Looking back at how I have changed since I was twenty-two years old has made me realise there was so much I didn’t have to worry about, and maybe things that I should have worried about. This blog answers the questions that twenty-year-old me would have asked my future self, now I am a little wiser.
Have all your dreams come true?
I thought I was going to be working for the EU at this point in my life, or be a film director. Just thinking about that now makes me want to burst out laughing – knowing how my interests have evolved and developed over the last twenty years, I ask myself “What was I thinking?”
I always think of the of the saying, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I am not particularly religious but, it hits home. When I was in my twenties, I had no idea how I would grow and change as a person, and that my values and dreams were not static. I have done so many things that were not in my plans; teaching, living in Italy, living and working in China, learning to play the guitar, fencing, doing tai-chi and blogging. In fact, it has been more than I had planned!
What can you tell me about my plans?
You may not be who you think you are; people change with age and experience. The views and the opinions you think you hold dearly will be challenged in the coming years. You will take an interest in things you swore you would never be interested in. It is best you are flexible about the plans you have, and remember, you do not have to be supremely confident to reach your goals, just supremely courageous. On your journey, try not to focus too much on the destination, but try to celebrate where you are as well – you are always doing a lot better than you think.
Even those moments when you are temping in an office bored out of your skull, covering someone’s Christmas holiday and thinking, “oh my goodness, I have a degree, and this is what it has come to?” You are doing the best with the experience you have at this point. Just accept that sometimes we do not always need to know what is unfolding.
It’s a waste of time comparing yourself to other people, not only is it exhausting, but it is an easy downward spiral towards giving up. And, something called social media will always make it look as if others are always having a better time than you…they probably are…so what! You never know who is looking at you and thinking that you have it all, just do your thing.
Will I still have the same friends?
People will come and go in your life; new friends, new colleagues – some may stay for a few years, and some for longer than you would have expected. You will learn more about yourself and your values when you are faced with “challenging” people who push your buttons, and they will be your biggest teachers.
The more curious you are about learning new things, the wider your circle of friends become, this will give you a larger perspective on life and attitudes, and you will have much more to talk about!
What are the biggest lessons I may have to learn?
Some of the greatest lessons that you may have to learn and keep learning is that nobody is responsible for your happiness. It is a tough lesson to swallow, but a good one nonetheless. Also, try and be grateful for what is good in your life – even the simplest things. It will not be easy, especially when you are in situations where you may not like your job, or you are in debt or even unemployed for a long period of time.
In addition, dreams can be reached in many ways. I/you always wanted to be a writer. I thought because I had not written the novel I had been planning for years in my head, I was not a writer. But, here we are writing. An openness to new ways of doing things will make your quest for what you may have planned a more tolerable and interesting journey.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Teach English, travel and work abroad with EF English First
Post by Yolande Deane, EF English First Harbin
I arrived in China from London in 2012 and I have been working at EF Harbin for more than two years. Harbin is in the most north-eastern province in China, and despite the long cold winters I enjoy living in this part of China. I love learning Chinese, doing yoga, going to the gym, eating out, playing the guitar and blogging about my observations and experiences.
Click here to learn more about Yolande