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What I Wish I Knew When I Was Your Age: 15 Pieces of Advice I Received From My Family When I Turned 20

When I turned 20 this past month, after wishing me a happy birthday, my aunt suggested that everyone in my extended family group chat send some advice they wish they knew when they were 20. Immediately following that message, she sent a list of advice, which could only mean she already had the response to her own question prepared.

At first, the unsolicited advice bothered me, since I prefer to ask for advice before receiving it, but I then realized that it could be helpful, as I am only 20, and according to one of my father’s advice points, “I still have a lot to learn.” Taking this into account, I waited patiently for the rest of my relatives to send me their wisdom. The advice of my aunts, grandma, and parents are compiled below, and although they are older and have more life experience than we do, “trust your intuition” (another one of my aunt’s points) as to how relevant these points are to your own life.

  1. Travel now, travel now, travel now! Travel is the best form of education. 
  2. Start doing yoga now, learn to meditate, and make it a habit (unsurprising coming from my yogi grandmother).
  3. Don’t stay too long in relationships that aren’t good for you — this goes for friends as well romance. If there isn’t mutual respect, walk away.
  4. If you have a perfect friend, do not let time and distance and life keep you from staying close and connected.
  5. Learn to listen to and trust your intuition — this will save you a lot of soul searching throughout your life.
  6. Don’t let anyone pressure you into anything: advice and pressure are not the same (see previous point for understanding the difference).
  7. Take care of your vital organs. For your brain: write and read. For your heart: exercise regularly and let yourself laugh and cry when you need to. For your lungs: go outside every day, and eat healthfully (this one is not shocking coming from my doctor mom).
  8. Most of the big decisions you feel you have to make aren’t as fateful as they might feel.
  9. Get a dog (coming from my mom who took us years to convince to get one).
  10. Never respond to work emails at night if you are angry. 
  11. Don’t judge people if you haven’t been in their shoes. 
  12. Take (reasonable) chances — like volunteering to speak to a large group or learning something new. Challenge yourself.
  13. You don’t know everything, you still have a lot to learn.
  14. Embrace and learn from your failures.

And my personal favorite: be proud and unapologetic about who you are. You can listen to “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga or “Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves for further explanation on this one.

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Lily Krivopal

U Mass Amherst '24

Lily is a sophomore marketing and Spanish double major who is passionate about community service. You can always find her in the pool or outside running, hiking, or reading in a hammock.
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