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  • Catherine Kirner, MS, LPC-IT

From Woman to Woman: Advice to My 25-year-old Self

As I slowly inch closer to turning 50, I find myself reflecting on my life journey. While I'm not doing cartwheels at the thought of turning 50, I’m not nearly as traumatized as I was when I turned 40... I'm aware there may be new physical challenges ahead, AND I'm lucky enough to write my own narrative of what 50 looks like for me. By accepting who I've become, I realize my sense of peace comes from gained knowledge, having an open-mind, and experiencing my own life encounters.

Although I wouldn't have listened if someone had shared this knowledge with my younger self (I'm a stubborn and head-strong Capricorn, after all), here are a few things I wish I would've been aware of in my 20’s:

Stop thinking everything is about you.

I'm still guilty of jumping to conclusions and making assumptions that are completely inaccurate. AKA, personalizing things that aren't about me at all. I work daily on considering another viewpoint instead of thinking only about how I'm being affected by someone else’s choice. Instead of thinking the jerk driving under the speed limit in front of me doesn't know how to drive, I think instead maybe they are lost or maybe just heard they have terminal cancer. Just this simple act resets my brain to consider what someone else might be experiencing in their life and transforms my anger into empathy. This is hard to do and takes vigilance, but I find that I'm kinder and gentler in my thoughts and actions with this simple change.

Focus on growing yourself.

I thought having a high-paying and successful job would give me stability and prestige, and finding a husband who was smart, funny, and also successful would fulfill all my childhood dreams. I was too worried about if I was wearing the perfect outfit or saying the right thing to catch the cute guy’s attention in the corner. I was so focused on being what I thought someone would want, I agreed with their suggestions instead of voicing my own opinions on where to eat, what music to listen to, and what movie we should go see. I didn’t realize I

needed to invest time and effort into discovering what I enjoyed and what made me feel good about myself.

Find friends different than you.

I surrounded myself with friends just like me who had similar values and goals as I did. I feel like I missed out on meeting some amazing people because I narrowed down my acceptable group of friends. They were safe and we could all relate to one another. How... boring. I should have trusted myself enough to hang out with a variety of people who would share their culture while also challenging me to be aware of perspectives different than mine.

Immerse yourself in your community.

Straight out of college I moved to a town where I knew no one. I recall several weekends alone in my apartment and only venturing out when necessary to buy groceries. I wish I would have gone to the museums, taken more bike rides, attended local festivals, volunteered at a local food pantry, and got myself out there where I would have had more opportunities to interact with others. I had this perception that people were looking at me and would notice if I was alone. Once again, I was caught up in thinking it was all about me instead of thinking about what I had to offer.

The thought of talking to complete strangers terrified me. Even today when I find myself tongue tied, I fall back on asking about that person, which usually helps open up and ease the conversation. The thing is, over the years, I realized that I crave human connection and when anyone engages me in conversation, I feel better. So, I try to make eye contact and smile when I pass a stranger and ask the bagger how their day is going.

I am a believer in the saying that age is just a number. At any age, you have the ability to change and grow into whoever you want to be.

All the best,


P.S. Here's some more advice from other women:


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[This article does not create a client-counselor relationship. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information.]

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