform your life.

Especially as women, our body goes through so many drastic transitions with age and childbirth (if you wish so). The earlier we start up-keeping it, the better and easier it will be for us in the long-run.

 

3. You’ll never have as much free time than you do now

The older you get, the more responsibility you usually have and the more tasks you need to get on within the time span of a day. With work, commute, socialising, household chores, self-care and so on, you will at some point struggle to find time for what truly matters to you.

I wish I had learned time management sooner when it was my most abundant resource. I wish someone would’ve told me it is important to be hardworking at what you love. Unlike a paid job with structured progress tracking, you won’t have real deadlines for any other areas in your life. If you settle along the way and make no change, nothing terrible happens. You don’t gain anything but you don’t feel like you lose anything either. Life goes on.

Only when you’re faced with the reality of who you are with unmet goals and unexplored potentials would you realise what you truly have lost: time to invest in yourself which could never be taken back. You don’t need to know exactly how your effort will materialise but doing something is better than doing nothing. Little things will add up.

 

4. Whatever emotional turmoil you’re going to go through, you need it.

There were times I regretted meeting certain people and going through certain things because in the face of numbing pain, those experiences felt unnecessary and unfair. As a result, I would often feel like I didn’t deserve it and wanted to erase pieces of myself and be someone different, less damaged (or so I thought).

I wish I had known then that things do happen for a reason, and that reason is not some mysterious universal force but me. I’ve learned that the outcome of your experiences of choice is primarily driven by your inner working which includes what you’re prone to engaging and how you react. When it’s negative, it’s your opportunity to look into yourself and understand what keeps you from harmony and fulfilment, then eventually strive to take a different course of actions. Until you do, you will keep ending up with the same emotional suffering and unwanted result.

Think about it — even if you went back in time and didn’t know what you know now, you would still do the same darn thing. So, don’t waste time regretting. Embrace what has made you a better you and march forward.

 

5. You will never feel as strong about something as when you experience it, so while you’re at it, don’t hold yourself back.

When you feel so overwhelmingly strong about something, your brain convinces you that this temporary state will last forever. But it doesn’t. You might remember feeling it later but you won’t be able to feel it the same way again once the moment’s gone. It means every time you hold yourself back, you rob yourself of wonderful and precious human experiences which might well be the anchor of your own existence.

Admittedly, I’m an emotional person. When I feel something, I feel all the way. I wish I had realised this sooner so I wouldn’t have suppressed my feelings and harmed my own mental health in the process. I would have stayed true to myself and not have let others dictate what’s normal for me. Truth is, the people who shame you for your emotions are the people who struggle with them the most.  

 

6. It’s okay.

It’s okay. It will be okay. Keep on going.