Things I Would Tell My 20-Year Old Self – #12 Jen

Welcome to another edition of Things I Would Tell my 20-Year Old Self! Today we have Jen of Connecting the Black Dots sharing some of the things she’d like to tell her younger self. I’m so happy to have Jen guest blogging today because I adore her. Even before I met her last year at Bloggers in Sin City for the first time, I felt connected to her – like she was someone I just had to know. Meeting her in person only confirmed this. Not only is Jen super cool to hang out with & Canadian (like me!), she’s a world traveller, loves dirty martinis and plays poker like a pro.


My favourite memory of Jen so far is the afternoon we spent wandering around Old Las Vegas drinking 99 cent margaritas and eating oversized hot dogs. It was totally awesome, however I’m really looking forward to hanging out with Jen again this year & hopefully making more great memories together that don’t involve questionable meat snacks.

I hope you enjoy Jen’s post as much as I do. Take it away Jen!

I remember when I was twenty and 30 seemed so far away. Now, my 29th birthday is rapidly approaching (less than a month away!) and I actually feel really good about it. I was so lost when I was twenty; just thinking about it makes me shake my head. I wish I could sit myself down and give myself a stern talking to, here’s what I needed to hear:
1. You are beautiful. Truly. You start recognizing this not only about yourself but about everyone else too. It sounds cheesy but it’s so true. I remember that time you cried because you ran into a girl you had known in elementary school and you weren’t wearing makeup. 20-year-old-Jen, give your head a shake girl. You will go MONTHS without wearing makeup and it will be the best damn time of your life.

2. That man-boy you’re dating is an asshole. You know this, and you’ll break up with him soon enough. Borderline abusive, he is damaging your self-esteem, your self-worth, and your relationships with friends and family. After you break up and move out you will have a really tough year. Very tough – you’ll even sleep on the floor for a month since you don’t have a bed and can’t afford to buy one. It’s okay, you’ll work it out and it will be worth it to be rid of him. Trust me.

3. You’re going to be single for a looooong time. You’ll date, you’ll have a pseudo-relationship, and you’ll be fine. But you will be single; I’m talking 7 years of single. You’ll love it, until one day you realize maybe you’re ready. You won’t settle and you won’t seriously date men who aren’t intelligent and kind. Maybe that’s the lesson you took away from the last one.

4. If you hate your job, leave. Yes, it looks good on paper. Yes, you feel very grown-up. Yes, you’re proud of yourself. But guess what? You are miserable. Going home after work and wallowing on the couch while eating ice cream is not healthy. Going out drinking all the time is not healthy. You’ll eventually get it together so don’t put so much pressure on yourself.

5. You also go to university, so stop stressing that you’ll never do that and P.S no one cares if you do or not except you. You ARE smart and stop acting as though you aren’t.

6. Remember that ‘best damn time of your life’ thing? After leaving the job you hate, you move to Central America, then to Eastern Europe and it’s all fabulous. You should have done that earlier.

7. Work on that temper! Being an Aries and a redhead do not help you out in this category, but try. You get much better at controlling it but it still flares up now and then. Keep calm; it’s never the end of the world.

So just know this, 20-year-old Jen, you’re braver than you think and you’re more fragile than you think. You make some pretty stupid mistakes but you also make some pretty good decisions. At 28 you’ll be happier, calmer, slightly wiser, healthier and overall more well-rounded. Just one more thing: laugh more, cry less, hug lots and be thankful for the people who love you.

What would you tell your 20-year old (or younger) self?

Things I Would Tell my 20-Year Old Self #11 – Laura

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been for the past week, I’ve been on a road-trip with my family (cue call to therapist.) I’m half joking – the trip, for the most part was actually a lot of fun (more on that soon!) However, now I have a lot of everyday life stuff, work and blogging to catch up on. Getting back into the swing of things has been harder than I thought. My half unpacked suitcase currently looks like it’s throwing up on my bedroom floor and yesterday I thought it was Monday, when clearly it was Wednesday.

Since I’m obviously a total train-wreck this week, I’m really grateful that Laura of Red Lips and Academics offered to take the reigns and write the next instalment of Things I Would Tell my 20-Year Old Self.  Laura is another awesome Bloggers in Sin City alum that I had the pleasure of meeting this year. Laura writes beautifully and just is all around lovely. She’s also a very stylish lady and I’m sure at several points during the conference I creeped her out because I was staring at one of her fabulous handbags or statement necklaces – this girl knows how to accessorize!  She’s also one of the people I met at BiSC that I wish I’d had more of a chance to get to know. It was only after we met that I found out we both love author Francesca Lia Block, which makes me automatically adore Laura too. I’m really happy to have Laura guest blogging today & hope that we’ll get a chance to hang out again in the future!

Hopefully you guys can relate to Laura’s advice to her younger self as much as I can (FYI. I probably should have had #2 tattooed on my arm during most of my 20’s.) Take it away Laura!

20-year old Laura

That boy you’re so madly in love with now? Not going to be there in seven years. But that’s okay.

Right now, you have no idea that boy you adore so much will soon break your heart. No idea those nights curled up in the crook of his arm will end. No idea you won’t spend another day sending silly text messages. No idea you’ll have to relearn how to be on your own. You’ll have no idea why it didn’t work out until many years later. And when you finally figure why, you’ll be thankful that it didn’t.

You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Including yourself.

I get it. You were a terrible high school student. Unenthused. Apathetic. Now you want to “make up for it” by being an overachieving college student with good grades and an even better resume. Listen, you don’t need to prove that you’re smart, good, _______ enough to your parents, your professors, your friends, yourself or anyone. Quit looking for self-validation in other people or outside achievements and just believe in yourself. You are enough.

Don’t bother making career plans. You’ll change your mind anyway.

Remember when you wanted to be a veterinarian or a psychologist? Doubt it. You’ve dutifully made plans all your life only to change your mind a few years, months, minutes later. So don’t freak out too much when you decide senior year of college you no longer want to be a journalist. I know you’ll think you’ve lost your way and wasted the past three years of your life in school, but you haven’t. Something bigger and better is in store with you outside of your plans, outside your comfort zone. Keep working hard. You’re preparing yourself for it.

You don’t change much in seven years, so start accepting yourself now.

You may change your mind about a lot of things, but who you are stays the same. You still dance wildly out-of-sync to pop songs. You still haven’t gotten over your childhood fear of grasshoppers. You still refuse to eat the crusts of your sandwiches. So get used to the quirks and start loving your flaws, and only hang around people who do both of those things willingly and out of love. You’ve got the rest of your life of just being you, and things will be a lot easier if you just accept who you are and forget those who don’t.

Enjoy being in your early twenties because that does change.

The window where you can do stupid stuff and blame it on your age is quickly closing, my friend. So, live it up and make the most of it! Do something others or even you find completely crazy. Take a risk. Then take another one. Make a good story, learn some hard lessons, and don’t be afraid to live your life. Silly, wild youth is a fleeting dream world. Enjoy your stay while it lasts.

27-year old Laura.

Follow Laura on Twitter (@laurabond) & make sure to check out her blog.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Things I Would Tell My 20-Year Old Self # 10 – Kate

I’m on vacation this week visiting my family in sunny Kelowna, BC. I’m trying to stay as “unplugged” as possible so I am really glad that Kate of Suburban Sweetheart  volunteered to write the next instalment of Things I Would Tell My 20-Year Old Self.

Suburban Sweetheart was one of the first blogs I really connected with when I started blogging. Kate has killer writing chops and is by far one of my favourite bloggers & writers, period. From her hilarious documentation of daily life, to her heartfelt posts about her loved ones, Kate is the only Blogger that has managed to make me laugh so hard I snorted AND cry, all within a couple posts. I’ve heard her blog described as “Seinfeld-esque” which is partially true – if you know, Jerry Seinfeld was female, had a social conscious and was actually someone you wanted to be friends with. Kate is smart, witty & stands up for what she believes in. This is all to say that I think she’s great and I am really honoured to have her guest blogging for me! I love her advice to her younger self and I hope you do too.

Dear 20-Year-Old Kate,

Man, it’s going to be a rough year for you. Like, “rough” doesn’t actually cover it. You thought last year was rough because during your sophomore year of college, life started to get a little nutty: You joined a sorority. Your roommate-slash-former best friend moved out. Your boyfriend of a year dumped you because he said you were “too depressing” (ouch). You were almost arrested for smoking pot with your RA, of all people. You drank a lot, slept around a lot, and cried a lot – sometimes all at the same time.

Kate, everything that happened last year was just building up to this one. Your twentieth year should be exciting, right? You should be full of “I’m not a teenager anymore!” happiness and excitement. But if you thought last year was bad, this year is going to grab you by the hair and smash your face against the ground like a bitch in a bar-fight. You’re going to wonder whether you can make it through; you’re going to doubt that there is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel that is your life. You’re going to think about killing yourself, but your ex-boyfriend is going to do it to himself first, and then you’re going to go bat-shit crazy for awhile. You will transfer colleges, move in with your mom, start dating someone new. You will basically lose yourself – not just this year, but for another year or two afterward, as well.

If I could give you a few pieces of retroactive advice, my dear young self, they’d be:

  • Life is better when you’re alive. This sounds like a given, but you don’t really feel this way right now, andI’m worried about you. Don’t you dare squander this opportunity to live your life.
  • Don’t date down. Years from now, you will recognize that in your grief, you started dating someone who was all kinds of wrong for you. A nice guy, sure, but do you really want to be dating someone with no education and zero ambition? Someone who laughs like a donkey with a sinus infection and dances like he’s being electrocuted? Take note, 20-Year-Old Kate. Bad choice.
  • Your sadness does not define you. At this point, you’ve started to believe that unless you’re hideously unhappy, you are not being your true self, like you’re some magnet for disaster. You’re a better writer when you’re lost, it’s true, but you’re also miserable, so it’s not actually a great trade-off. Let yourself get better, Kate. Let yourself be happy. The writing will survive. Let yourself survive.
  • Medication is not embarrassing. You’re going to cry like a baby when your doctor prescribes you Prozac – but then it’s going to start working, and you’ll never be embarrassed of it again. You wouldn’t think twice about taking medicine to control diabetes or high blood pressure, would you? Neither should you feel any shame about your depression. Let modern science work some miracles on you.
  • Just say no to McGriddles. Commuting to college from your mom’s house for an 8:00am class every day makes stopping for fast food breakfast reaaaaally tempting. But, um, I’m going to hate you for this one later because those pancake sandwiches sure have done a number on my – er, our – once enviable figure. Stop eating your feelings.

Let’s be honest, 20-year-old Kate: I can’t change things for you, no matter how much I’d like to try. The truth is that you’re in a bad spot right now, and you’re going to be for a couple more years. It’s going to be a long, hard road back to the top, but please believe me when I say that you will get there. And once you do? Man, you’re gonna have some stories to tell.

Lots of love,
Almost-28-Year-Old Kate

Follow Kate on Twitter (@heysuburban) & check out her wonderful blog here

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Things I Would Tell my 20-Year Old Self #9 – Doniree

It’s time for another episode of Things I Would Tell My 20-Year Old Self. Today’s post is brought to you by Doniree of | champagne with breakfast and living with intention. I recently got a chance to hang out with Doni at Bloggers in Sin City last month. Although we met last year at #BiSC, sometimes it’s hard when you’re at an event like that to get one on one time with everyone. I’m really glad that we got to spend a bit more time together this year. One word to describe Doni: inspiring. She runs her own business, does Yoga, takes gorgeous photographs and is an all around superstar blogger. Oh, and she has magical pink hair! I’m so happy that she agreed to share some of the advice she’d give her younger self. I hope you enjoy reading her post as much as I did!

To mix things up a bit, today you can find me over at Doni’s other blog, Nomadic Foodie, blogging about all my favorite places to eat in Victoria, BC. Enjoy!

20-year old Doni meets 29-year old Doni.

You don’t need all that shit.

No, seriously. You’ve got too much stuff, you’re a pack-rat, it’s time to let go of THINGS. You’re going to move all of your stuff NINE times (including two short stints while in between homes) in the next decade. At 29, you’re going to look back on this and roll your eyes at all of the STUFF you were holding onto. Actually, at 29, you’re going to look around your current living situation and roll your eyes at all the stuff you still have. Let it go. Your sense of wanderlust is going to take a strong hold in your life pretty soon, and it’d be so much easier if you just had fewer things.

Take better care of your body.

Or at least just realize that this energy and metabolism isn’t going to last forever. I know you hit the gym sometimes, but hit the gym more. Pay attention to where your food comes from and what’s in it. Pasta Roni is NOT real food. You have zero idea right now what kale actually is, but I wish you did. Stop being so lazy about brushing your teeth. All of your self-employment dreams are going to come true one day, which has the unfortunate side effect of NOT coming with amazing dental insurance. You’ll kick yourself for this one later, but your future dentist says thanks for the poolhouse she just built thanks to the money you’ll pay her in 2011 to fix your dirty mouth. Gross.


Just. Put them down. All of them. One would’ve been fine, but you don’t need FIVE, you don’t need to buy a DVD player with one of those five, and you definitely don’t need ones for Express and Victoria’s Secret. Step away from those applications.

Let go of the puppy love.

I know you don’t want to because we’re talking about a high school/college crush, and it’s cute, and it’s like, your first “real” relationship. (“Real” is debatable since you spent more time trying to be who you thought he wanted you to be instead of being yourself, but that’s a whole other story). Trust me. You’ll meet a guy soon enough that will take your mind off of him long enough to move you forward. He won’t be the right person, though. Neither will the next person you meet (and she’ll straight up tell you so). Something like three quarters of a decade later, you’ll finally start to understand enough about who you are (and who you want to be) that you’ll be able to make better decisions about who to date.

Oh, you don’t know what to do with your life? THAT’S OKAY.

Between age 20 and 29, you will be and/or have been: a full-time merchandise manager for a professional salon and cosmetics shop, a benefits specialist in the HR department for Target’s corporate offices, a broadcast and online media buyer at one of the oldest advertising agencies in the country, a struggling freelancer completely drunk off of the newfound freedom of setting your own schedule, a getting-by freelancer completely overwhelmed by the ability to set your own schedule, a community manager, a blogger, a blogger-networker, a brand ambassador, a social media strategist, an SEO copywriter, a prolific (or OK, a frequent) tweeter, and an addicted jet-setter.

By the time you’re 29, you’ll FINALLY have started your own business and thus will begin an entirely new era of making shit up figuring shit out.

Understand that Alfred Kinsey piqued your interest this year for good reason.

Sexuality is fluid. Well, ast least yours is, and it’s ok if that’s your truth and not someone else’s. Embrace it. Just because it’s black and white for others doesn’t mean it will be for you. This is going to be a tricky one, dear. While on the one hand you know, you’re not going to really understand what that means for you, your identity, or your prospective dating pool until you get a little older.

Oh, and it will get worse (or at least, overwhelmingly confusing) before it gets better. Your late-20’s self is going to want to time travel back to 2003 and tell you to figure this one out now, for heaven’s sake, but you won’t listen. It’s ok though, because it will get better. You know how to build a support network, and you’re totally going to have that in place when you really go through it later. And you’re going to count your blessings for compassionate friends and a supportive partner in the process.

You’re really going to do some amazing things.

No, really. I know you don’t know this right now, at 20, because you don’t really know who you are yet. You’re kind of a chameleon, easily adapting from one situation to the next, but never really understanding who YOU are and what unique things you bring to the table. It’ll take you years to finally uncover this, but you’ll eventually start to learn. Sometime around age 29 you’re going to learn what a honeybadger is, and why that little rodent really does have it all figured out.

In your late 20’s, you’re going to embrace your love of loud colors (and go back to dying your hair hot pink the way you did in high school), you’re going to stop censoring yourself because you’re afraid something you say might sounds “silly.” You’re going to say things. People are going to laugh with you, agree with you, disagree with you, challenge you, and respect you. Open your mouth. Say what you think. It won’t hurt.

That blog you started on a whim this year? Oh, honey. That’s going to take you places. Over the next nine years, you’re going to quit your job to start your own business, move across the country twice, go for hot air balloon rides, play in apple orchards, eat some of the best food in the country, and visit places like Traverse City, Wenatchee, Reno, and Snoqualmie because of your blog. That same blog is going to introduce you to some of the most mind-blowingly smart and inspiring people all across the world, and you’re going to be lucky enough to call them your friends.

So, date the wrong people (even the good ones in there won’t be able to keep up with you), keep writing those blog posts, daydream your heart out about living out of a suitcase sometimes, pay attention to the people you meet along the way, and go ahead — wear the neon, even if no one else is. Turns out it makes a comeback in 2012, just like you do.

Doniree Walker blogs at | champagne with breakfast and living with intention. She is the proud new owner of Eff Yeah Media, a social media consulting services business in Portland, Oregon. In her free time she takes a lot of pictures (mostly of food) and lives to find the balance between happy hour and yoga. You can find her in 140 characters or less @doniree.

 What advice would you give your younger self?

Things I Would Tell my 20-Year Old Self #8 – Casey

Greetings from Las Vegas!


As we speak, I’m probably trying to slow dance with a fake palm tree at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville after a few too many of their signature “Lucky Ritas” …in other words, I’m in no condition to blog. Luckily my friend Casey has stepped up to the plate to provide you guys with another installment of “Things I Would Tell my 20-Year Old Self” while I’m off galavanting around Vegas with a bunch of crazy bloggers. This guest post is a special one because I’ve actually known Casey since I was 20! Back in the day when Ja Rule still dominated the airwaves, puffy jackets were in style and we were both angst ridden 20-somethings, Casey and I connected on Livejournal & he became one of my first online friends. Living in Toronto, we eventually progressed to “real life friends.” Casey is funny, creative and one of the best guys I know. I hope you enjoy his post!

Take it away Casey!

Who is Casey Palmer in 2012?

Not even 30 yet, I can see a huge difference between Casey today and Casey 2003. I’ve done things that I couldn’t even dream of — I got married, own a home, and we’re looking at the possibility of having kids — if you even brought this kind of stuff up to me at 20, I’d look at you like you were completely insane.

But we learn a lot over the years, and I’d say what I’m sure you’ve all said at least once:

“If I knew then what I know now…”

When I was 20, back when Simone and I were still kickin’ it on LiveJournal, my life was a very different story. Insecure, self-defeating and finding himself a small fish in the university sea after having been a big fish in his high school pond, Casey 2003 needed some work.

With that in mind, Simone’s given me the chance to think about the advice I’ll go back to give my 20-year old self when I eventually get the chance….


You’re a pretty cocky little kid, man. You need to get off of your high horse and take that stick out of your ass ASAP. You might think you’re so smart, but there’re plenty of people who’re great at the things you suck at.

And trust me — it’s a lengthy list!

The thing that’s going to make your life a lot easier to live is humility — know your worth, but don’t go around wearing it like a crown, lording it over everyone else. You too will make mistakes. You’re nowhere near perfect.

Lesson #1: Love yourself in spite of it anyway.


You know, if you spent less time moaning that everyone else is having more sex than you and more time noticing how many women around you would actually be willing to give you a shot, I swear — you could’ve gotten laid by 16. No word of a lie

Yeah… you really need to start loving yourself. You’re an awesome guy, but you’ll never know it if you keep listening to the people around you. Lots of people care about you and want to see you do well — you just need to have a sense of self-worth first. Stop obsessing over the wrong girls, stop running away when women show interest, stop sacrificing yourself for people who don’t appreciate it, and just figure out who you are and what you’re all about. Everything falls into place after that.


Well, not as scary as you seem to think they are, anyway. Approaching someone showing a little interest won’t kill you, and just because you date someone, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be with them from now until enternity. Give these girls a chance! And while you won’t regret it all later, the sooner you man up in life, the better.


You’re going to do a lot of stupid things with your money. A ton. You need to smarten up.

Now, I’m not trying to tell you to start budgeting or to get smarter with WHERE you put your money — no, resign yourself to the fact that you’ll always suck at budgeting. What I’m saying is that you just need to buy smarter. A few tips:

Don’t bother spending all that money on a Discman or any other MP3 player; the iPod — and Apple with it — will run shit in the future. Jump on board now. (Get a Mac and some Apple , Inc. stock while you’re at it.)

If you’re going to insist on taking photos, just save up for an SLR and be done with it. All the money you’re going to blow on cameras would be better spent on some high-quality lenses and a sweet SLR body. You’re eventually going to do it anyway — might as well do it right.FAMILY MATTERS.

And last, but of course not least…


Take all the money you have and invest it in Apple stock. You’ll thank me in 2012!

For more Casey please visit his blog or follow him on Twitter @DoomzTOTo read the rest of the “Things I Would Tell my 20-Year Old Self” series please go here!


What advice would you give your 20-year old self? 

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