You know how, when you’re sixteen, you will run a mile away when someone brings out photos of you at six? Of course—we all do. You’d like to think that mortified embarrassment at the previous you went away with time. That at 26, or 36, we’d smile at the six-year-old and raise our eyebrows at the 16-year-old. The truth is, that feeling apparently never leaves us.
Yes, guess what? Your 26-year-old self will judge the 16-year-old. And your 36-year-old self will judge the 26-year-old for judging them. The truth is, when we are young, we make mistakes. And then we feel embarrassed about it, and that’s a mistake too. Because that old line about learning from your mistakes? It’s true. So, by all means, get embarrassed—because it’s a natural human emotion—but don’t wallow in it. Learn. It’s all you can do.
Mistake #1: Thinking Old Sayings Aren’t Based In Fact
How many times have you heard the saying “It’s better to give than to receive”? And how many times have you raised your eyebrows and thought, “Great, sounds like no presents for me, then.” As it turns out, this old saying has a lot of basis in fact. Studies have found that people who give to charity are likely to be happier than those who don’t. Also, that little surge of satisfaction when you put a lot of thought into a gift and someone’s happy with it is actually good for you.
Many other old sayings that you may deride as folksy conversation fillers can turn out to be true. So give them some thought—they may be of benefit to you one day.
Mistake #2: Under (or Over) Estimating The Amount Of Sleep You Need
When you’re younger, things like the TV schedule and nightlife are more attractive than an early night. Sleep is for older people who’ve forgotten how to have fun, right? But when you have the alarm set for 8am, pulling home in a taxi just before 4am is going to catch up to you. Usually at around midday, you suddenly feel like you could sleep for a day.
But you shouldn’t, ever, sleep for a day. If you work on the theory that six hours’ sleep is good for you, so twelve hours must be twice as good, you’ll soon find out that’s not the case. You’ll be more prone to headaches (which you now can’t sleep off!) and also to mental health issues. Find the middle ground and stick to it.
Mistake #3: Not Looking After Your Teeth
You know how we have baby teeth, and then adult teeth? One tooth falling out to be replaced by another lulls us into a false sense of security. Easy come, easy go, right? And so when people tell us to take care of our teeth, we wave our hand and carry on eating fudge. Big mistake!
If you don’t keep up a tooth-cleaning routine, then you risk all sorts of problems that aren’t so easily fixed. Weakening the enamel, risking gum infections, and general wear and tear can come back to haunt us. And not way off in the future—now! So keep that in mind. And if the damage is partly done, and you break a tooth, just know that there’s help at hand. It only takes a second to run an online search and find a website that will help you find a dentist at short notice.
Mistake #4: Picking The Wrong Friends or Partners
Whatever age you are—from at least your early teens onward—you can probably look back and realize this mistake. Someone can seem like the best person in the world to you. You like all the same things. They’re funny. Charming. Possibly, they’re quite easy on the eye, too. It’s a dynamite combination. And like dynamite, if you aren’t careful it can blow up in your face.
The truth of the matter is, while you’re sitting there asking how you could be so stupid, it’s not your fault. Some people can be very skilled at manipulation. If they’re witty or attractive—or both—then they can get around most people’s defenses. They don’t walk up to you the first time they see you and drain your bank account. You trust them. Although you made a mistake, you shouldn’t stop believing. But as you get older, remember trust is earned.
You may find yourself, as you get a bit older, looking at people who are making the same mistakes. You may ask yourself, “Why are young people so stupid?” The truth is, we aren’t. We make mistakes because we haven’t had the experience from which we learn. That makes us human, not stupid. So go easy on your past self, and instead of wallowing in your mistakes, take the opportunity to learn from them.