One of the advantages of reaching our 60s is that we're (hopefully) so much wiser than we used to be! Isn't it amazing how much our lives have changed and evolved? As we get older we often realize that some things that used to be important to us no longer are so terribly significant. Certain dreams and priorities and relationships fall by the wayside - and yet we also have the good fortune to discover new passions in life, adventures to pursue, new people to share with and experiences to enjoy.
I recently reached out to our Sixty and Me community and asked them, "If you could travel back in time and give one piece of advice to your 18 year old self, what would it be?"
The results were enlightening and inspiring!
Here are some of women over 60s best advice to their 18-year-old selves:
Treasure your independence: Several of our readers gave advice centered on the importance of taking care of yourself first. For example, one person said "Think well of yourself so you will be happy alone." Many reminded their younger selves to put their needs first, even if it meant putting other relationships on hold.
Manage your own money: Many women over 60 value their financial independence more than ever before, especially if they've gone through a costly divorce or a marriage Several readers offered advice such as "have your own bank account" and "never be dependent on another person" for your financial security.
Finish your degree: One of the most inspiring things about being a woman over 60 is seeing how many opportunities our generation has created for younger women in the workplace. Much of the advice that readers gave to their younger selves focused on the importance of getting a good education. Many advocated delaying marriage until after school. When women get a better education, they tend to have better job opportunities and earn more money over the course of their lives - and better-educated women tend to have stronger marriages and better overall life prospects for themselves and for their children.
Stop to smell the roses: Women over 60 are known for our energy and active lifestyles, but we all need to step off the treadmill of life and refresh and renew ourselves from time to time. One woman offered this advice to her younger self: "Don't be in such a hurry!" Another reader reminded her younger self not to be a perfectionist and to remember to stop and smell the roses once in a while.
Be cautious in love: Many women in our community offered advice related to love and trust in relationships. Many warned their younger selves to use caution when choosing a partner, even if it meant taking longer to find the right person. It's interesting to see the changes that have happened in society's expectations for women during our lifetimes. When most women over 60 were in their early 20s, it was normal for young women to get married right out of high school or university. Today, women over 60 are more likely than ever before to be single - whether it's due to divorce or widowhood, or never having married. Perhaps the lesson here is that many women over 60 have found as much meaning in life from their friendships, careers and personal interests, as from romantic relationships? Or perhaps our perspectives have changed as we have gotten older, and we've seen the risks and pitfalls of marriage, as well as the rewards? It's a fascinating question that deserves more attention.
As for myself, the advice that I would offer to my 18-year-old self is as follows - and some of it echoes the advice that our community shared:
Get a great education, and don't get married or have children until you have lived on your own for a while. Being independent is so important, and a confident and self-aware mindset will serve you well throughout your life, no matter who you meet or what work you decide to explore.
Invest in property in your own name, and be sure to make enough money to support yourself. Save for your retirement - start now!
In your career, don't let fear stop you from trying new opportunities, and never think, "I can't do that because I'm a woman" - as you will discover, there are no limits to what is possible for you in life. Be a lifelong learner.
In your personal life and love life, trust your instincts - follow your heart, but always take your brain with you and choose your friends wisely. Enjoy the life you create - relax, spend your energy on things with lasting value, and let people know you love them.
Finally, be good to yourself. It is not selfish to put yourself first. Learn to say "no," and let other people handle their own problems. Stay physically active and avoid gaining weight - work out every day - not to please others or to maintain an image, but to stay connected with your own body and stay healthy in mind and spirit.
You have a beautiful life awaiting you, young Margaret! Enjoy it to the fullest.
What advice would you offer to your 18-year-old self? What are the most surprising lessons you've learned during your lifetime?