"If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be and why?" originally appeared on Quora -- the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
From babysitter's daughter to millionaire by 30, I still believe that had I known the following truths, I may have become even more successful, faster. While I have a pretty great life, I wish I had the luxury of knowing the following advice earlier in life:
1. You should disregard others' unhelpful (and unsolicited) opinions on your looks.
As young kids (this especially applies to girls), we're told to start conforming to an accepted and heavily promoted beauty standard, as evidenced by our dolls, cartoon characters, and celebrities, all of whom conform to a certain type of look -- usually white (thankfully now media has slightly diversified), silky hair, big bust, slim waist, thus "beautiful". Boys and girls usually start picking up toxic gender stereotypes from elementary school, at least subconsciously.
From a young age, our parents, society, people of the same and opposite sex, teachers, etc. -- everyone jumps in to criticize our appearance, our weight, and many other superficial attributes that have nothing to do with accomplishments, moral value, and competencies. We're brought up to live a visual lie that we'll never live up to, because, well, beauty is quite possibly the hardest subject to objectively evaluate!
As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I wish I could have told myself to not hate the way I looked (my mom always derided my "heavy" weight, despite me being a very muscular kid). Even now, I struggle with self-image issues and worry deeply about how potential and current suitors view my attractiveness -- much of which stems from my mother and society's obsession with how Asian women should look: pale, demure, thin, and dainty.
2. You should ignore others' views on your personality.
As a kid, I was always a tomboy. I played games in the dirt and loved all types of sports. This continued to develop as I grew into an outspoken, aggressive, competitive, and fast-talking, non-PC, top-billing headhunter.
I never let others' views that I was "unladylike," too "bossy," unnecessarily "pushy," and overall "unfeminine" get in my way. I know what I'm here for. I know what I want from life and I'll never let someone else tell me how I should be. I'll be whoever I damn well please to be. As long as I'm not committing any morally reprehensible activities, no one has any right to judge me; their view simply doesn't matter! I choose whom I cater to, who my friends are, and what I let others do to me.
Go with your gut and speak up. I know too many people who NEVER say what they think, who always worry what others think of them, and have ZERO personality. While they think they're pleasing others by being non-confrontational, they're regarded as unoriginal, uninteresting, and unmemorable. Of course, being constantly argumentative is insufferable, and isn't the point either. Overall, start having your own views that you've thought through and been educated on instead of just parroting others.
I've gone through that misery in high school where I was a social outcast, eating lunch in the bathroom, terrified to have a personality, let alone let it speak for me. Eventually, I broke free due to a traumatic incident I share here. From then onward, I rarely allow my personality to take a back seat.
3. You should read self-help and self-development books earlier in life.
In college and in high school, I was never exposed to anything beyond straight academic information. Only at age 22 did I start reading books about the law of attraction, self-confidence, and building up the courage to go after the right mindset toward life, careers, and wealth creation.
While I enjoy reading literary works (Ayn Rand was a huge inspiration), nothing quite got me to believe in myself, understand society's incorrect advice, and eradicate limiting beliefs until I read books by Stephen Covey, Dale Carnegie, Rhonda Byrne, Robert Kiyosaki, and Zig Ziglar. I wish that was my curriculum instead of outdated nonsense like Wuthering Heights (why are regular folks still forced to read this useless intellectual bullcrap?!).
I believe our education system is deeply flawed. It upsets me that it took me 22 years to read these life-changing books. I'm one of the few people that even read to learn. The majority of the public doesn't even like to read, let alone read boring, cheesy self-help mumbo jumbo. You can hardly blame them, because our reading lists were so nonsensical and useless! Long story short, start reading non-fiction, business, motivational, and self-help books. They'll change your life, your mind, and your reality.
4. Double down on debt-leveraging when you can.
As I became a top-billing headhunter, earning over $215K as a 25-year-old, I started getting into the real estate game. My first investment was extremely profitable. However, I regret not investing more aggressively at that opportune time. I could definitely have been more risky and aggressive. I was well-read, calculating, and had a solid investment strategy that I consistently proved works. I would have no doubt profited even more had I encouraged my risk tolerance.
I was a young investor; I let confidence and fear creep in. Instead of maximizing even harder off the back of my stable cost structure, my lucrative job, and bright future (young age to boot), I took the safe route and decided to just buy one home first and see how it went.
I ended up investing and fully leveraging myself a few years later in 2016, when I quit my job and used the last of my savings to fund a 1031 exchange, then made one last home purchase in 2017.
Now that I am over-leveraged to a certain degree, I'm happier than ever because I know that I'm maximizing my investment dollars. I'm still protected, because again, I'm still young, revenue-generating through my headhunting business, and able to react nimbly with little financial overhead (no kids, no husband to support, no ill parents, no obligations of any sort). Take advantage while you're young -- don't wait until later in life to take risks. Now is the time to do it.
5. Fight your lower self as much as you can every day.
Sacrifice and delayed gratification is the key to long-term success, wealth, and happiness. I have a big ego, so I need to control it. Instead of buying a Ferrari to show off, I wear clearance clothing, and live, travel, vacation, and eat frugally. I drive a used 2014 Chevy Equinox that isn't all tricked out. I try my best to fight off my lazy urges to Netflix binge for hours. While I sometimes win, many times I lose entire chunks of time to similar non-revenue generating and non-educational or unfulfilling activities.
One of my strengths is that I care about how people regard me; if someone disrespects me, I'm willing to argue, yell, curse, and fight to win my case. As a grownup and as a business leader, I can never give in to the trolls, the negative Neds and Nancys who bother me on a daily basis. I have to let things slide, swallow my lower-level urge to say the most ridiculous, mean, insulting, arrogant, and vindictive things I really want to say. Growing up is all about self-control.
Lastly, health-wise, I still struggle to this day. It's hard to stop eating all the junk food I am used to eating. I didn't grow up rich. As the babysitter's daughter, I grew up eating a lot of meat, carbs, and cheap food. I was told to eat every single morsel on my plate. As an adult, that manifested into unhealthy eating habits, bad body image, and extra fat on my body. Every day I have to fight to wake up early to stick to my exercise regimen and avoid eating white bread and other carbs that hold me back from reaching the desired look I so desperately crave.
As much as fighting yourself on any addiction to your old habits is so hard and almost constantly ineffective, never stop trying. Continue believing in the vision you want for yourself. Every dog has its day, IF that dog works hard for it.
Ultimately, life is not complicated. It's our minds that confuse, demoralize, and torment us. Conquer the mind and you will alter your reality.
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