What are the things you would tell to your 10 years younger self?
Let's take a break from everything about hypothalamic amenorrhea and talk about mindset a bit.
The other day at the gym, I told to one of my fellow trainers that sometimes I wish I had started doing some of the things that I'm doing now, much earlier. His response was that well, had you done these things earlier, you wouldn't be where you are right now.
He's absolutely right. But when I look back ten years, there are some things I would tell to my younger self (even though I can't guarantee that I would have listened, ha!).
Here they are:
Choose a Career that Is Right For You
I was very athletic and active in high school and absolutely loved track and field, basketball and many other sports. However, getting a degree in exercise science or something similar was never an option for me, because for some reason I thought that exercise can be a fun hobby, but it couldn't be my job.
It wasn't until about 8 years later that I became a personal trainer…
I guess I thought the only thing you could do with this degree or training is to become a high school P.E teacher. There's nothing wrong with being a high school P.E teacher; I absolutely loved my teacher and I respect all teachers for doing this hard job. But as a young person right out of high school, teacher's job didn't seem the most exciting. I also knew that I probably don't have enough patience to put up with kids.
So I went to study linguistics for 10 years and finally got my PhD in it. What I studied was okay at first, but it felt more and more wrong year after year. Why did I keep going then?
I had no trust in myself. I had a great supervisor who wished me the best, and I really respected and looked up to him. He was very successful in his field and very supportive, and I trusted him more than I trusted myself. I thought that one day I will learn to like what I was doing more, but it never happened.
If you've never had deep passion for something (or someone!), you will likely never grow to have it.
Listen to you heart when you're making career choices. Is what you're doing really the right thing for you? Are you doing it because you want it, or because you want to meet someone else's expectations?
Quit Relationships That Aren't Working
I'm really lucky to have extremely great friends that I can count on 100%. Even now as most of them are thousands of miles away, I know I can call them anytime.
When it comes to romantic relationships… I knew deep inside that certain relationships weren't right for me, but I didn't know what to do about it. Again, it comes down to lack of trust: I didn't trust myself in relationships, just like I didn't trust myself in choosing my first career path. I wanted someone else to make decisions for me.
If you know that you have to leave, then the longer you wait, the harder it gets. You're not doing anyone a service by “waiting for a better moment”. There's never a good moment.
Don't Workout That Much
Over training and its consequences have become the focus of this blog, so you probably expected that to come up.
The amount of training, especially running that I did when I was in my early 20s (and the next 6-7 years) was insane. I ran like my life depended on it. I made many mistakes related to running.
If you've been reading this blog for some time, you already know what happened. To put it simply: I was in a huge calorie deficit due to running a lot and not eating enough (because I wanted to be skinny), so I developed some disordered eating habits that took 6-7 years from my life.
Hypothalamic amenorrhea was another “side effect” of training so much. There are smaller “side effects” too, but these two are the more serious, long-term results of excessive training.
Travel and Do More Crazy Stuff
For the most of my life, I've loved security and safety, and it wasn't until about 4 years ago when I started to push myself outside of my comfort zone a bit more.
For example, I took the chance to study 11 months in the US, in a place where I didn't know anyone. I was scared as hell that people think that I'm a weirdo and that my English is horrible and and that I'll end up crying in my room for the entire time…
Well, it didn't happen. It ended up being one of the best decisions in my life.
But up until then, I had played pretty safe in all areas in my life – differently from my friends. One of them took a last minute teaching opportunity in Italy. The other one spent a year as a exchange student in Spain. Another one learned German by babysitting kids in Munich.
I did some of these things… sort of, but I always stayed as close to home as possible. I studied several years in Finland, but it was still very conveniently close to Estonia, so I could go back when I really wanted. I traveled a lot for work related conferences, but traveling for a week or two 6 times a year is not the same thing as actually living somewhere for months or years.
Putting yourself in difficult, unexpected situations will teach you the most useful lessons in your life–things that no degree will give you. Do more stuff that pushes you outside of your comfort zone!
Connect With People
I'm still struggling with this! When someone tells me she's an introvert, I often think: Okay, you clearly haven't seen an introvert. I totally trump you in this.
Talking to people has never been easy for me, but it's getting easier. I can meet amazing people, hear their stories, relate to them, and make deeper connections with some of them.
It can be hard though! There are times when I don't know what to say. Silence is awkward. I feel the need to fill it with something, but I'm unsure of what to say.
But, talking to people is like anything else – the more you practice, the better you get. The better you get, the more you want to do it, because you get curious: What's this person like? What's her story like? You shift your focus from panicking about what to say next to actually listening (Ideally. As I said, I'm still working on it). As you listen to other peoples stories and share yours, your life gets fuller and more interesting.
For me, the way I actually got interested in people was that I finally started hanging out with people with whom I share similar interests. Of course, we're not same in every possible way, but I think that it's useful to have a few very similar interests or ways you see the world, in order to connect.
In he past, I tried hard to talk to people at all the conferences I went to, but… I almost never felt comfortable, because I felt like I didn't know as much as I thought I should have known, and most importantly, I actually wasn't passionate about that topic.
These are the things I would have told my ten years younger me, to help me figure out my life a little easier… But it's absolutely true that without these experiences, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing and know what I'm knowing now.
Your turn: Share one thing you would tell your 10 years younger self!
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