Advice I Would Give To My 20 Year Old Self

Ohh, I wish I could actually do this.

I have made a bunch of mistakes learned a bunch of lessons in my life that have merged me into the person I am today. Sure, it was necessary to go through these things in order to get to where I am now, but if I could magically retain all the knowledge and experience I have, without having to go through all the headaches of my past, that would be great.

If you’re reading this and you’re in your late teens or early twenties, please please please take this advice and run with it. You can be so much wiser than I was, so here we go:

Follow your heart

In my early twenties, my life was made out of my parents’ dreams of what would constitute a perfect career path for me. I never really liked to study in finance or information systems (my two majors at McGill University), but I thought that these two things will solidify my future and also make my parents proud.

After graduating and working in the field for a couple of years, I realized that in spite of a prosperous financial future, I hated my days at the office. I was 25 years old and totally lost. That’s when I had to do a total 360 (the hardest time of my life), quit my job and actually think of what I wanted to do for a living. I wanted to feel passionate! I wanted to love what I was doing! And – thank you universe – eventually I got it. After a few not-so-successful business ventures, I finally found something that was close to my heart – writing.

If you don’t want to waste as much time as I did, do yourself a favour and figure out what you want to do in life before applying for a college degree. Don’t listen to anyone but yourself.

Stop dating the wrong guys

Ohhh, I wish I could have a long ass meeting with my younger self in this department. I was so lost in my life that one of my distraction methods was to have someone by my side. It made my life seem more meaningful. I truly wish I could just erase all of my failed attempts at “love.”

Looking back, I realize that there were so many problems with my way of thinking. I remember having multiple discussions with people about love and how I was never 100% satisfied with my previous partners. They were all saying this, “It will never be perfect, it’s normal to have problems. You have to settle for someone who is ‘good enough.’ Prince Charming doesn’t exist.” And I was following this advice for a while, until I realized that I wasn’t happy at all and that I would rather be single than be with someone who’s just “good enough.” That’s when I met my real life Prince Charming, my husband Dave.

Don’t listen to anyone who says that fairy tails don’t exist, they do if you believe in them. Also, stop dating people you’re not head over heels crazy in love with, because it’s a total waste of your and their time.

Find out who you are

I didn’t know who I was at all until about two years ago, when I decided to turn my life around, which really sucks because my life before the big change was pretty much a series of events completely out of my control. I was like a useless amoeba just floating through time.

Figure yourself out before anything else – your likes, dislikes, passions, secrets, everything! That way you won’t have to spend time with useless people, do things you don’t want to do and, ultimately, live a life that’s not designed for and by you.

Spend time with your family

Here’s another mistake lesson I wish I realized sooner. Back in my early twenties, I was so preoccupied with my social life, I barely spent any time with my family. I failed to understand that the only real support system in my life was my family and not those ‘super fun’ and stylish people I partied with.

Honestly, there isn’t one party that I can look back to now and say, “Man, this was a great party! Unforgettable!” They all feel the same. But I can definitely look back to the time spent with my family, sitting around the table, eating delicious food and cracking jokes – those are the real memories that I will forever treasure.

Be a good friend

I often analyze my 20 year old self and realize how shitty of a friend I was. True friendship requires total vulnerability of both parties, when you open up to each other completely, having no fear of being judged or perceived as weak. I always wanted to look tough. As a result, I never opened up to anyone and, consequently, never really formed any meaningful connections.

My friendships were very superficial and mostly based on “having fun” together. I never shared any of my struggles with anyone, so I can’t say that my friends know the “real me.” None of them have truly opened up to me either, because you get what you give.

I now realize that meaningful relationships require work. Don’t be lazy, work on your friendships, take them beyond the “let’s hang out” level if you want to have something real in your life. I’m still working on this myself…

Stop wanting to become rich

Oh Lordy, I remember when my dreams consisted of driving a nice car and living in a two-story Downtown condo. I guess I watched too many rap videos as a teenager. I got all these things and more, yet the feeling of emptiness didn’t go anywhere.

I know plenty of rich people, none of them seem authentically happy to me. This paradox of life is so fascinating. The happiest people are couples who have just enough money to live comfortably, at least from my experience. They are happy in their lovey-dovey world and don’t need much except for each other. Notice, I said “couples,” because I have never met a happy single person.

As long as your needs are met and you’re with the right person, you’ll be good.


I know it’s fashionable right now, everyone is doing yoga and meditation. If only I was advanced enough to be interested in this in my late teens, it would have changed my life completely. But nope, my interests revolved around looking good on the outside, not on the inside.

It’s so important to become the master of your own mind. Law of attraction is a real thing and the only way to attract the right things is through your own positive thoughts. I am convinced that our minds have super powers, we just don’t know how to use them properly because we’re too busy uploading new softwares on our smartphones.

What I want to say is this – skip your Friday night drinks, light some candles and practice meditation.

Parties are useless

Night clubs, bars and parties shift your focus away from what really matters in life. Not to mention all the shitty things that are linked to alcohol consumption. It’s just one big mess that I wish I could’ve told my 20-something year old self to stay away from.

Be patient

Patience was never my virtue. If I could turn back time, I would totally tell myself to take a chill pill. I was looking for easy ways out everywhere. If I wanted to get in shape, I was expecting it to happen overnight. If I started a business, I wanted it to become successful immediately. I’ve jumped into so many projects that I later abandoned just because I wasn’t patient enough to see them blossom. Ugh, younger Irina was a special case…

Nothing worth having comes easy. So just be patient.

You will meet your soulmate soon, so relax

I remember totally freaking out about never finding “the one.” I was so afraid that my perfect man didn’t exist, I was actually convincing myself that I might end up as a weird cat lady one day. My fears were 100% reasonable though. I wanted him to be so many things – tall, handsome, ambitious, generous, kind, tough, yet gentle, caring, yet strong, patient, spontaneous, easy going, but who doesn’t mind routine, but loves to travel and doesn’t cheat and is totally obsessed with me and is funny and wants to give me all of his attention and loves me like Noah loves Ally in the Notebook…

I can see how this seemed somewhat unrealistic to the 25 year old Irina who decided to take control of her life once and for all and figure out the kind of man she really wanted to have by her side. I wish I could just tap myself on the shoulder and be like, “Pssst! Your soulmate exists, you’ll meet him soon, he’s all of these things! I know you can’t wait to see him, so here’s his Facebook name – you can stalk him in the meantime.” That would have been so awesome!

Main photo cred – weheartit

1 Comment

  1. Marie says: Reply

    Good advice. I agree out of experience.

leave a reply