Ten Things I Would Tell Myself Ten Years Ago

As an exhausted adult (also known as “chronic adult syndrome”), I often think back to my 20s. It’s like a horror movie. You know the bit where one of the female leads, walks into a basement, or dark room or inadvertently in the killer’s lair and that eerie music plays (cue the violins and violence), and you see the killer just behind her, crude weapon of choice raised ready for the slaughter and you shout to your TV set: “Turn around! Turn around!”. But she ain’t listening.  And then boom or rather stabbing sounds and the female lead is – dead, dead, dead. And nogals with a look of surprise on her face.


Well, just so you know I wasn’t brutally murdered in my 20s. But they weren’t my wisest years either. And sometimes thinking back I yell to myself “Turn around; turn around!”. But it’s too late for past Ellie.

Let’s just get the horror story straight, I don’t regret my life; I have learnt a lot from it. But I do sometimes wish I could go back, offer some advice, ask some poignant questions and comfort myself during a few horrific (and often self-inflicted) moments.


Before, this blog goes any further, please share what you would say to yourself ten/five/two years ago in the comment section or on Facebook etc. Your insights could really help a fellow struggling South African, in their context.


Back to the blog…

Here are ten things I would tell myself ten years ago:



I am sure some of you can relate… you look back at a photo and think dang I was skinny and at that stage, I thought I was a fatty. Well, I wish I could go back and say, “Just enjoy your body; it’s unique and maybe not perfect but you’ll look back at this time and think: what’s the fuss?”.

Oh, and I would add “Enjoy your metabolism…”.




There is no better reminder than Facebook memories to refresh your memory of the embarrassing things you did, thought and said ten years ago. But even without Facebook, I can remember that as a student (like so many others) alcohol took way too much of priority in my life. If I maybe had less to drink, I would numb the pain and bitterness in my heart, less and actually deal with the issues driving me to alcohol. I am not launching a full crusade against booze. I just don’t think it should be a top priority in anyone’s life. So, I would say to my-ten-year-ago-self: “Cool it, on the coolers!”.




If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to have fewer grudges and deal with the offence that had taken root and festered in my heart. Like a bladder infection or abscess in your tooth, not dealing with pain, anger, bitterness and offence doesn’t make it better as time goes by. It makes it worse. So, I would advise myself to: “Do whatever you need to do, to forgive, let go and deal with it – including seeking professional help if that is what it takes…”.




In my 20s, I thought there were certain people and my lifestyle at the time, that I couldn’t live without. I thought the worst thing in the world would be a life without them. So, at the time I tried my utmost to win approval, love and to impress people – out of fear. And keep up with the lifestyle I had become accustomed to (too many parties). Well, guess what… these people aren’t in my life anymore and my lifestyle couldn’t be more different and I am thriving, exploring, and have self-confidence and enough assurance that if it takes money or me being something I am not, to impress you – it is tata to you. So, if I could go back I would tell myself “It is a choice – just know you will not only be able to survive without these people but thrive without them. And there is more to life than partying it away. Choose the people you spend the most time with and how you spend your time, wisely…”.




Ten years ago, I had massive dreams. I wanted to be a CEO or own a magazine by the age of 30. So, I certainly was ambitious. PS. This never happened by 30. But basically, I wanted to make a poo-poo load of money and wanted fame and success and a mansion and a family and the Carol Boyes everything and more and more and more and more and more and more. Needless to say, it was all about the “I” and the “me”. So if I could go back and say something to myself, it would be this: “Forget about success and focus on significance; forget what you can do for yourself and your own comfort and think how you can impact others; think bigger than yourself and how about you die to self and live for others…”.  





It’s a millennial thing. As much as I hate to use labels and I know how irritating it is when people disdainfully say: “It’s a millennial thing”. But in this case, I have lived through it. I wanted the same success as older generations but right off the bat and at the start of my career, in my early 20s. You see, millennials forget that older generations worked almost a lifetime before they could do the things they (as in the older generation) wanted to do; such as travel, buy houses, and expensive gadgets and cars.


So, comparing their lives in their 20s with their parents’ lives in their 50s/60s, millennials become depressed, discouraged and frustrated because they can’t afford to travel, buy property and gadgets etc. yet.


Anyway… so, I walked into my first (and probably second… and third) job with an attitude of I am the best; it is a privilege for you to have me here and I am going to fly up the corporate ladder AND CHANGE THE WORLD (#SoMillennial). It’s laughable and sad at the same time. So, if I could go back I would say to myself: “Be a bit more humble; you are not the hottest and best thing since chilli poppers; enjoy the journey – don’t rush to the destination and it is important that you learn valuable skills along the way – chill net gou vir my so bietjie and realise success takes flippen’ hard work…”.




All adults (minus teachers) think longingly back to school and varsity remembering those holidays. I often dream about how much I’d sleep and do if I could get my holidays back. So simply put: “Please enjoy your holidays; when you suffer from ‘chronic adult syndrome’, you are going to weep for these days. Use them wisely…”.






The large part of my 20s, I felt threatened and harboured jealousy and anger towards women. Yes, plenty of women give other women good reason not to trust them and plenty of men use this to their advantage. But women aren’t the enemy.  I would tell myself: “We {women} should act in the opposite spirit – every time a lady curses and swears at us/me/you, show kindness and understand she is hurting too. Every time we/me/you feel jealous, angry and upset, express feelings in a meaningful and benign way…” And I would add: “Please always think before you speak and twice before you act…”.




Your 20s can be a wonderful time of figuring out who you are and your likes and dislikes. I didn’t know I was an introvert until I was almost 30 and that I was INFJ (borderline INFP) empath either. Finding these out was life-changing and liberating. In fact, my identity was largely based on what I did and who I was with and not who I was born to be. So, if I could go back I would say this to myself: “Your job is what you do; the people who surround you, are who you are with… neither of which is who you are. Be you and find someone like a professional to help you uncover the true you; you will feel more content once you become the ‘you’, you were born to be…”.





This may sound silly for days. But in my 20s, I was blissfully unaware that I was extremely unhappy, depressed and suffering from inner turmoil. So much was I in denial that my body showed physical symptoms in a form of a whole range of tummy issues but still, I didn’t realise that I was so unhappy.


Only once I sought professional help and got in touch with my emotions did the tummy issues – go poof and disappear into thin air. And once I started processing and verbally expressing my inner turmoil, I victoriously worked my way to freedom, contentment and a joyful soul – like Joan of Arc (okay, definitely not like Joan of Arc – possibly a heroine as victorious but not with such an untimely and excruciating death).


So, I would ask/say to myself: “Do you realise you aren’t happy? Do realise the death you carrying in your heart, isn’t normal? Do you realise that doesn’t have to be your life and that you don’t have to stay here? There is freedom for your spirit and soul elsewhere and you have an incredible future waiting for you; just step away and seek the truth…”.



It’s always easier to offer wisdom in hindsight. Unfortunately, you and I can’t change the past – we can only learn from it and think, what advice would future me, be likely to give to me now? How about ‘dat?

Please share in the comment section below or on Social Media (like Facebook) what you would say to yourself if you could go back in time. It really could help someone out of a toxic situation or give someone courage in a tough season or let someone realise they need help.

A Little About Sparkle Ellie:

I don’t know whether this blog was sparked because of mental health awareness day/month recently or that I become very introspective when I am bone tired from the year’s work. Whatever the reason, I believe people admire other’s strengths; but it is only in sharing one’s weaknesses that people truly connect. It’s the Sparkle Ellie dream to spread a feeling of connection, belonging and hope amongst fellow South Africans and beyond. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog; may something in it inspire you to be the change you dream to see in RSA.

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7 thoughts on “Ten Things I Would Tell Myself Ten Years Ago

    1. Hi Yvette

      Thank you for the encouragement and comment. It warms my heart to know you are also embracing your 30s. I think the best years are still to come.

      Xxxx Sparkle Regards

  1. I would tell myself that I am allowed to say no, to remove myself from toxic situations or places I’m not comfortable in. It doesn’t matter if my decision hurts or offends anyone else; if I’m unhappy/uncomfortable, I may leave – for me. (Still working on this one…)

    1. Hi Jodie

      Thank you for sharing. That’s a really good one! And I think more people should learn this lesson early on in life. It is a process and also means you need to constantly evaluate situations and relationships. Best of luck on your journey of saying “no” and ensuring you remain clear of toxic situations.

      XXX Sparkle regards!

  2. It was only after my 40th birthday that I realised that not one person is perfect We all have imperfections and issues and only then did I start to relax and accrpt myself for the woman that I am

    1. Hi Tina

      Thank you for taking the time to share your story.

      It’s great to hear that you have accepted yourself and that you are more relaxed. We are often our worst enemies and magnify every little imperfection. I hope that all the ladies in your life become inspired by you and your journey.

      Take care!

      Warm regards
      Sparkle Ellie

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