Twenty Things I Wish I Knew Twenty Years Ago

Written by Angela Atkinson

By Angela Atkinson

Love Yourself10If you could write a letter to yourself and send it back in time 20 years (or five or 10, depending on your age), what would it say? Would you tell yourself that things would get better? Would you give yourself some valuable piece of advice that you didn’t learn until you were older? Would you send back some winning lottery numbers? Maybe tell yourself not to date that loser who broke your heart?

Twenty years ago, I was 16. It seems so long ago sometimes. Other times, it feels like yesterday.

At 16, I was selfish, self-absorbed, emotional, dramatic…overly sensitive…you get the idea. I was probably pretty typical that way. I was also creative and growing into a “real” person. I was independent and dependent, all at once. I liked to consider myself unusual, unique–uncommon. I thought I was dark and disturbed, and in fact, succeeded in making some of the people around me believe it too.

If I could send my 16-year-old self a letter, there are definitely a few things I’d like her to know–even though she probably wouldn’t listen anyway. I’d tell her:

  • You’re so much prettier when you smile.
  • You won’t always be “under the thumb,” but for now, life would be so much easier if you just learned to keep your mouth shut sometimes.
  • Some things really are for your own good, even though they suck.
  • It’s not that cool to be all “dark and disturbed.” And, even though she will eventually steal for pleasure, Winona Ryder isn’t that way in real life.
  • When you meet that guy at Long John Silvers in 1995 and he gives you his number, you will throw it away. When he runs into your friend at Broadway Joe’s later that week, and she calls to invite you out and set you up with him, just stay home. Seriously.
  • Hang in there. One day you’ll look back and realize that you don’t suck as much as you think.
  • Enjoy mall hair while you can, curly head. One day soon, straight hair will be in and you’ll be the one killing your hair with styling tools while your straight-haired gal pals are living it up.
  • You really are a good writer, and you really can have a successful career.
  • You’re going to kiss a lot of toads before you meet your prince. Have fun, but don’t get too invested–one day, you’ll meet the right guy. Just be sure to give him a shot–he’s different than you think.
  • Go to Argentina as an exchange student when you have the chance. It’s not going to work out long-term with that guy you’ve been dating anyway–and Argentina will be way cooler than your senior prom.
  • Don’t let any guy get in the way of your dreams. You will be tempted, trust me, but stick to your guns and follow your heart. It’s leading you somewhere great.
  • Never, ever compromise yourself, your beliefs or your ideals for anyone.
  • Don’t be ashamed of who you are, and don’t try to pretend to be someone you’re not. It’s a waste of time and energy, and you’ll just end up tired and confused. Instead, embrace the real you, and let her shine.
  • Even though you say you never want kids, you’re going to have some one day. And you’re not going to regret it. They will be amazing.
  • Stop eating so much junk food–you’ll regret it one day.
  • You are not fat, and you are not ugly. Stop saying that you are–you’re serving no one.
  • Stop laying out in the sun, and wear sunscreen when you’re out and about. Especially on your face. Tanning is not all its cracked up to be, and you don’t really tan like a normal person anyway. Plus, you’ll get crows feet and be forced to spend a lot of money on expensive face creams to hide them. 😉
  • Smoking is not as cool as you think.
  • You will never really like to drink, and your freshman year in college is not the time to try it. Think, girl! Vomiting in front of the dorm hall? Not so hot. Just saying.
  • Everything is going to be ok one day. I promise.

So how about you? What would you tell your younger self if you could send a letter back in time? Tell me in the comments!


  • Angela Atkinson

    Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own. Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves. Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse here at and at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.

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