Podcast 30: Special Guest! My Daughter Eliza, Who Asks: Any Advice for a 16-Year-Old?

It’s time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

This is the 30th episode, and every tenth episode we have a Very Special Episode where we do something a little different. Remember episode 10, when I cleaned Elizabeth’s closet?

This Very Special Episode: a very special guest, my sixteen-year-old daughter, Eliza! Yowza.

Update: People sent us great one-word themes for the year: Acceptance, Imperfect, Healthier, Authenticity, Moving. (If you want to read more about this try-this-at-home, I write about it in Happier at Home.)

Try This at Home: Eliza suggests, “Give yourself a mission when you have free time.” Eliza wants to feel like she’s used her precious free time to do something worthwhile. (Poor thing, school started again last week, so she doesn’t have much free time anymore.) Bonus try-this-at-home: “Stalk yourself on Facebook.”

Elizabeth and I interview Eliza. Her phrase for junior year is “Stay afloat.” She talks about how she (and teenagers generally) use social media and photographs. Her happiness stumbling block: college and the future. Some of her favorite podcasts: Comedy Bang Bang, How Did This Get Made?, The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project, Old Time Radio Mystery Theater,  and of course… Happier with Gretchen Rubin! Awwww.

podcastElizaHeadphonesListener Questioner: Instead of answering a listener question, Eliza poses a question for listeners, “What’s your advice for a sixteen-year-old? Do you wish you could go back to your teenage years?

Eliza’s Demerit: She tends to purchase too many facial products. Much like Elizabeth!

Eliza’s Gold Star: She gives a gold star to everyone who helped convince us to get a dog — which includes many listeners — and even gives a special gold star to me, especially, for be willing to get a dog. She mentions the video Puppy Party.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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We love hearing from listeners

Tell us — Do you have any advice on Eliza’s question, “What advice would you give to your sixteen-year-old self?” — so she can get the benefit of it, as a sixteen-year-old. Also, do you like to give yourself a mission, when you have free time?

There’s lots of ways to share your responses or questions:


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Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen toHappier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

HAPPIER listening!

  • I listened to this episode this morning and then wrote about it on my blog: http://bethsblatherings.blogspot.com/2015/09/what-advice-would-you-give-teenager.html

  • Laurel Douglas

    I am a high school teacher, and I have to say I was very impressed with Eliza’s maturity! Eliza–this is the BEST time of your life! My advice is to NOT WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING! Life is your oyster, you have so much ahead of you. Cultivate the tools you need to enjoy life now–mindfulness, gratitude and intention. You already are! Thanks for being an inspiration! Oh, my one-word theme for this year is Lightness, which is difficult to maintain as a teacher! Wish me luck 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the advice!

  • s_ifat

    Eliza was so so sweet, I loved listening to her. My advice-try and let go of the ‘float’ state of mind. ‘Floating’ to me sounds a lot like your mom’s ‘drifting’. Focus on doing what you love. Get a new perspective by volunteering- you can take your new puppy to an old nursing home and let the elderly pet and enjoy the puppy (I do it in my country) and it’s a real joy for me, takes me out of my daily thoughts and routines. And my last advice- throw away most of your cosmetics, your young skin really does not need it. My secret skin care is drinking a glass of carrot juice right before I go to bed, try it for a week, you’ll be amazed by the result.

  • Leah

    What a treat to have your daughter on the podcast today. Between this podcast and my recent 10 year high school reunion, I’ve been thinking a lot about my high school life, and all the pressure I put on myself to determine what I would become and if I was “doing it right” in life.
    Let me tell you this, dear Eliza–you can make no mistakes in your life right now (aside from getting pregnant or jailed, which I feel certain are out of the question). With that in mind, here are my lessons–take risks, travel, take a chance on your dreams, engage in experiences that contribute to type person you want to become (hat tip to Meg Jay and her concept of “identity capital”), laugh often, talk to as many different type of people as you can and when you meet people ASK questions and LISTEN more than you talk.
    There is no part of me that ever, ever wants to go back to being a high schooler. Life is so much richer, more textured, and more fulfilling in my late-twenties than it ever could have been as a teenager. The best is truly yet to come.

    • gretchenrubin

      Excellent —

  • Eliza: NOTHING I had planned for college turned out the way I thought it would, but it turned out okay! If you don’t have to worry about paying for college all by yourself, you’re ahead of the game (even if you don’t feel that way at your high school right now or at your particular college later). I would tell my past self to do what you’re doing: stay afloat. My teenage self did the best she could, but she didn’t have the environment or tools to know how to care for herself. I gained that through A LOT of hard work (and therapy) in my twenties. I’m 30 years old, married, with a job and a dog and HAPPY!! I would not go back to anything younger than 25 years old for a million dollars. I’m a questioner and it was hard for me to be in a world of other people’s expectations (even if “other people” is just society at large). High school (and college) were NOT the best times of my life. I hope they will be wonderful, wonderful for you, but if they are not, have no fear! There are good times ahead, if you’re willing to prioritize your own well-being. 30 was the BEST YEAR EVER for me. My other advice is this: give yourself credit for 1) working to finish high school and 2) working toward going to college. Even if you don’t feel like you get the results you want, CELEBRATE and BE SO PROUD of your hard work!! The internship hustle and the job market can be competitive and rough, it’s sometimes who you know and not what you know, so you can’t always depend on results to feel a sense of accomplishment. Let the effort, the completion of tasks and the achievement of personal goals make you proud of yourself.

    • Also: thanks for asking that question, Eliza, because I’m really enjoying seeing everyone else’s advice, too!

      • gretchenrubin

        I agree. FASCINATING.

    • gretchenrubin

      So helpful, thanks for this perspective.

  • Alex

    Great episode!

    My advice for Eliza — embrace (and even chase) challenges! When I look back at my teenage years, I wish I had gone after more experiences which put me out of my comfort zone and pushed my limits. Learning how to struggle through a difficult task, whether it is learning a new concept, mastering a new skill, or just needing to put in sweat and persistence to accomplish a task, is in my opinion the most important thing to learn while still in high school (or any time really!). You will be able to draw on those experiences later in life (college, the work place, personal situations). Best of luck this year!

  • Courtney

    My first piece of advice for Eliza is to have a face-mask slumber party. Get all your friends to come over and have fun using up all the extra facial products you have. Then start fresh after the party by vowing on a one-in, one-out policy: no buying a new face mask until you’ve used the one you have. That way you get double the pleasure, because you know when you’re using the face mask that you’ll allow yourself to get another one soon!

    My teenage advice to Eliza is ‘do this for Future You.’ When I’m getting too neurotic about how my choices will affect my future, I try to remind myself that Future Me will be disappointed and regretful if I don’t make the most of enjoying the present. College Eliza will be so sad if her dominant memories of high school are of stressing about college, and Post-Grad Eliza will have missed out if she didn’t live college life to the fullest. It’s not always easy, but I feel good knowing that Future Me can count on me to enjoy the present (is it obvious that I’m an Obliger?). It’s helpful to remember that adult life is also full of transitions– when you’re in college you worry about getting a job, when you leave college you worry about having the right job for you or finding the right partner, then you get a bit older and worry that you won’t have kids at the right time, then you worry that they won’t hit their transitions in the right ways, etc etc etc. You don’t want your life to be a series of toll booths; you want to enjoy the experiences along the way.

    Thanks for another great podcast! I loved hearing the very articulate and thoughtful Eliza’s take on happiness and habits.

    • gretchenrubin

      Love the face-mask slumber party!

      And great advice.

    • Victoria

      I love the idea that, as an Obliger, I can use “Future Me” as an accountability partner to keep me on track! My word of the year has been “Integrity” and I try and remind myself to act in accordance with my values, but as I’m not an Upholder it is easy to let myself off the hook. So maybe “Future Me” will be a useful person to keep in mind and keep me in line – very thought-provoking, thanks.

  • Eeksquire

    Not exactly advice, but maybe a helpful piece of anecdata: I too, was constantly worried during my high school years about College and The Future and then a great thing happened: sometime in the spring of my freshman year of college, I was walking around campus and the best feeling came over me. I was so happy there, that I literally could not believe that this was MY life. And the even better thing is that, from time to time, unpredictably, I get that same feeling – driving on my way to my first job, unloading IKEA packages to furnish my (very own!) office. Every time, I am grateful to be exactly where I am and – to answer your other question – as happy as I was at each of those moments, I wouldn’t want to go back to them, especially my teenaged years. Good luck with the new school year and try not to worry too much.

  • Mimi Gregor

    I would NOT go back to my high school years again for anything! I was a bit of an outsider — shy and geeky — and made few friends as a result. If I could give advice to PastMimi, I would tell her to lighten up. This, too, will pass, and high school — though it seems to last an eternity at the time — will actually end before you know it. I would tell her to spend some time on extracurricular activities that she cares about in order to make friends with like-minded people. I would tell her to read Oscar Wilde so that she could cultivate a sense of sarcasm rather than taking the negative things others say to heart. I would also tell her to stop taking the secretarial courses (which I took because I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I “grew up”, and was told that “you can always get a job if you know how to type”.) and take whatever courses sound like the most fun/interesting to take. I missed an opportunity to learn all sorts of things — for free! Instead, I took the business courses, and when I actually got an office job, I found that I HATED office work. If PastMimi had taken some art courses instead, she may have realized that she was more the creative type, and totally unsuited for office work. I wish that I had just taken a bunch of different courses in order to determine what I enjoyed doing, but I caved to my family’s pressure to take courses that would “lead to a well-paying job”.

  • I have one piece of advice for Eliza that was given to me when I was just a little older than she is now, and it relates to skin care. The idea that you need facial skin care products is a false idea sold to women to make them buy stuff they don’t need.

    But the thing is face care products aren’t just a waste of money–they make your skin look worse over time. In fact, you don’t need and should avoid washing your face with any cleansers at all. Stop washing your face! I am now 38 and have barely washed my face in 20 years. I use only mineral makeup that comes off with water and as a deep cleanser/moisturizer, I use jojoba oil.

    Eliza talked about the relaxing ritual of the face mask, but you can enjoy that with an “oil wash”, too. Massage jojoba or coconut oil into your skin and then use a wash cloth to clean your skin and the rinse. (Google “washing your face with oil” or “oil cleansing” to read all about this technique.) It feels amazing and your skin looks and feels incredibly soft and clean.

    All of those products–cleaners, toners, masks, treatments–strip the skin’s natural oil. Then, to compensate, the skin overproduces oil to make up for the fact that it’s been stripped. That’s when you find yourself breaking out. My break outs went completely away as soon I quit piling cleaners and chemicals on my skin.

    All of my friends in their late 30s and 40s ask me why my skin looks great and this is 100% the reason why. Eliza, protect your skin and prevent future wrinkles by junking all those products and sticking to water, mineral make up, and jojoba oil! I promise you will be glad you did when you are 38.

  • Berin Kinsman

    My advice for any age is to always think about who you want to be, and always be moving toward that idea. Think of life as a road trip; know where you are, know where you want to end up, plan how you’re going to get there, but remember to see the sights along the way.

  • Kim

    Hello everybody, my advice to Eliza would be: don’t doubt yourself and have confidence.
    I’m not familiar with going to college since I live in Belgium and we have a slightly different education system, but I remember my teenage years at the end of high scool and starting university to be full of self doubt, being unhappy with myself, wanting to be or look like somebody else…
    Looking back on it now, being in my early thirties, I realise that all this doubt was not necessary at all, and I could have saved myself a lot of worries if I had just had more confidence :). Life will show you the path to follow, and as long as you do what you like, and you like yourself, most of the time things will turn out just fine. My mindset is always focused on dealing with the ‘now’ and trying not to worry about the future (although I have to remind myself of this motto very regularly to not start worrying again).

    @Gretchen and @Elisabeth, love your podcasts, keep up the good work.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks – and thanks for the great advice.

  • Dee

    Wow. I really enjoyed this podcast episode. Eliza, you are so eloquent & expressed yourself so well on the podcast. Gretchen, you must be so very proud of Eliza. No advice from me, to be honest, high school was the most difficult time of my life. A lot of difficult things completely out of my control made it a challenging time of life. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this episode.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Good perspective to hear —

  • MaggieRose59

    I am with a number of people here who advise you to get rid of your cosmetics! What a waste of money (and time). Most so-called skin care products are NOT good for your skin! I wash with plain warm water twice a day and my skin looks better than it ever did when I was younger. Make-up is a habit. Once you get used to seeing yourself with it on you don’t think you look right with it off, while most women look best without it. If you already have the habit, then I would say follow this rule: If you can tell it’s make-up, you have too much on.
    Here is some (very old-fashioned) life advice: Your chastity is a most precious gift that in your entire life you will be able to give to only ONE person. The person who values it as he ought will not ask for it until it is rightfully his to have.

    • Gillian

      Wonderful advice on both fronts!! I completely agree.

    • Amit

      Man! Makes me feel shame. And wish now… I had… been there and NOT done that. Agree totally, Maggie.

      …Recollected this amazing video on YouTube by Margie Warrell (another amazing person)

      Afraid of Looking Bad? Stand for Doing Good, Not Looking Good.

      Most of her videos that I have seen have amazing wonderful powerful advice!

      Check them out.


  • Rachel Smith

    This was a great episode! My advice for Eliza: don’t overlook or belittle the things that are happening now.

    I had a great education from elementary school through college, but there was always a huge focus on “next year.” I remember it really starting in middle school (a lot of “we’re doing this now so you will excel in high school”) and then high school was entirely focused on getting into and preparing for college (our average class levels were called “college prep” courses, even as freshmen). While I truly appreciate the skills I learned and I find myself relying on them heavily in my daily professional life (after having gone to my top choice college), I wish the rhetoric had been more open-minded— the purpose of your life right now is not just to prepare you for the next milestone, it’s to be lived right now.

    I spent so much time thinking about my next steps that I always looked a year or so ahead without giving myself the space needed to appreciate the day-to-day or look at the bigger picture. Even now I reflexively belittle past achievements since I assume nothing is as important as what’s coming next. I don’t mean to say that all of your actions now have a huge impact later in life nor that you shouldn’t look ahead and work towards goals, I just wish I was better at appreciating the present and giving it proper attention and focus. It all “counts”!

  • Lindsay Walter

    My advice for Eliza is recognize that the fun now will be considered the “good times” or the “good old days” someday. I was given this advice when I was about her age and I have never forgotten it. There will be many times that are good, but enjoy right now, the fun, the goofy times with friends etc. . . Someday they will be happy memories, cherish them now.

    • Amit

      Bingo : ) The “good” becomes “old days” because we (and people) stop being… good / friendly… There’s stress due to “starry goals” / expectations of family and conflict due to competition / cross-ambitions of frenemies.

      Figure out a way of staying good / honest / friendly and finding + keeping good / honest / friendly humans and one may just have a lifetime of social happiness.

      – Amit.

  • Margaret

    I was so impressed with Eliza. I can’t take away the anxiety associated with college, but I can say that I am a college professor, and I would love to have such an articulate, thoughtful young woman in any of my classes. As far as the advice, I wish my younger self could have let go of the fear that the decisions I was making then were uniquely significant. Most people change radically in their 20s, and I am truly grateful for every “wrong” path I took. These mistakes have made me who I am and have helped me pursue a life I love without fear.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the kind words! Great advice.

  • I want to give Eliza some encouragement! I’m only 24, so I remember vividly the anxiety of my high school and college years. Although I really enjoyed high school and college, I’d still say to ignore those people who say these are the “best years of your life”–it’s not true! As an adult, I may have more responsibilities, but I also have more freedom, and I know better now who I am than I did during my awkward high school and early college years. So enjoy these years, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself; there are plenty of good years to come.

  • Jamie

    Hi Eliza! Wonderful episode. I know you didn’t ask for podcast recommendations, but when you said you liked Old Time Radio Mystery Theatre, I immediately thought of one of my favorite podcasts “Thrilling Adventure Hour.” It is a series of modern shows done live in the style of old time radio. My favorite segement they do is Beyond Belief, about two married mediums who live in a Park Avenue apartment. The entire podcast is hilarious, and it got me through a lot of long early morning commutes.

    • gretchenrubin

      Sounds TERRIFIC

  • Gillian

    How wonderful to be so articulate and self-assured at 16! Lots of good advice here.

    My advice – know thyself, be thyself. In Gretchen’s words – Be Eliza!

    I think the most important thing a young person can do is to develop a moral code. Spend some time thinking about what your core values are. How do you define your integrity?

    How will you treat others – family, friends, colleagues, strangers, those like you and those who are different?

    How will you treat the planet that sustains us – will you take as much as you can or will you try to take only your share and tread lightly on the earth?

    What do you consider right; what wrong? Do you do what is right and avoid what is wrong because of promise of reward or fear of punishment or just because you want to live a moral life?

    A strong moral code developed through personal contemplation will always stand you in good stead – especially when faced with an unexpected situation. How you respond will be guided by your core values. We all make mistakes from time to time and do something that we later regret and that causes us to be ashamed. But being ashamed is a sign of personal integrity and provides a learning moment – we can do better next time. Our philosophy isn’t cast in concrete; we grow and learn and our values can change but we have to think about these things and live with the moral rules we’ve made for ourselves.

    Don’t be guided by convention and what others do; make your own choices. Know yourself, be yourself, develop a strong moral code and you will be able to face most of the challenges life presents – in highschool, at college and throughout life. And you will always like what you see when you face a mirror.

    Best wishes for your future, Eliza. Savour every exciting moment of this time in your life.

    • gretchenrubin

      Very thought-provoking – thank you.

    • Amit

      Wow ! : )

  • Sandra Seidel

    Dear Eliza,
    It was a pleasure to hear you, your mom & your aunt today! Here are a few thoughts…
    FIRST congratulations on Barnaby!!! I was one who encouraged your mom & I’m so happy for your family. Barnaby is a dog & therefore he will love the ones who love & take care of him. So the more you love & take care of him the more he will love you! Have fun & if you need a dog sitter my daughter lives in Brooklyn & would love to help : )
    I wish for you three very important things – that you would show yourself grace & forgiveness for the mistakes you will make. AND that you would understand the importance of the things you do that someday you may be ashamed of. There were times when I didn’t treat myself with respect in relationships & that led to doing things I should not have. It is hard to explain but it’s something I would tell my younger self.
    When my first daughter was born I wanted to name her Eliza but my husband had dated an Eliza in college…. I think you have a beautiful name & I wish you happiness!
    Kind regards, Sandra

  • Teri1147

    Talking about enjoying pictures of the every day – have you heard of Chatbooks? Integrated with Instagram, prints small books of about 30 pages from your Instagram feed. It’s WONDERFUL! Check it out!

    • gretchenrubin

      Off to check it out right now!

  • Cath R.

    Eliza was so inspiring today – a joy to hear her. She sounds far wiser than I ever was at 16, but as far as advice goes I would say..to do as much as you can to get to know yourself, the you that you are in your quiet moments. This is the person who you can call on when you need strength or guidance, or the answers to your deeper questions. Do whatever you can to enrich that sense of self. Don’t be too tough on yourself either if you miss your expectations, mistakes can teach you a lot. I took some wrong roads in my youth, but it has I think made me a broader, more empathetic and aware person now than I might have been had I been only “perfect Cath”. Be wise with who you give out your time and energy to. Be kind, but aware. Honour your mind and body. And don’t forget to breathe 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Great suggestions!

  • Caro

    Trust yourself Eliza! Seems like you have good support around you. Enjoy the ride, the world needs young inspiration like you!

  • Tracy

    The best advice my mother ever gave me was “Make sure you can take care of yourself. Never depend on anyone else to take care of you”. Get a good education so wherever your path in life leads you will always feel secure in the knowledge that you will be ok.

  • Wendy

    Advice to my 16-year-old self (and Eliza :-))

    1. Relationships are key
    2. Lighten up
    3. Enjoy every stage of your life
    4. Have faith in yourself
    5. Recognize that parents have feelings, too
    6. Cherish your family
    7. Love as widely as you can
    8. Find what you love to do, and do it
    9. Be sincerely grateful, and express your gratitude
    10. Show your enthusiasm
    11. Be a blessing to other people
    12. Smile

    • Laura Sezonov

      What a great list of advice. I love it!

      • Wendy

        Thanks, Laura!

  • Helen

    There was points during listening to this podcast that i felt emotional listening to Eliza speak. What an articulate, thoughtful, intelligent and lovely young woman she sounds like.
    What struck me whilst listening to Eliza speak and reading the comments was how much pressure is put on teenagers to decide on a career path, find out who they are and think of the future etc. I am 34 and I am only now truly beginning to understand and know thyself! So whilst of course you need to think through your future carefully I would tell my 16 year old self that it is also ok to just hang out and not always get swept along in the pressure. Most adults still struggle with big decisions and it is hard being a young adult and thinking you need to have everything figured out. I loved university but even now i look back at being between 16 – 18 as incredibly stressful and pressured, so I think again i would tell my 16 year old self to acknowledge that it is tough and you are allowed to feel under pressure.
    It always sounds cliched but Life really is a varied journey and as long as you continue be thoughtful I don’t think you can go far wrong and i think what is wonderful about growing up is you begin to accept your limits whereas teenagers possibilities often feel limitless and that is overwhelming for anyone.
    I love this quote by Julian of Norwich
    All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

  • Danika

    I just wanted to share a piece of research I encountered awhile ago that supports Eliza’s advice to stalk yourself on Facebook–according to this study (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/2012/01/30/ncbi-rofl-mirror-mirror-on-my-facebook-wall-effects-of-exposure-to-facebook-on-self-esteem/#.Vf11LCBVikp) doing so can improve a person’s self-esteem. So keep stalking yourself on Facebook!

  • Kristin Darhower

    Be yourself! If I could tell myself anything at 16, it would be to be myself. Looking back (I’m 29), I realized I was doing things right, and maybe those who were “cool” were doing things not-so-right.
    Also, it gets sooooo much better 🙂 Being an adult, with all of its responsibilities, is much more fun than being a teenager. Your best years are definitely ahead of you.

  • Andrea

    Advice for a teenager- I wish I had been more independent rather than always feel like I had to have a boyfriend and follow him around wherever he went. Not the advice you probably want to hear but you need to be single in college.

  • Laura Sezonov

    Hi Gretchen,
    Great show as always and I especially loved Eliza’s presence; she is an intelligent, articulate, well spoken young lady, you have done well as a mother! My daughter’s name is also Eliza, she is almost 2 years old and it gives me great hope as a parent to see and hear that not all 16 years old are obnoxious, self absorbed, air-headed teens.
    Hang in there Eliza, the college years are so much better than high school! 🙂

  • Hannah Atkins

    I’m only 17, but I already wish that I had taken the time to slow down, and enjoy more of the little moments that are so important in making up our lives. Time is not going to slow down or speed up no matter what you do, the only thing you can change is how much you pay attention to and remember the things in between the big milestones.

    I understand how exciting it is to be growing up, getting ready to go to college maybe, getting into relationships (maybe?), and acquiring more independence in general. But time is going to go the same speed it always has, so we might as well take all we can for the present moment, because we will never be living in the future. We will always live in the present.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great advice.

  • Amy

    What a sweet episode! Eliza was a great addition, and she’s clearly listening to you. She was very insightful and helpful just like her mom and aunt.

  • Fabienne

    Really enjoyed this episode and I also think Eliza is adorable and seems very mature and eloquent compared to other 16 year olds! My little piece of advice… spend quality ‘normal’ time with your parents. I am 34 now, have spent pretty much all my twenties abroad and now live about 6 hours away from my family so don’t see them on a regular basis. I love the new, more grown-up relationship with my mum but I also love looking back at the everyday ‘quality moments’ with my mum when we were living together. Once you move out, you will (probably) never move back in (which is a good thing), which also means the day-to-day routine with your parents will stop and you will find a new rhythm. I have no doubt Eliza and Gretchen will master this amazingly, but while you’re still living at home, enjoy those everyday times together like doing the dishes, going for a walk etc.

  • SK

    I just loved this episode! Eliza sounds like such a smart girl, with a great head on her shoulders. My advice to Eliza is the following: Invest some money now! The power of compound interest is truly astounding and if you can start saving and investing as soon as you have any amount of money you will be thanking yourself in the future. And listen to money podcasts or read blogs like Mr. Money Mustache and So Money with Farnoosh Torabi for inspiration. I wish that I had known about the possibility of retiring in my 30’s when I was in high school. One more tip: enjoy high school. I hated being in high school, but now I wish that I had enjoyed it more. And love your body. I was never happy with my figure but now that I’m in my 30’s and look back at pictures of my young self I think “why didn’t I feel comfortable in a bathing suit?!!? I looked amazing!” So, best of luck to you Eliza and thanks for a fun episode.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the advice!

  • Katy Parker

    Hi Eliza! If I could go back ten years to advise my teen-aged self, I’d say…

    1. Spend quality, one-on-one time with your grandparents whenever you can.

    Learn about who they are as people through a more mature perspective. You’ll later find that the time you’ve spent with them contributes immensely to your sense of identity and personal history. When you’re in your twenties, you’ll want to draw on this sense of self as you push forward into the unknown.

    2. Document it all!

    Save your journals, notes from friends, birthday cards, etc. Take pictures of everyday things. (This was good advice given by your mom a few episodes back!)

    3. Don’t let romantic relationships become a top priority for at least several more years.

    There’s great value in nurturing a relationship with someone you love, but only if you’re still able to grow as your own person. Don’t give up opportunities (jobs, travel, etc.) for a boyfriend, don’t sacrifice your well-being or health, and don’t skip class. This is the time for you to become YOU, and what you do for yourself in these years will carry you forward for years to come. Be brave enough to let romantic love enter and exit your life as you go about writing your own amazing story.

  • Margie Kimker Kohl

    I wish I had asked both my parents and my grandparents more information about their childhood and our genealogy. By the time you really want to know, it may be too late, so get a book of questions and have them write in it, or video them answering the questions.
    Also–ask yourself–will this matter in 5 years? If it won’t, then try not to give it too much worry.

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  • Amit

    the subjects of food, fitness, friendliness, freedom from
    disease, and finances, top priority for these 5 truly keep the forthcoming 61 happy.

    Specialize in them.

    1. Food

    Specialize in Compassion & Nutrition

    2. Fitness

    Specialize in all 3… Mind, Body & Soul

    3. Friendliness

    Specialize in ‘Super nice deeds more than superficial Niceties’

    4. Freedom from disease

    Specialize in ‘Prevention… more than cure…’ because some diseases don’t have a cure, and

    5. Finances

    Specialize in ‘Frugality and Happiness.’ Stay frugal for a year
    before 20. The experience may just help keep the scary scenarios (which
    may tempt and ignite an insatiable desire to keep accumulating at the
    cost of earth, environment, human health and happiness – self’s and
    other’s, or for ego) away. Make as much as you can… with honesty. Give as
    much as you can with… humility. Feel free to interchange the H words : )

    Live to the fullest best method known to mankind.


    P.S.: The ‘funny stuff’ (podcasts)… keep on keeping on… : )

  • Nicole Greco

    What a breath of fresh air to hear Eliza’s youthful perspective on the podcast. Thanks so much! My advice to her, advice that my adult self would give my younger self is perfectly related to her starting college soon(ish): do something that you love, not something you think will make other people happy. Find a career field you think you’ll truly enjoy waking up for each day rather than one that will make you a ton of money.

  • Amit

    Love the ‘it is ok to slow down *and be mindful*’, and James Baraz’s quote : )

  • Stephanie Maszle

    Hi Eliza! For the majority of my life (from childhood through college and a few years after I graduated) I was an actor… a “theatre person.” It’s what I did for fun and eventually what I did professionally for the greater portion of my life. While I loved every minute of it for most of it, there came a point when I didn’t love it anymore. And I felt very lost because so much of my younger years and high school years had been spent focused solely on that one thing.

    So here’s my advice – as you finish up high school and head off to college, try new things! Step out of your comfort zone and experiment with some things you’ve always wanted to learn or try. Now’s the time to do it before you get too stuck in your adult ways. Because you never know the path your life will take and the thing that once brought you the greatest joy – the thing you were SURE you were going to do FOREVER – may turn out to be the thing that you have to or want to step away from. So it’s always good to have something else that you’re passionate about or have fun doing that you can turn to.

    Best of luck! Just keep swimming 🙂

  • Leslie

    Loved this episode with Eliza. I’m currently 32 and if I could give my 16 year old self advice, I would say “Enjoy it all and be yourself!” I did really well in high school, but didn’t have as much fun as I should have at 16. Also, it’s easy to say now to be yourself and don’t care what others think of you, but at 16 that can be difficult. Honestly, I’m only in contact with a few people that I even knew at 16, so what do I care what they think about me? Also, trust that things will work out. Junior year of high school was definitely my hardest, but, now at 32 I feel like my life has panned out quite well. So, based on that, my last bit of advice is DON’T STRESS about it! Chances are that you will be fine!

  • Che

    What an amazing podcast. You must be a very proud mum for having such a smart and lovely daughter. It’s been 14 years since I was 16 yrs old – I still have pretty good memories when I was in junior high. Thinking about what I experienced at that time and particularly moments I had, I would say try not to skip a fun and especial moment with your family, especially with your grandparents. I remember I used to love to spend the weekend at my grandma’s house – I still smells the simple, but amazing food she would cook for me. Me playing with grandpa – he would get back from work and I would hide under the table and he would pretend he wasn’t seeing me and asking for me. Us eating together, he playing the piano and asking me to sing along. And I used to do that until I started dating (I was 16). No more weekends with grandpa – even on Sunday I would prefer to stay with my boyfriend rather than spending time with them. I know this is part of being a teenager, and I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. But then my grandpa got really sick and he passed way on the same year I was still 16. I’m not saying don’t focus on boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, but never ever let family behind – you’re probably still your grandma’s/grandpa’s little girl, and probably will never grow old to them.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great advice —

  • Jean

    My advice is to enjoy your beauty. It sounds like you may be concerned about your looks based on the face products you talked about. You will never look better than you do today. As you age you will realize that each decade brings beauty, but not always in the way you expect.

  • Carla

    My advice for Eliza is to keep perspective. I remember vividly my worries at that age (12 years ago!) about the future, college, living on my own, etc. In fact, I worried so much that I made myself actually ill, missing a week of school. Every little thing seemed of such great importance. While I would never want to encourage Eliza to not strive to do well, it is important to give yourself some grace to relax, to have fun with friends, to even fail. This is something I really didn’t start to understand until partway through college, and I still struggle with it now.

    My second bit of advice is to avoid drama where you can. It is very easy to get caught up in it all, but it will not add to your happiness. Again, keep perspective.

    Very much enjoy the podcast!

  • Marcia at Organising Queen

    Gretchen, I’m a big fan of your work and your podcast and after listening to this episode, I’m an even bigger fan of you. Eliza is a wonderful daughter – you must be so proud. I adored when she said she will miss bouncing things around with you. AHHHHHH! She is certainly a lot wiser than I was at 16, and I was one of the more sensible teens 🙂 Is she an upholder like you are?

    My advice to her – discover your MBTI style and don’t discount personality in choosing a career/ college course. I studied science and can’t think what possessed me. Hours alone in a lab KILLED me. Now I’m a portfolio manager and I look after clients – MUCH more my thing 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the kind words – and the thoughtful advice!

  • Amit

    First (before 20) ‘know thyself’

    i.e. know if you are a people person OR if you are a thing person.

    People person = One is sensitive, has empathy, regard, manners in interaction with all people irrespective of social standing, race, etc. of the person one is interacting with, genuine concern for welfare of people.

    Thing person = One spends time with his / her violin or coding or mathematics, etc.

    Then, (before 22)…

    …If you find you (will) excel as a people person, suggest reading ‘Talent Code’ by Daniel Coyle.

    …If you find you (will) excel as a thing person, suggest reading ‘What got you here, won’t get you there’ by Marshall Goldsmith.

    May help in crossing hurdles and shattering ceilings that come up later in life.

    All the best.


  • kylidica

    Hi Gretchen, Elizabeth, and Eliza,

    My best advice about college is to explore all the majors and find out exactly what they entail. I was a bit intimidated as a freshman by my friends who were taking cognitive science, linguistics, sociology, and global studies classes. I wish I had gotten over my shyness and found out what those topics were. You just might find that you major becomes something that you had never heard of before you were a college student. Good luck!

    ~Maureen (UC Berkeley, class of 2009)

  • Jin Zhang

    I am sharing this podcast with my 14-year old, good job Eliza!

  • Anne

    I loved hearing Eliza on the podcast. She sounded incredibly poised and grounded.
    Here’s the advice I would give my 16 year-old self: Work hard, but don’t agonize. Do what you can, and then don’t dwell on what you can’t do, or what else you should be doing, or how important this life period is, yadaddayaddda. (As a teenager (and now), I was and am a huge over-thinker, which has resulted in a lot of stress and wasted time.)

  • Meg Imholt

    Appreciate yourself! I was so insecure in high school and struggling to meet all of the expectations adults but on me, I rarely stopped to recognize what I was good at. When I look back, I realize that I was beautiful and smart. I should have been more confident but spent more time worrying than enjoying the freedom and flexibility that comes with high school.

  • The most important piece of wisdom I have to contribute is this: the most wonderful things that have ever happened to me are things that I could never have imagined. It’s okay–even great–to have plans, but be open to the unexpected. Adaptability is key.

    • gretchenrubin

      I was JUST talking about this with a friend today – she made exactly this point.

  • Molly Rose Teuke

    Save early and often, and don’t touch what you’ve saved. The miracle of compounding means that if you save in your 20s and into your 30s, you can very likely stop saving (at least saving so much) in your 40s and 50s and beyond. The very best way to enjoy relative financial freedom is to save early and often. How I wish someone had instilled that value in me!!! I’d be retired now (and doing lots of interesting things) instead of working (which is cutting into my time for my radio program, my sewing projects, my Great Courses, and many other things I’d like to be doing). On the bright side, I like what I do…but there’s so much else I want to do!

  • Stephen

    I would offer the advice to have a direct and honest conversation with your parents about things people don’t tend to discuss, such as mental health and addiction or substance abuse issues within the family. I had this discussion with my mom, and it was a great thing; if only I had the wherewithal to take action I could have shaved some rough years out of my experience. The second thing I would offer is that that first hand experience is not always needed, so if these issues do exist in your lineage and crop up within your life you’ve been warned about potential stumbling blocks before embarking on a time of freedom, exploration, and yes…even a good amount of stress.

    • gretchenrubin

      Such good advice.

  • Eliza

    My advice for Eliza is to listen to your Mum and trust that the best is yet to come.

  • I know I’m late to this discussion, but my advice to my 16 year old self would be to try new things! All of them. Your teens and early twenties are prime time for exploring what interests you and pushing your boundaries. Don’t feel pressured to have it all figured out, because what you think you want will likely change. I was more focused on my romantic relationships when I was a teenager and now I wish I had focused more on myself. 🙂

  • Kelsey

    Loved the episode! My advice for a 16 year old (as a 26 year old) is to worry less about figuring it all out. I was a very driven teenager, wanting to have everything planned out from day 1. But there’s so much that changes, and in ways you never expect. My profession now is something I’d never even heard of when I was 16. I changed my major in my undergrad after the first semester to something completely new because I discovered a new field, and then re-focused again at the end of my undergrad before doing a masters in something completely different. It will all work out! And no, high school was definitely not the best time of my life – having the freedom to make your life what you want it to be as an adult is so much better! Good luck!

  • Tracy Hansford

    I have loved listening to the episode & reading the comments below. The thing I would love to add is to volunteer. I volunteered for several organizations throughout high school & it allowed me to try new things, take my mind off school/impending college, meet new friends, have fun and figure out what was important to me. Though it was hard to time the time away from school & friends then, all those volunteer hours helped me receive a scholarship for school. I try to keep these things in mind as I make time to volunteer in my adult life. Best wishes Eliza!

  • Brian Gerard Rotchford

    Manage your own expectations of yourself and ignore – never attempt to manage others expectations of you or any other subject matter. Your grandfather did this quite well.

  • Felicia

    I second everyone’s comments about how lovely it was to hear Eliza & how mature her comments were.

    In answer to your question – I don’t wish I could go back to my 16year old years. My uni years were great though (18-21), I would love to experience a bit of that again. Long lie ins, a world of opportunity & silliness with friends. The working world isn’t something to rush into too quickly. Embrace the opportunities to learn & have more free time.

  • Dianne Ochiltree

    Don’t worry so much about what your future will look like….think about focusing more on what you are interested in; good at; and makes you feel good doing now.
    These things are not likely to change much over the years, or at least that is my experience. Tuning in to ‘being Eliza’ early and often is the key to future success.

  • Dianne Ochiltree

    P.S. and always wear a seatbelt in a car or taxi. All moms are honor-bound to pass along that one!

  • Jessica Graham

    Hi Eliza, I wish I had realized that when life seems pointless, it may be that I just can’t as of yet see the point. In the book, Made to Stick, the authors quote a high school teacher who was asked when am I ever going to use this? “Never, he told his students, you will never use this…. You do math exercises so that you can
    improve your ability to think logically, so that you can be a better lawyer,
    doctor, architect, prison-warden or parent.”

    This is true of so much of life, not just math. Even though it’s not always readily apparent at the time, the bumps, the heartache, the busy work really does add up to something in the end. Steve Jobs summed it up like this, “you can’t connect the dots looking forward, only back.” May you always be able to connect the dots. Good luck!

  • Brynn Whitney Carter

    I am guessing Eliza doesn’t struggle with this, but what I wish I had known when I was a teenager: how much happier I could be GIVING love and attention to others instead of spending lots of time trying to GET attention from my friends. I also wish I hadn’t “sweat the small stuff” so much. Especially when it came to dating. Everything felt like the end of the world to me…but I could have avoided some unnecessary conflict if I had had the wisdom to realize that things tend to work themselves out.
    In the end, very little that I did as a teen has had an impact on my life, education, career, or marriage. So keep staying afloat! 🙂

  • Nina Della Fera Gadaleta

    Thanks Eliza for helping me consider what my advice for my 16-year-old self would be. It was a valuable exercise for me! Paraphrasing St. Augustine…”Pray like it all depends on God, Work like it all depends on you.” is the best way to describe my idea. Prayer might not be everybody’s “thing” but to me this quote relates the idea that it’s important to work hard but that one must also trust (God, the universe, Karma…you pick) that if we stay on our own path that we wind up just where we are meant to be. I felt so much pressure at age 16 to make my life “right”. If I had thought about it this way it would have been easier to just move ahead the best I could. Good luck.

  • Ruth Fox


    I feel so keen to tell you, in answer to your question, that although I had a pretty happy and pain-free adolescense and time at school, and although my young adulthood hasn’t seen me acheieve all my goals from my teens, and as it turned out actually featured a lot more hardship than my teens – NO WAY! I absolutely do NOT look back on my teenage years as the best of my life and I really wouldn’t go back to them – you couldn’t pay me enough to do that!! In fact my younger sister is your age and doing great at school and stuff and I silently shudder at the thought of school, and I feel so excited for her for the next chapter of her life. Please rest assured that it is absolutely onwards and upwards from here! My only real regret from my teens is worrying that i wasnt doing my teens properly, that I was missing out and not having enough ‘youthful fun’ as I should be – I think this probably held me back from having some of the youthful fun and appreciating what that stage of my life actually was offering me. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I think that ‘best years of your life’ thing kind of psyched me out and put a bit of pressure on me at the back of my mind to have this really particular kind of fun – and not actually be present and enjoy what fun was actually happening. As it turns out, I’m having all the youthful fun now, as a person in my mid 20s – I’m telling you – don’t worry! Your life absolutely has not peaked! I’m having a blast and I’m not dreading the future at all, in fact I’m looking forward to the next decade of my life too 🙂

  • Tara

    I would advise myself not to make a habit of anxiety. I remember that feeling of being “on the cusp” of so many important decisions, and trying to live in the moment and yet filled with anxiety about making the right choices for the future. I wish I had learned at a younger age that because feeling anxious (and self-important about the anxiety at the same time) can so easily lead to self-absorption, I should have cultivated, deliberately and mindfully, a habit of looking beyond myself. I wish I had asked myself upon waking, “What can I do today to show important people and beings in my life how important they are to me, to contribute value to others’ lives?” rather than “What should I worry about most today?” Also, I wish that I had known to gather information to narrow my choices (e.g. five best colleges for me empirically based on programs, quality ratings, etc.) but then to *stop* there and feel my way towards the right answer within those good choices, to go towards what I knew inside, what felt right. That would have taught me to strengthen my muscle of self-trust and inner wisdom, to feel safe with myself in the face of what otherwise could be overwhelm and paralysis.

  • Sarah Rody

    My advice for Eliza would be to work toward total financial independence as she approaches adulthood. I think it is so important for young people to not depend on anyone else financially. It will give you a sense of freedom like nothing else will. I feel that I came very close to depending on other people financially, and by going to college, getting a job/career where I could support myself, and learning to budget, my life has turned out so much better than it might have if I had continued down the path of depending on others for money.

  • Ella Jespersen

    Hi Eliza! This was such a fun episode! You were a joy to listen to and it seems to me that you have a wonderful self-awareness. Thank you so much for your tips and for letting me take a trip down memory lane from my own teenage years. You asked at the end of the episode if there was any advice I would offer to a teenager and I was reminded of a quote on which I based my valedictorian speech for my high school graduation. You see, young children live life in such a beautiful way–in the present. But at some point in the teen years, it seems, people begin to shift their thoughts toward the future. It is when you begin to look just beyond the present and tell yourself, “Life will be better when…..” But the wild thing is that those thoughts will never end. So when you asked, “Will it get better?”, not to be a killjoy but my guess is that it probably won’t. It will always seem that less stress and more happiness is just a step away. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that, just like how you felt when you stalked yourself on Facebook and noticed just how much fun you’ve actually been having, that, too, will happen your entire life long. I am still trying to learn this truth. I still often catch myself thinking about what changes in my life will eventually make it better–when my pregnancy is over, when my baby sleeps through the night, when my master’s program is over, when my front room is re-painted, and on and on and on. But I’m noticing those thoughts a little sooner and forgiving myself a little quicker. I wish you all the best. Stay afloat and enjoy the ride!

    “For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” –Alfred D’Souza

  • One trick I used with myself on the tons of bottles I had accumulated was that I could try something new ONLY if I had finished what I had at home first. That has probably saved me a ton of money, and a ton of space or clutter! Surprisingly, it hasn’t been a hard rule to keep.

  • Betsy

    Hi Eliza, I am catching up on podcasts. I hope you enjoy your new puppy. Having a dog is great and important lesson for all children/teens.
    My advice to you is to be nice to your peers. We all grow up that nerd, beauty queen or jock may be someone you want to know in your adult years. No one wants to be remembered as that nasty, mean girl.

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  • Molly

    This is my favorite Happier podcast ever! Eliza is seems like such a wonderful girl, much wiser than I was at her age. She really seems to have her head on her shoulders and I love that she is thinking about more than just parties, looks, friends, and boys. She is obviously going somewhere and I am just sure we will be reading her books one day! I am sure your mother and aunt can tell you how unbelievably fast it all goes and you have to try and enjoy. (It’s amazing what is meaningless when you get older and it doesn’t hurt to stop sometimes in the midst of what seems like life altering drama and ask yourself if this will matter in 5 or 10 years. As they say, this too shall pass. Always remember that! The best is yet to come!

    By the way, I have always wanted to write in and say that I enjoy Gretchen’s and Elizabeth’s voices. Very nice compelling voices to listen to. And Eliza has such a pleasant voice as well. Must be in the genes!

  • Tracy

    Late advice to Eliza: start a podcast! (That’s a cheat because they didn’t exist when I was 16.) She is poised and has a lovely speaking voice. She probably has a lot to say, and the world needs to hear from more smart girls. (Tangent: My 16 year old shares her ‘mission’ for face masks. Sephora and Ulta are her biggest vice.)

  • Cassandra Kittle

    Always strive to not compare yourself to another person. You are unique in your own right and are in no equal comparison to someone else.

  • Julie

    I echo everyone’s praise for Eliza. Frankly, I’m not sure I’m qualified to give advice to her, since it sounds like she has her act together a lot more than I did when I was her age. But, since she asked: I wish I could go back and tell my 16-year-old self to stop worrying so much about being cool or popular. It’s exhausting (and embarrassing) to think back on all the time and energy I put into trying to be “cool” while I was in high school (particularly since I wasn’t very successful). In two years, when you enter college, it will become clear pretty quickly that no one knows (or cares) who was popular, who was a nerd, who was a jock, etc. in their previous life. I’m in my thirties now and, for the most part, I have no idea what my friends/colleagues/neighbors were like in high school. . . and I don’t care. I just hope that (unlike me) they were true to themselves during that time. Be Eliza!

  • Andrina

    I just listened to this today and it got me thinking about what I was like at 16 vs being 28 and on the other side of university.

    From my own experience I can say that school definitely built up the idea and pressure of uni. The idea that I had to have chosen my career path and be rolling toward it at 110kms per hour. What I would say is, if you’re not sure yet, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It took three different courses and a bit of time for me to figure out what I actually wanted to do – in fact it took me till I was 25. And in between 18-25 I learnt a lot and believe that time was essential to getting me where I am, both in my career and also in my own personal development.

    I’d also say – keep learning. Find stuff that inspires you and don’t get complacent.

    It’s good to keep an eye on the future – but don’t spend too much time worrying about it. If you’re always looking forward you can forget to enjoy the now.

    As I get closer to my 30s, I get to see how far I’ve come, how much I’ve developed and how secure I am in my own skin with my own talents and personality. And I LOVE THAT!

    Eliza, I think you’ll surprise yourself with how awesome your own life will be.

  • Kelly Petersen

    I’m way behind because I just discovered this podcast a few weeks ago, but this episode with Eliza really struck me & I just had to comment. I’m an Academic Advisor at a small-ish liberal arts college in Minnesota, so I’m very tuned into the pressures surrounding high school and college students. Eliza, your fears and concerns made me think about all the pressure to make the “right” decision, something you also seems to feel when choosing facial products 🙂 My advice would be to start getting comfortable with the idea that there is no “right” decision. For little kids, the choice between right and wrong is clear: sneak a cookie or be honest, make fun of the kid who is different, or stand up for them. It’s hard not to carry that mentality forward, but it just doesn’t apply to much of adult life. Pick what sounds interesting, choose the bigger life, then let go of the rest. I know this is easier said than done!!

    The thing is, I spent most of my life working diligently to always make the right choices and act responsibly. Teenagers always hear about the consequences of acting irresponsibly, so the logical extension of that is if you make all the right choices, everything will work out… I’m reminded of a scene in the Meg Ryan movie, French Kiss, where she says: “I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to protect myself from exactly
    this situation. And you can’t do it ! There’s no home safe enough,
    there’s no country nice enough, there’s no relationship secure enough;
    you’re just setting yourself up for an even bigger fall and having an
    incredibly boring time in the process.”

    Try not to agonize over your choices, because there are a lot of ways that you just can’t control your future. I hope that doesn’t sound fatalistic, because of course working hard, treating people with kindness, and taking care of yourself are all really important. But you’re going to have some pain in your life. It doesn’t mean you didn’t try hard enough, it just means you’re human. And that won’t be changed whether you get into your first choice college or end up at your ultra-backup-safety school. I keep a list in my wallet of the three people whose opinion of me really matters. As long as I’m acting in a way that I keep the love and respect of those three people – everything else will be fine. Good luck Eliza!

    • gretchenrubin

      Such great advice! Thank you!

  • Reena

    Aw, Eliza, don’t be afraid of college! I know that going through the admissions process and getting in is so grueling and tough (honestly, that process was probably the worst time in my life) but once you get there, so many wonderful worlds open up. You seem wonderful and incredibly intelligent, and I’m sure that everything will turn out wonderfully for you.

    While I don’t think you need any advice (!!) I would say that I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying when I was younger. If I had known at 16 that the wildest dream I could have ever conceived of at that age would have come true by the time I was in my 30s, I would have enjoyed that time a lot more, and focused on how much I loved doing what I do, rather than whether it would be good enough to get me where I needed to go. If you’re worried, it’s because you are likely seeing all the incredible options out there, and wondering how you’ll ever get to where you want to go – but most of it is just about putting in consistent effort over a lot of time.

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  • I don’t wish I were a teenager again – I just wish I had the metabolism I had then! Seriously, I had a good time in high school – I had good friends (still friends!), did well in school, and was so far off the popularity scale that it just wasn’t a concern. I really enjoyed college – I soaked up learning and took advantage of a lot of the opportunities available to me; I also made friends, explored hobbies, and fell in love with a cool guy (to whom I’m married). But I feel like I really started a life I’m happy with in my 30s and 40s. I became more comfortable with my geeky quirks, I found a hobby/dance form that I love, I got into a career that won’t ever make me rich financially, but gives me doses of happiness almost every day (dog training).

    You have a lot to look forward to!