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What I'd tell my 18-year-old self now that I'm 28

On the last July 28th, I turned 28. Although it's not the big 30 milestone just yet, my idea of where I'd be at 28 when I was 18, was oh so different then what reality is. As much as I'd love to live by the famous phrase "I have no regrets", I think it's wiser to say I have tons of things I'd do differently in life. But I think that the choices I've made helped shape the person I am today and now that I turned 28, I can look back with pride to see how much I’ve grown and developed in a decade.

My 18 yo self was a really stressed girl who worried a lot about college and was too busy in a very very toxic relationship. Of course that reflected on my health and strangely enough (or not), I was always sick and exhausted. I think the key is to pay more attention to yourself. If I had listened to that little voice inside of me that was always telling me "hey, this is not right", maybe things would have been different and I probably wouldn't have waisted so much time on something so unhealthy. 

On another hand, being stuck on a really bad situation, made me uncomfortable which led me to want to get out of it really bad. That's why I moved out of my country to start fresh. That was when I started living. For those who know me it's not a secret how much I love Portugal and how much I think it's the best place in the world. That's also where I met my husband after only being there for two weeks! HAHA

I guess what I want to say is: Don't be afraid of changes. 

If I were to have a frank tête-à-tête with my 20 year old self, here’s what I’d tell her:

1. If you're unhappy about something in your life, give it a chance. Some things are worth a try and even a good fight. But it's also important to know when to stop trying. The key here is to not let it get to a really bad point of no return, insisting on something bad can be very damaging. Listen to yourself, you'll know what to do. 

2. Always be kind and loving to others. Good morning, thank you and a nice big smile are so important and can really make a difference on someone's day. 

3. Love and be gentle to yourself. You're going to spend a long time in this body, treat yourself kindly. If you're unhappy about your weight, eat healthier and exercise, but don't put yourself down or get carried away by what is dictated by the beauty industry. There are so many different types of beauty and everyone is unique. 

4. Take care of your skin. Invest in good products, do facials, get that botox if you want and USE SUNSCREEN PROTECTOR!!!!

5. This one is something my dad would tell me my whole life. Compete with your intelligence and kindness, not with your looks. If you spend a lifetime receiving validation on the superficial, once gravity kicks in (and make no mistake, one way or another, it will kick in) and your looks fade, you will need to find a more sustainable way of feeling empowered. Start working on the qualities that last.

6. Parenting doesn't come with a manual of instructions. Remember, your parents tried the best they knew how. Forgive them.

7. Buying shoes too small with the hope that they will stretch out is a bad idea. Buying shoes too big thinking you can add some sort of cotton to fill in the space is also a bad idea. 

8. Learn how to express yourself without saying bad words or getting too emotional. You can say the same thing in two different ways and different voice tones, sometimes people pay even more attention to someone who's speaking in a low voice as opposed to someone who's shouting. No matter how much it hurts, how unfair it feels or how hard you are struck down, always handle yourself with grace and dignity. That’s the only thing nobody can ever take away from you.

Have enough money saved, you will need it in the future.

9. Go on vacation and DO NOT STRESS ABOUT ANYTHING. Turn your phone off and learn to live in the moment. But most importantly, as Kanye says, "How you're gonna be mad on vacation?", you're there to relax. 

Yandra Vitorio

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