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Childhood photo with a cowboy hat
Photo by Kristine Cotharn

20 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

I recently turned 20, which is still crazy to me. If I could go back in time and have a conversation with my younger self, I would not tell her what is to come. I would simply give her some advice and comfort. I would run to her, give her a huge hug and tell her these 20 things:

  1. Don’t grow up too fast.

Being a kid is great: the freedom, the lack of responsibilities, the innocence. It’s okay to run around in the rain or watch Disney movies a little longer than is “normal.”

  1. Sensitivity is a superpower.

Being sensitive does not make you weak. It makes you empathetic and comforting to those around you. After all, the princess from “The Princess and the Pea” is a princess because of her sensitivity.

  1. Basic isn’t bad.

It’s okay to love pop music, coffee or astrology. If a lot of people like it, then it probably means it’s a good thing.

  1. Laughing is the best medicine and the best for bonding.

Don’t let people make you feel bad for laughing at everything or long after the joke is over. Laughing is contagious, so they will join in eventually and everyone will be happy.

  1. Just keep breathing.

When your mind starts to race and you can’t feel the ground beneath you, stop and take a deep breath. Look around and remind yourself that you’re safe. You’ll be okay.

  1. Your best friend is not who you have known the longest.

It may be hard to slowly grow apart from someone you’ve known your entire life, but you don’t have to talk every day to still be friendly. Your “best” friend is the person who was there when you needed them the most, and they would never walk out on you.

  1. You are never behind – you’re simply moving at your own pace.

Don’t compare yourself to your older brother all the time. He has four more years of experience. You don’t need to beat him at everything.

  1. Your environment is important.

The environment you choose to put yourself in will draw people of similar interests, and the people you surround yourself with are so important for your growth and happiness.

  1. Don’t let boys get in the way of friendships.

They are just boys, for goodness’ sake. There are plenty of fish in the sea that would actually support your friendships.

  1.  Social media is addictive.

Social media can drain you and leave you feeling empty when you are trying to fill your free time. Try to find other activities you can do instead. You will feel much happier and more alive.

  1. You’re probably just overthinking. 

No, she is not mad at you. No, he doesn’t remember that embarrassing thing you said. You’re just in your head again.

  1. Self-acceptance is the first step to self-love. 

Everyone talks about self-love and how important it is, but they never tell you how to get there. Once you accept the stuff you cannot change, you start to understand yourself and begin to fall in love with it.

  1. It’s okay to rest. 

Burnout is real, and your mental health should be a priority. Take your time and try not to spread yourself so thin.

  1. Forgive yourself. 

Everything that happened in your past made you who you are today. If you feel bad about the mistakes you made, that means you are maturing. You simply didn’t know at the time what you know now, so forgive yourself for going through the process of learning.

  1. Moderation is key. 

Whether this be with food, studying, people or working out, it is important to learn moderation. You can overdo anything and everything, even if it is “healthy.”

  1. Your clothes are the problem, not you. 

Grandma’s observation that girls should fit their clothes to their bodies rather than try to fit their bodies into their clothes is absolutely right. You can easily change an outfit to help you feel more confident in your own skin, because clothes are supposed to make you feel good. If you feel good, then you look good.

  1. Treat those around you with care. 

The way you talk to those around you is the same way they will talk to you. Use kinder words and try to be understanding. Even the strongest person you know is going through something they might not talk about.

  1. Gratitude is the secret to happiness.

There really is no “secret to happiness,” but gratitude will help you get there faster. You start to appreciate what you have and feel more fulfilled and loved.

  1. Ask for help.

Reaching out does not make you weak. It instead shows that you are brave enough to admit you need help and that you want to improve. Nobody is perfect, so it’s okay to reach out when you need it.

  1. It will all be okay.

As cliche as it sounds, it really will be okay. Everything will fall into place and make sense eventually. Just keep your head up and trust the process.

After 20 years, I have started to appreciate all the beautiful things life has to offer. I understand myself better, and I am growing into a woman I can be proud of. I hope you spread some love today and look back with pride at all the things you have accomplished – I’m proud of you for making it this far.

Kacy Cotharn

Baylor '24

My name is Kacy Cotharn. I am from Madison, Wisconsin. I grew up dancing and have always had a special place in my heart for creating art in any form. I love to spend time with my friends and find new ways to improve myself everyday.
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