WHAT I’VE LEARNT

Fairlady - - CONTENTS - Com­piled by Marli Meyer

Women tell us what they wish they’d known – and what they know for sure

How of­ten have you thought ‘I wish I’d known that in my 30s’ or ‘If only I could go back and talk some sense into my 20-year-old self ’? With each decade, we gain so many new per­spec­tives. We asked our girl­friends, moms, great-aunts and sis­ters for their best bits of woman-to-woman ad­vice – here’s what they had to say. WHAT AD­VICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

‘Marry some­one who is sen­si­ble when it comes to money.’ – Tanya, 46 ‘In­vest in more me-time. Do core-build­ing daily. Breathe and blink be­fore you re­act.

Drink warm lemon-ginger wa­ter first thing in the morn­ing. In­vest time in your­self. Take lessons and learn how to con­nect your mind with your body through dance. And make time to be a kid with your kids ev­ery day.’ – Ma­ri­ette, 39 ‘Take more chances. As a woman in your 20s or 30s, you should be wear­ing a bathing suit with con­fi­dence. This is the best you will ever look!’ – Louise, 62 ‘I had both my kids in my 20s and I was so stressed out and wor­ried about do­ing ev­ery­thing “right” that I don’t think I re­ally en­joyed all the cute things they did and said when they were lit­tle. If Take more chances. As a woman in your 20s or 30s, you should be wear­ing a bathing suit with con­fi­dence. This is the best you will ever look! – Louise, 62 I could go back I would be more re­laxed and pay less at­ten­tion to ev­ery­one’s “must-fol­low” ad­vice.’ – Jean, 64 ‘Pos­i­tiv­ity is not al­ways the best route; some­times it breeds com­pla­cency. It’s okay not to like ev­ery­thing.’ – Leri, 24 ‘Ev­ery­thing is “fig­ure­outable”. It’s okay to do things in your own way at your own pace – don’t worry so much about tick­ing ev­ery­one else’s boxes.’ – Marli, 27 ‘We were raised to al­ways be po­lite and ac­com­mo­dat­ing – it took me years to learn how to speak up for my­self, put my foot down and say “NO (thank you)”.’ – Nina, 62 ‘Don’t hold your­self back be­cause you’re afraid to do some­thing. Do it, take re­spon­si­bil­ity for it and wing the rest.’ – Andrea, 47

You are not your job. You are never too old to learn

new.❜ some­thing – Elma, 59

Look­ing back, I would have stood up to men, au­thor­ity and

sooner.❜ tra­di­tions – Mia, 24

‘Don’t use hair colour from a box.’ – Amanda, 39 ‘Re­lax. Don’t sweat the small stuff. And con­tinue to be­lieve in the good­ness of peo­ple.’ – An­nie, 43 ‘Start ex­er­cis­ing at a young age. Look af­ter your phys­i­cal health, and move your body for at least 20 min­utes a day. I wish I had. You will be amazed at how quickly your body gives up the ghost on you if you don’t – it lit­er­ally hap­pens overnight. It’s not re­ally about look­ing younger; it’s about feel­ing strong – men­tally and phys­i­cally.’ – Caryn, 50

In my 20s: ‘Trust your­self more and take less ad­vice from oth­ers.’

In my 30s: ‘Don’t burn the can­dle at both ends – no­body’s ac­tu­ally watch­ing!’

In my 40s: ‘Don’t feel guilty about any­thing – any­thing. There’s no time to waste: don’t look right and don’t look left – just keep go­ing; it will all work out. And re­mem­ber to be kind!’

In my 50s: ‘Make friends, make good choices. As much as you can, make life spe­cial. And be gen­er­ous with ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing your­self.’ – Maria, 61 ‘You don’t have to do ev­ery­thing; it’s okay to ask for help. Of­ten the peo­ple who mat­ter are just wait­ing for you to reach out and ask them.’ – Kim, 42 ‘Look­ing back, I would be much kinder to my­self and con­grat­u­late my­self on what I’ve achieved, rather than be­rat­ing my­self for what I haven’t done.’ – Sam, 49

WHAT’S THE BEST AD­VICE YOU HAVE EVER RE­CEIVED?

‘In my 20s I worked with an older lady who one day told me, “Marry a man that you like as per­son. He must be fun, kind and make you laugh. Don’t marry a man you love but do not re­ally like as a per­son. If you like some­one as a hu­man be­ing, the love will grow as you get older and you will like and ap­pre­ci­ate each other.” Other great pieces of ad­vice I got were: “Never go to bed with makeup on”; “Be fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent – it gives you con­fi­dence in your re­la­tion­ship with your man” and “Al­ways have a lit­tle black dress in your cup­board that’s ready to wear”.’ – Louise, 62 ‘When you’re grow­ing up, it’s dif­fi­cult when you don’t feel like you’re part of the pack, and you find your­self ques­tion­ing many of the things that adults tell you. My mom, in her in­fi­nite wis­dom, told me it’s okay to be crit­i­cal and to ques­tion things, in­clud­ing au­thor­ity. She also told me the per­son who leads is of­ten alone.’ – An­nie, 43 ‘I tend to over­com­mit, so I’ve learnt never to say “yes” im­me­di­ately. I say, “I’ll have to check and get back to you.” That way you can go home and think about it, and if you have to, phone back and po­litely de­cline.’ – Sonja, 34 ‘“Broaden your hori­zons, doll.” (from my mom when I had a dead­beat boyfriend in high school).’ – Mia, 24 ‘Be­ing in­ter­ested is in­ter­est­ing. And never get so an­gry that it costs you money.’ – Leri, 24 ‘What you tend to want most when you’re young is for peo­ple to like you. But I’ve come to ac­cept (es­pe­cially when deal­ing with dif­fi­cult peo­ple) that you won’t get on with ev­ery­one, and that you can’t change peo­ple. The only thing you can change is how you re­act to them. It’s given me a lot of peace.’ – Jen, 36

In my 20s: ‘In­vest time and ef­fort in your friend­ships. And keep a jour­nal for your kids, start­ing from the day the test shows a pos­i­tive re­sult un­til the day they’re old enough to take over the au­thor­ship.’

In my 30s: ‘Make sure your brain se­cretes all four happy hor­mones each day. This is within your con­trol, and there are enough vari­ables in life that are not.’ – Ma­ri­ette, 39 ‘Buy prop­erty as soon as you can, no mat­ter how young you are – the sooner the bet­ter. I lis­tened and it has re­ally paid off. Also, never rely on any­one else to pay the bills – be self-suf­fi­cient. It will help you to make the right de­ci­sions in your life, that could oth­er­wise be swayed by not hav­ing the means to look af­ter your­self.’ – Caryn, 50 ‘I had my kid when I turned 30, which I thought was a good age since I was ma­ture and sta­ble The best ad­vice I got in my 20s was to breathe be­fore you re­act. Try to un­der­stand what you want to achieve with your re­ac­tion be­fore you re­spond. – Gina, 53

You can’t keep do­ing the same thing and ex­pect a dif­fer­ent re­sult. – Sam, 49 enough to deal with all the chal­lenges that come with a new baby… or so I thought. The best ad­vice I re­ceived from my mom was: “Par­ent­ing doesn’t come with a man­ual and ev­ery kid is dif­fer­ent. Go with your gut; you will know when some­thing is right and when some­thing is not. And don’t put un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions on your­self and on your child.”

‘An­other great piece of ad­vice came from a pri­mary school friend I re­con­nected with, who said: “En­joy the space you are in.” Even when things aren’t go­ing too well, live through it and learn from it be­cause it can lead to greater ful­fill­ment later.’ – Kim, 42

In my 20s: ‘Go away to far­away lands, learn to wash in public places, eat off other peo­ple’s plates.’

In my 30s: ‘Pay for a babysit­ter – no one likes other peo­ple’s chil­dren.’

In my 40s: ‘Get a life and re­mem­ber that Mon­day is a good day to want to “divorce” your hus­band – it gives you the whole week to re­learn to love him!’

In my 50s: ‘Travel to far­away lands – you can af­ford it.’ – Penny, 52 ‘My aunt has a say­ing that we can all par­rot back to her at this point: “What you al­low is what you get.” It ap­plies to just about ev­ery re­la­tion­ship you have – your friends, part­ner, your kids and even your par­ents. You teach peo­ple how to treat you. If you keep quiet when some­one is be­ing dis­re­spect­ful of your time, or you give in to un­rea­son­able de­mands, you’re set­ting the tone for that re­la­tion­ship, and those pat­terns be­come in­grained over time.’ – Liesl, 35 ‘I used to think peo­ple who were loud and opinionated had it all fig­ured out. But of­ten all that pomp is just a smoke­screen for a whole lot of in­se­cu­ri­ties’ – Ju­lia, 37 When choos­ing a part­ner, kind­ness trumps cool – and hu­mour trumps ev­ery­thing.

Learn how to be a damn good friend and a seestah to other women: the friend­ship of women is one of the great joys in life.

Cul­ti­vate a healthy disrespect for ev­ery­thing (this doesn’t mean rude­ness: good man­ners are a pretty good so­cial lu­bri­cant).

Be­lieve in peo­ple as much as you can: they’ll let you down as much as if you didn’t, but your own head will be a hap­pier place to be. – Suzy, 55 ‘My grand­fa­ther wasn’t ex­actly a font of wis­dom, but he did give me this piece of ad­vice: “Don’t come to me with prob­lems – come with so­lu­tions.” It’s been in­cred­i­bly use­ful at work and in my per­sonal life as it makes me fo­cus on the pos­i­tive. Al­most ev­ery prob­lem does in­deed have a ready so­lu­tion, and if it doesn’t, you can thrash it out with some­one you trust.’ – Amanda, 39 If you’re feel­ing de­flated, vol­un­teer at an or­gan­i­sa­tion in your com­mu­nity – like a place of safety for vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren or some­thing fun like Santa Shoe­box. When­ever I’ve felt down or like ev­ery­thing is point­less, vol­un­teer­ing at a place in need has put things into per­spec­tive and showed me that the small things re­ally are the big things.’ – Marli, 27 ✤

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