Advice I'd Give My 20-Something Self


Advice for My 20-Something Self


6. Stay open.

Don’t be closed-minded. If someone has a different opinion than you, genuinely listen to it. They might be ill-informed, or they might have different values than yours, or they might actually modify your opinion on a topic. Either way, part of growing is staying open and keeping your ideas somewhat fluid. That said, if someone says something based on contempt, feel free to tell them to shut the hell up.

Advice for My 20-Something Self

7. Some people just want to bring you down, for no reason.

No reason that you’ll ever figure out, anyway. Whatever excuse they use to try to hurt you, it won’t be the real reason they’re upset. They’re upset because they’re jealous, or because they don’t like them self in comparison to you, but instead of admitting that, they find an unrelated excuse to blame their feelings on you.

I know it’s hard to understand, but some people simply won’t listen to reason. They can’t be convinced that they’re wrong. Why? Because they aren’t engaging their higher-thinking part of the brain. The more you try to convince them they’re wrong, the more they’ll try to prove they’re right and (illogically) get even more entrenched in their misguided emotions and ideas.

Related: How to Overcome Haters

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.


  1. Most important line written in history: DON’T WASTE ENERGY STRESSING ABOUT ANYONE YOU’RE NOT GOING TO MARRY.

  2. Alexa Falquet

    I am 20. I like reading a lot of articles on the similar topic because I am trying to learn from other’s perspective on life and experience. This one is special because it formulated as a warm advice. You made me consider voting for the first time in my life. I tried meditating once. It helped me immensely, and now I have the motivation to do it regularly. By the way, I’m bookmarking this! 😀

  3. Hannah S

    Really touching advice — and so on-target! I wish I’d known these things when I was younger…

  4. Jenny Garett

    I wish it wasn’t too late for me to follow your wonderful advice and to make one for myself. You know, i want to share an read this to younger people today. It was definitely exhale worthy and touched a part of my soul that needed to hear it. Thank you for this beautiful post. I like your list very much.

    • Thanks! It’s never too late to make positive changes and try to grow as a person. I’m always trying to grow — every day…

  5. Merry Robinson

    Loved all the advice. Brilliant! 🙂 I really enjoyed this article because it made me think. I really see where you are coming from and I connect with every advice you said. I want to read this to everyone I know. Great list, some real wisdom to be found. love lots! 🙂

  6. Elsie Spurlock

    This is a great article. After reading, I instantly felt relieved of some of my stresses and inspired to be thankful and happy. Accepting the things you can’t change is utterly important. If you start accepting the things you can’t change then you start accepting the people who won’t change. Thank you Hilary, it was good indeed, especially the last page which was the best.

  7. Kimberly Vigil

    These are not the regular tips/advice. You approached the issue from a different dimension. It was really great actually, my fave are nos. 1 & 3. Perfect to have all of this in one place. Thanks, Hilary!

  8. Esther Earl Harris

    Very well explained article! inspiring and interesting. one must read it! (:

  9. Louise Stone

    I am pretty sure this will be the advice i will keep every time I reach a new decade.

    Keep inspiring!

  10. Grace Stirling

    Great bits of advice! I can definitely relate to the part about people and men. We all live and learn.

  11. Rosemary Robles

    Several of those things I would love to go back to my old self and tell myself too! LOL

  12. Heather Strobel

    I’ll take these awesome advice with me everywhere i go.

  13. Cornelia Green

    There sure are hard lessons to go through and hard habits to break, I’m 19 years of age. It feels like everything you wrote was just for me.


  14. Helen Dark

    This is an amazing post filled with excellent and inspiring advice! Definitely worth living by, thank you so much!

  15. Ashley Moore

    Well said. This is one of many reasons why i’m always patronizing your site. I would like to share what’s on my list- people are afraid of rejection and afraid to fail. I think we should always keep trying, move forward and stay optimistic even if we lose. Now, i’m on the look out for your next inspiring posts. Thank you for sharing!

  16. Lela House

    I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for your insights Hilary! This feels like a very sound advice. I’m about to turn 30 myself. Don’t waste energy stressing about anyone you’re not going to marry- this advice hit me the most. I also grew up thinking that finding a man is important and he will complete my life. I came to realize that romance wasn’t necessary for happiness.

  17. Hazel Collins

    Interesting read! i couldn’t have said it better. This post moved me at a profound level which rarely happens to me. I do find myself telling these to every young girl and you have a good advice to ponder at any age. I’m so glad that i stumbled across these honest pieces of advice. Thank you for always sharing interesting articles and your wisdom.

  18. Sarah Uibel

    God, I wish I could go back and re-do my 20’s. Such a crazy period in my life…

  19. Linda Collie

    As always good writing & information, Hilary !

  20. Kim Hartford

    Can relate to every single one of those points! Scary. But found this really encouraging. Weird how fast your teenage years can go!

  21. Sasha Rosswell

    A great read, Hilary! As informative it may be, it’s also rather emotional. 🙂 Well done! xo

  22. Jennifer McSween

    I love this! When I really think about it, the only thing that made my growing up years tough was anxiety, mostly about the future. Trying to figure out “what I wanted to be when I grew up” was probably the determining factor behind much of my angst and unhappiness. Yet the older I get the more laid back I become. I’m no longer a teen and I still haven’t decided “what I want to be when I grow up.” I’ve solved that problem by deciding I’m just not going to grow up.

  23. Sabrina Grattidge

    I absolutely loved reading your article. Our teenage selves sound so similar 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  24. Diana Hewitt

    Funny, I think I could have written the same things to myself! Enjoyed this blog very much. Thank you <3

  25. Lynn Hayes

    Thank you, beautiful soul! This post has touched my heart.

  26. Roberta Bennett

    I genuinely love this article! It really inspired me to do the same.

  27. Frances Seifert

    Amazing stuff, Hilary! You could totally be a life coach! ?❤️

  28. Amanda Roberts

    Sharing this! There are some advice here that could in some ways be a life saver for some young girls I know!

  29. Kimberly Thompson

    I adore this post! there’s so much i could say to my teen self, but there’s only one i could share here with everybody else “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” 🙂

  30. Emma Blackwood

    I think you’re amazing, Hilary! You are so down to earth, kind and intelligent! Thank you for sharing another masterpiece of an article with us. <3

  31. Catherine White

    There was much wisdom in all of that, and I am going to have my teen sisters read it! Amazing how our perspective changes as we mature…

  32. Nicky Bryan

    I am fairly sure the only advice my teenage self would have listened to is the advice I would give myself now: read more books, real books, none of that werewolf vampire stuff.

    • Definitely! I’m still trying to find more time to read. I think the best way is to just schedule it (or, if you commute, read on your commute instead of Instagramming).

  33. Pearl Nguyen

    I love all the advice you wrote there!! Amazing letter to self article. 🙂

    I would have only one thing to say to a younger me; Dear Teenage Me, please come back. You were better at this life thing than I am. 😉

  34. Leslie Williams

    Thanks for the thoughts! I suggested this to some teachers as a project for teens. 🙂

  35. Emily Wentz

    Excellent article!

    I am still a teenager, so I can’t exactly do this. However, I enjoyed reading your letter. I could relate to many of the things you said.

    Thanks for sharing! I enjoy reading your blog on a regular basis…although I do not get around to commenting much.

    Keep it up!

    • I love reading comments — and it helps me figure out what is resonating with readers, so thanks for commenting!

  36. Sibel Jenkinson

    Your advice is spot on! I’ve come to recently too, after about almost 10 years of continuous dabbling in and tweaking my own fabulous little career experiments!

    If I had anything to say to my teenself that would be “Do not let career counselors fool you—you do not need to know what you want to do right now. Your career trajectory will span, about 40 years, so there is a lot of time to experiment, try new things, make subtle adjustments and find the right intersection of your skills and someone who needs them.”

    • So true — the average person goes through 7 careers in their lifetime.

  37. Pamela Sanabria

    I’m still a teen at heart, but i’d tell my teenage self not to be afraid of what anyone thinks. I used to worry about how others judged me all the time and I feel this held me back in several areas.

  38. Delilah Peyton

    Top quality post, Hilary!

    The advice that I would give to my teenage self is the same advice that I give to myself now: trust your instincts 🙂

  39. Kaitlyn Barrett

    So good. Every point was beautiful and true. That was a fantastic read. ???

  40. Camila Hilhorst

    I think mine might simply say: GET OVER YOURSELF.

    I have little patience for self-absorbed teenagers. Myself included.

  41. Helena Stevens

    Great post! I would add, for myself: You are more important to the world than everyone else thinks you are, but not as much as you think you are. 🙂

  42. Olivia Peterson

    My advice to my teenage self would be: “Be prepared. Everything you swear you’ll never do, you’ll end up doing…” That has been the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn and it’s resulted in the most regrettable consequences.

  43. Andrea Mitchell

    I think I would tell my younger self to be at peace with who you are because who you are is who I am now and I wouldn’t be me if not for that stubborn, frightened, trying to please everybody so they’ll like me. And I like who I am. So she may have put off her dreams to do all that crazy futile pleasing, but now the dreams seem more valuable then they did back then. Maybe different choices could have been made, but the thing I wish I had been back then was less afraid. I have only just begun to be less afraid. It’s a terribly hard habit to break!

  44. Sydney Nowak

    Great stuff Hilary! I often wish it were possible to combine the vigor of youth with the wisdom of experience. Perhaps that’s why I should work out and take omega 3’s? 😉

    • Definitely — your health affects not only your energy levels, but your mood 😉

  45. Shannon Bradley

    I like your list, but even if I could give it to myself, I doubt I would have listened.

  46. Anna Kaplan

    I LOVE this!!!
    I would love to go back and talk to myself too…at around my late teens. I don’t know if it would have helped…after all i didn’t listen to my family or my friends, what makes me think I would listen to an older me?
    What I do think though is that I learned a lot by my mistakes, and they have led me to where I am now…so maybe it wasn’t so bad.

  47. Betty O'Leary

    Love this post! I did this a long time ago in a notebook to myself (I think I was like 23) and I am ready to give myself another talking to. You told yourself a lot of great stuff. 🙂

  48. Julia MacLean

    I’d tell the teenage me to be nice, that coolness is overrated, and doc martens aren’t all that comfortable. 😉

  49. Celine Carter

    Great collection of advice. I agree with every bit 🙂

  50. Franny Pimms

    Thanks – you inspired me to write me a letter!! It’s very introspective to the mindsets we develop and encouraging to push through the bad and give credit for the good. We all have a purpose! Love your writing.

  51. Lana Urie

    An excellent one! Even at my age I still feel like a teenager. And believe to start a new life all over again from any point. So, one can be a teenage as long as they want. lovely post!

  52. Monica CONOVER

    What a great post! I would tell myself:
    1. It’s okay to take yourself – and life – a little less seriously.
    2. Learn to be comfortable in your own skin. You won’t be happy otherwise.
    3. Be adventurous and try new things. It’s more fun than sitting home alone watching reruns – and you’ll have some great stories to tell.
    4. Failure is okay. Just learn from it.
    5. It’s also okay if you don’t have it figured out. Sometimes not having a plan is the best plan.

  53. Marina Henderson

    In my work I write a lot about my childhood. I just chronical the crazy little kid I was. If I wrote a note to my teenself, I wonder if I would have read it? Well, I read the ketchup bottle if nothing else was available so I suppose I would have. Thanks for sharing yours.

  54. I love your posts for their diversity and uniqueness. These are all the best advice for teens.

  55. I would say to my teenself; keep writing, don’t take a break. Make it daily.

  56. This article really hit home for me…when I was a teenager, acting really got me thorough those years. Going on stage helped me a lot with real life situations and eventually made me realize that individuality is the most valuable asset. It’s so hard sometimes to be yourself and not fear judgement. I learned that its OKAY to feel sexy in a pair of Converse and not wear push-up bras 😉

  57. Melani Kalev

    Very valid points. Sometimes I wish my younger self would have known all of this from the get-go but then again, if we knew everything beforehand, we wouldn’t really learn anything in this life, eh!? Experience being the best teacher, as they say 🙂

  58. Christine Muchoe

    This is all so true- especially the part about getting rid of toxic friends/boys. I wish I could have told my teenage self that getting other people to like you is not important. What is way more important is finding other people that appreciate you and your values rather than changing them for a boy or a friend. You should never accept being put down because there is no excuse for that! Confidence and self love should come before everything.

  59. God, would I love a chance to go back and tell my younger self all the things I know now. Would saved me a ton of pain and frustration. While there are benefits to not knowing what the future holds, I would have liked to at least known what I might encounter, how to handle certain situations, etc. I wonder what I think of this article in 20 years. Will I feel that much “smarter” then, and wish I could know now what I’ll know then?? Interesting and fun to think about. Thanks for making me think Urbanette!

  60. I’ve learned so many things on my own when I was a teenager. Do I wish someone had told me something, like some advice? Of course. I wish someone told me that my boyfriends in high school will all forget me once we move to college. Or that the hobbies I start to pursue in high school are the ones that I’m really interested in. Or that I shouldn’t stress about choosing a major because I can change my mind a million times in college. 😀

    • Agreed 🙂 They say the average person has seven careers in their lifetime…

  61. Being a Teenager is tough. They experience all kinds of new changes Physically and Emotionally. At time they feel misunderstood as they are struggling to leave behind their childhood and become adults.
    The worst feeling is when Adults say “Oh you are not big enough to give your opinion when adults are talking.” and the same people at times are like “You are not a kid anymore, why don’t you try to be more responsible?”
    I, being in my late 20’s, do understand the difficulties that Teenagers go through, but its also true that when I myself was a Teenager, it used to be irritating to handle so much.
    Its upto Parents and Guardians to keep in mind how to treat Teenagers. Its a very complicated phase of life.

    • I agree — I hated being treated and talked to like a kid when I was young. I felt so much older than people treated me.

  62. There will always be a “negative” comment no matter what you do! Living a life considering what other people will think will just keep you frustrated and unsuccessful!

  63. Hannah Mayers

    Well, one thing’s definite! Our teen selves should have fun! 🙂

  64. All of this is GREAT advice! Thanks so much for sharing–all of this is spot on 🙂

  65. Jen Garcia

    If there’s one thing I would like to tell myself, it is “you cannot please everybody.” All my teenage life, I was living trying to think what other people will think. From the way I dress to the way I speak to the foods I eat, everything, I tried to live within the norms of my society.I tried to blame myself if someone speaks of negatively about me. This “following with society’s norm” somehow hindered me from truly enjoying my teenage life.

    One thing I learned is that “one single mistake matters” and you’re “hundred accomplishments” will be put into waste because of that single mistake.

    Life should be enjoyed… be yourself and have fun!

    • Jennifer Roberts

      By trying to please everyone, you’re not being true to who you are, and you’re robbing yourself of finding friends who’ll love you for you. That was a hard lesson for me to learn, especially being lesbian. 😉

      • More often than not, we learn things the hard way! It’s really important to be “true” to yourself! That’s the only way to be genuinely happy and that’s the only thing we can do to avoid asking what if’s in the future. Glad you learned your lesson, Jennifer 🙂

  66. I wish I can go back and tell myself a lot, mostly pertaining to self-love and confidence. I’m only 21 years but would love to tell my 14 year old self things I know now. And I know in years to come I'll will want to tell my 21 year old self a lot of things. But learning is all about growing and getting older, making mistakes,going through breakups and losing friends. It's all for the best and prepares us for life. I really enjoyed this article, it would be nice if time machines existed.

  67. Jen Spillane

    I LOVE this article. I really wish someone had told me these things when I was a teenager. I am going to send it to my younger brother. Such good advice–especially not assuming that what people say is true, and not searching for your soul mate in order to not project that onto someone else just because you want it. The former is something I'm still working on: not assuming that everyone else's opinions are formed in the same way, and therefore will not always be based on, say, research and critical thinking. 😉

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