What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

By Jaime Collins, Director of Marketing and Communications

“I wish I knew then what I know now,” is something all adults say or think some time in our lives.

People, it seems, never have a shortage of advice to give. Much of it may even be good advice. More and more, however, I am finally learning to close my mouth, hold onto that advice, and listen to others. After all, there’s far more to gain from listening (and really hearing others) than from talking.

And that bit of wisdom brings me to a group of people I know with a vast store of life wisdom – members of our local Young At Heart club, a free local group that connects people 50 plus with healthy ideas and with their community. Meeting and talking with its members at our social events each month is always an enriching experience for me. I learn from these fine people, and I know firsthand that collectively, they are the keepers of tremendous wisdom. They are guardians of life knowledge the rest of us can benefit from if we’d only take time to listen.

So recently, I asked our Young At Heart members one simple question – What advice would you give your 20-year-old self? Here are their answers:

  • Don’t limit yourself to what you’ve always done/been. There’s a whole world of possibility. ~Liz W.
  • Be yourself, and try new things. Be kind.
  • Take time to meditate, walk among the trees, and build quality friendships.
  • Exercise. Develop skills.
  • Work hard, but take time to make friends and have fun. Be open to new things.
  • Don’t get married yet. Wait!
  • Do not be bossy. Go with the flow. Talk to everyone. Speak to people, even if just for a hello. Be yourself. Help others.
  • Work hard. Play hard. Be fair and truthful.
  • Be happy. Respect yourself and others.
  • Take care of yourself, mentally and physically. Take care of the vessel that will carry you through life. As you age, your health will determine your quality of life. And be kind! Always be kind. ~Lu Ann Bowman
  • Spend less time complaining about courses you think you will never use. Past experience has proven that courses I thought were a waste of time were very valuable over the years. Life puts you in places and experiences you never expected. Learn now and grow your knowledge as you grow older. ~Chuck Bowman
  • While you’re young, start setting money aside each month for savings / investments.
  • Do the best you can as a son/daughter, sibling, relative, friend, worker, volunteer, etc. Know that you did your best and then live without worry. You will grow, learn and change often. We all belong to the human race. Be open to all with kindness offered.
  • Choose a career / major that you will love. And do great things in the world. Reach for the stars!
  • Don’t be afraid of or swayed by peer pressure. Be true to yourself.
  • Stay focused.
  • You might not think so, but this is one of the best times in your life. Enjoy yourself, but also study hard and don’t do anything you may later regret.
  • Learn as much as you can in all fields. Explore and don’t be afraid to try new ideas.
  • Be in life what you would like to be! Don’t let anyone decide your future for you. In high school, a counselor told me that my science grades were not high enough to consider being a nurse, so I changed my focus. I wish to this day I had followed my heart.  ~Marilyn Abersold
  • Remember where you came from.
  • Education can open the world to you! Make the most of it.
  • Stay out of the bars. Make a schedule and keep to it. Respect your elders. They know from experience.
  • Be conscientious of your professional ambition and conduct yourself accordingly.
  • Your attitude determines your direction.
  • Be with someone who knows all they have when they’re with you.
  • Follow your heart, but use your brain, too.
  • Advice to my 20 year old self: After you graduate from university take a few years off before you plunge into a professional career, graduate school or house payments.  Instead travel, live abroad, volunteer in underdeveloped countries, join the Peace Corps, etc. Stretch beyond your comfort zone to learn more about various cultures and our world.  Graduate School and professional opportunities will always be there. ~ Carol Sue Butts
  • “Don’t be quick to judge others; take time to get all the info you can before making any judgement of others.”  ~Charles Clark
  • My advice is simple. Live simply. Love generously. And give yourself away to all in need.


Indeed, the older folks in our communities, regardless of their backgrounds, have weathered storms and seen and learned a great deal in life. We all have much to learn from others in our lives, especially those who have perspective that results from living history, experiencing the world, and learning life’s lessons through the decades. I encourage all of us to listen carefully to the people around us. You just may find the piece of wisdom you need to help you in a difficult moment.

Note: I’ve included names only when express consent to cite names was given.






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