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Community members reveal what advice they would like to give their 18-year-old selves

by Aiden

Back to the future!

By Kiran Khanijow

You know how people joke on birthdays with questions like, “Do you feel any wiser?” The funny thing is that with age, I actually do. Most of us spend our lives worrying; from our teenage years, all the way up to our twenties and thirties, we worry. We worry about being enough – being pretty enough, being smart enough, being included enough. Then we worry about not being enough. We worry about things that are beyond our control. And finally, we worry about all the little things in between as well.

Believe it or not, becoming older has brought a huge shift to my life. Like so many thoughts I’ve worried about, this, too, isn’t what I’ve built it up to be. As another year ends and I celebrate my birthday month, landmark moments like these spark contemplative thoughts for personal evolution. If there’s one person we have to live with for the rest of our lives, it’s with ourselves. When we’re young, we usually believe that we’ll be immortal and that there’s an entire carefree journey ahead of us. Reality usually hits later as we realise that life is short, and time is running out.

There are some memories I wish I could rewind and replay for the rest of my life, and others I would like to forget completely. So, imagine meeting someone who owns a time machine and gives you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel back in time to talk to your younger self. What are some pieces of advice you would tell your 18-year- old self just venturing into adulthood? For me personally, the Holy Grail of advice I would tell my younger self would be to trust my gut instinct. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it definitely is a duck! We’ve spoken to community members of all ages to hear their take.

Wedding Planner and Event Curator

‘Don’t take things too seriously,’ and ‘don’t be too concerned about what people think,’ are two pieces of advice I would definitely go back to tell my 18-year-old self. These two thoughts make us anxious and unproductive. Rather than being too concerned about other people’s thoughts, put your energy into doing what you love. This way, you won’t have time for criticism and useless banter.

For example, a younger me would seek validation from others and spend time worrying about what people would say, and would take them too seriously. Today, my daily habits have helped me to stay connected to myself. A few morning rituals of mine that have helped me shift my mindset towards my goals and block outside noise are 15 minutes of meditation, a morning walk, listening to my favourite podcast, setting my goals and intention for the day, and some positive affirmations. Also, alone time with my coffee!

Accepting that we all go through transitions in life allows us to live in the moment. Believe that one will always be in the right place at the right time, so just work on your daily habits and keep the faith.

Managing director, BSK Textiles

Looking back to my 18-year-old self many years ago, I had no idea where I was headed. At the time, what I studied could not be applied to Bangkok, so I joined the family business. I’d like to tell myself to be confident and to have faith that things will work out. To meditate daily and reflect on The Power that gives wonderful opportunities in life. To be calm and steady and to always be grateful to teachers and parents.

I would recommend to keep reading classic self-improvement books by famous authors like Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill, Sikh history, Indian history and Gurbani (religious texts) as well. Put to practice all habits to become a new and improved person.

Science Teacher and Actor

The advice I would give to myself at 18 would be to express myself. Expressing my passions and my identity to the fullest capacity so that I and the loved ones around me would understand my heart’s calling. This is important as it would have helped me shape my destiny in a way that synced with my core nature. I would have been able to nurture my nature to my highest potential and had a life filled with love and a fully-expressed identity.

Chief Operations Officer, Powella

I would have told my 18-year- old self to ‘choose my battles’ and to ‘listen more’. At 18, I felt everything needed to be fought for or fought about – not that I was necessarily right all the time to begin with. One example which I will keep close to my heart is when my dad would tell me that saying sorry doesn’t erode your value as a human being. If anything, it helps diffuse a situation and makes everything better. As a young girl, that eventually stuck with me and I am incredibly grateful to have received that advice and actually listened to it.

It’s important to approach issues holistically and to understand everything from all sides before engaging in an argument. Having said that, some issues need not be argued over. Sometimes, agreeing to disagree is the best way to move on. There is no love lost just because you and a friend have differing opinions. Also, listening more would have allowed me to learn more. Learn to observe how people react, understand their characteristics, what irks them, etc. Dealing with all kinds of people to achieve desired outcomes is an important life skill. In general, listening more is always better. We should all adopt this lifelong learning approach and listening is one way to get there.

Business Owner

Looking back, the one piece of advice I’d give to my younger self would be to never be afraid of making mistakes. Fear of being wrong or ridiculed is what prevents us from getting out of our comfort zone. Being able to move past our fears and trying something new always yields one of two results. Either you make a self-discovery and tap into a talent you never knew existed, or you make a mistake, learn a lesson in the process, and move on. Mistakes are a part of life and will always be the best teacher for personal growth.

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