What Do You Wish You’d Known At 22?

On May 15th, I’m launching The Post College Survival Kit, a guide to growing up without effing up. You can see the course outline here or even download a sweet 14-page free ebook here.

At 22, I had a nose ring, bangs and I spent the summer after college teaching English in Brazil.
Then I went home and got a job that paid me little and gave me anxiety stomachaches. You can’t win ’em all!

If I could travel back in time, there are many, many, many pieces of advice I’d share with my 22 year old self. I asked you guys what you wish you’d known at 22 and this is what you said:

There’s nothing sexy about denying yourself the things/feeling you want/feel, out of “shoulds.” Also, researching the physical environment/work atmosphere of the career you think you want is CRUCIAL. Cate

I wish I’d known that a masters degree didn’t guaranty you a job – I might have just stuck with my BSc! Elle

Do not fight feeling overwhelmed. Ask for help. You are enough. Grades really don’t matter in the real world, networking does. Maria

That overpriced volunteer programs are so not worth it. Amelia

Nobody will fight for your dreams if you don’t. Davinia

University is not a must, don’t rush marriage or kids, do what you love to do. Em

That I could have whatever life I wanted to have – I might not have wasted 9 years in corporate law then! Rachel

That there are no timelines or milestones, we don’t have to “be” by a certain age, and the only thing getting in our way of what we want is ourselves. Sarah

That baking bread and making cheese were great ways to spend time. Michael

That you should travel more, talk to more people, and not be afraid to take big chances and fail spectacularly. You’re young, and people don’t expect you to “know better” so when’s a better time? Laura

I wish I would’ve known that I didn’t have to waste time with people that didn’t really care about me. Tara

Leave the Visa alone! Katie

I am not responsible for other people’s choices/actions/feelings. D. Kate

To save my money a bit better and plan things out. The traveling and concerts were worth it, but all the stupid little things? Not so much. Also, to stop worrying so much about how others feel or think of me. Tiffany

That broken hearts do heal and that hard work does pay off. Natalie

Starting over is always an option. Adam

I can make a better tomorrow starting today, with myself and my attitude. Erica

Patience. I was, and at times still, in such a rush to get to the “thing” – job, marriage, friendship. Yesterday a friend told me it’s not about making it to first, second, third base or even home…it’s just about being in the game. I wish I had enjoyed more of my 20s instead of focusing so much on getting to the next base. Nikki

Exercising ain’t so bad after all! Sarah

At 22 I was at that lovely ‘in between’ stage in my life. I was starting back at college again doing something that I hoped that I would actually like this time. Seven years later I know I made the right move but back then I wish I knew: …your family is the backbone of your life …plans rarely work out and are not worth stressing out about when they deviate off course…be conscious of how much you spend…you are prettier than you think you are …drink more water – your body really needs it…friends will come and go out of your life…find a sport or activity that you love and stick with it…moisturize your legs…a bad diet will always catch up with you …start building up a rainy day fund – even just €20 a month will make a difference…never feel bitter that you loved someone and it didn’t work out…kiss lots of boys but keep your pants on unless you’re sure you really want to …go on more road trips…get offline and actually talk to people – social conversation is dying in the younger generations…don’t use sun beds Magatha May

What do you wish you’d known at 22?

29 Comments

 Amy

I wish I would have known that careers are not a guarantee for happiness. Our whole lives we are fed the idea that careers are the be all end all. Not so. Here I am at 25, completely disillusioned by the career I worked so hard for since I was 15. Now I just look back and wish I would have travelled more, loved more, and just lived in the moment more.

Reply
Rachael

I wish I had known about opportunities to temporarily live abroad before I would be tied to the States for insurance reasons.

Reply
Mandy

OMG, I totally agree about overpriced volunteering programs not being worth it (you should NEVER EVER have to pay a ton of money to volunteer your time…no matter HOW cool the program seems), and that exercise isn't that bad.

I'd throw in that you should spend time with friends instead of being lazy whenever possible. In a few years, those friends or you will probably move away/have a family/get busy in some other way, and you won't have as much time to just hang out anymore.

Reply
Jessica

I'd toss in that you can come into illness, inury or other disasters along the road of life. Remember that it's not your fault, you have to do the best with it.

Reply
Sarah Rooftops

That it's not a competition to see who can succeed first – just because somebody else was a published author at 23 didn't mean I had to be. Also, that being a novelist is not the only worthwhile, rewarding way of being paid for creativity.

Also, that no boyfriend is ever a girl's *last* chance of happiness and that trying to prove that you're sexy and mature is neither satisfying nor impressive.

Reply
Baylee

I love this. I'm only 24 but already such a difference from 22. I wish I would have known NOT to get married so young and to know I had options.

Reply
LBTEPA

If you're putting on weight and always tired, get a blood test. It might be your diet/drinking/exercise habits but it might be your iron or thyroid (I didn't get mine checked until I was 30 and suddenly I had more energy than I could ever remember). Also, don't marry the first guy you go out with when you come back from living overseas!

Reply
Anonymous

That good grades, hard work, and strong worth ethic are all REALLY important.

Reply
Erin

I'm turning 22 in two months and graduating college in 3 weeks. For the first time in my life, I don't have a plan and I'm absolutely terrified. This post couldn't have come at a better time for me, and so many of the comments hit home. Thanks for the wise words!

Reply
Sally

Totally agree with the one about patience. And the one about laying off the Visa.
I'd also add: floss everyday, for real. And go to the dentist regularly even if you don't have dental insurance. Because a routine cleaning is going to cost a lot less than 4 root canals (even if you do have insurance by the time you need the root canals).

Reply
Selly

Inspiring post. I was 22 only two years ago but it seems like a life time away. I also may have been pretty stupid two years ago, I was all work work work and no fun and I let just about everyone trample all over me. If I could go back in time I'd like to tell myself just that. Thankfully I've learned that lesson now!!

Reply
PML Charlie

I wish I truly understood the words behind "Life is only limited by your own expectations."
I wish I had understood that all of the negations that were thrust at me were absolute rubbish and expressive of their fears and limitations and not my own.
I wish I had known then that the world was waiting for me to explore it and was bearing many gifts.

Reply
Ashley :o)

Thank you so much for this post! I just turned 22 last Wednesday and have been trying to make a list of 100 things I want to do before I turn 25…hopefully to not get as caught up in this rut. However, I know I already am and this post was a great reminder about LIFE and LIVING and less SCHOOL and WORK.

Question for you would be…I haven't reached 100 goals yet for my 100 before I'm 25. Anything you wish you would have done or anything you did you think I should do?

Reply
Udoka

I wish I knew that you don't have to be with someone just because he likes you. In fact, I wish I held that expectation for myself.

Reply
Kate

When i read "you dont need to rush marriage and kids" i thought that actually, you dont need to do marriage and kids AT ALL. You can skip it and do something way more interesting!

Reply
Hannah

Getting older doesn't necessarily mean 'growing up' in terms of boring old-fartiness :)

Also, being alone is not only not that scary, it's actually the best thing you can do for yourself sometimes.

Reply
Nikkiana

I wish I'd known at 22 that I should be out experiencing all life has to offer and not settling down and marrying the first man who asked.

Reply
Unknown

I'm 22 and just graduated college two days ago….this and the post-college survival kit could not come at a better time! thanks!

Reply
Advice to Little Me

Personally, I wish I would have taken AP classes in high school. Sure it's more work in high school, but the time and money saved from not taking the same classes in college is well worth it!

I'd like to invite everyone to check out a site dedicated to this very topic… Advice to Little Me.
http://www.advicetolittleme.com

Reply

Leave a comment