7 Things I Wish I’d Known 10 Years Ago

[bigletter custom_class=””]I didn’t do the 10 year challenge last year –  or even post a gallery of ‘then and now’ photos on Facebook, as New Year’s Eve struck. [/bigletter]

Honestly?

I just found it all a bit too depressing really. 

The thing is, while a lot has changed for me in the course of the last decade, on a day-to-day basis, it sometimes feels like nothing much has changed at all. Yes, we have a new house and new child – both huge changes in their own right, obviously – but, at the same time, we’re still in the same jobs, still working from home, still feeling like we’re waiting for our lives to begin, really. 

And that’s the crux of the matter, really, I suppose. So much has changed, but, I somehow don’t think Amber-from-ten-years-ago would be all that happy to know that she’s still waiting for that moment when she feels she’s finally got it all worked out: that she still hasn’t paid off her mortgage, bought a house in the sun, or visited New York City. And that kind of sucks, you know? 

So I think the first thing I wish I’d known 10 years ago would be this:

You’re never going to feel like you’ve got it all worked out: so maybe stop waiting for that to happen, you know?

I have a terrible habit of living for tomorrow, rather than today. I’ll start that diet tomorrow. I’ll get back into an exercise routine once the weather warms up a bit. I’ll be happier when I’m richer, or thinner, or when I finally figure out a way to have more free time. And, of course, you live your life like that, and suddenly it’s ten years later, and you never did get round to doing all of those things you wanted to do, because you were always waiting for a perfect moment, which never arrived. 

It’s such a cliche to say that you should try to live more in the moment, but… you should live more in the moment – because, before you know it, those moments will be gone, won’t they?

In 10 years time, you won’t still own any of the clothes you’re buying now: save your money – or spend it on travel, instead, while you have the chance.

When I look back through my images folder from 2010, I cringe so hard that it’s difficult to keep my eyes on the screen, seriously.  In 2010, I was trying very hard to be a fashion blogger , and I was mostly doing it by buying heaps of clothes that weren’t even remotely practical for my lifestyle .  

Don’t get me wrong: I did like them… but I had so few opportunities to actually wear them that I was basically just dressing “for the blog” all the time, even if it meant going to Nando’s dressed like I was off to the debutante’s ball: which is where all the cringing comes in, obviously. (Well, that and the poses. And the eyebrows. And … well, everything, really.)

Florida, 2010I spent an absolute fortune on clothes in 2010, and in the decade that followed it. I don’t still own ANY of them now (Although, I do still own some of the shoes, now I come to think of it…), and it’s not because I wore them all to death, either, which would make me feel a tiny bit better: actually, the vast majority of those pieces were worn just a handful of times before being replaced with something I thought I liked better/would wear more often, and, when I look back now, I feel almost physically sick at the thought of all of the money I wasted on disposable fashion, that didn’t actually make me happy. 

Amber: you are never going to make it as a fashion blogger. You are never going to have the kind of lifestyle that requires 25 different cocktail dresses and a shoe wall. You will want to move out of that cramped little house, and go on amazing holidays, so do me a favour and save your money for that, yeah? 

Also inspired by that look back through my photo archive…

You are much thinner than you think you are

Unlike many of the people I’ve seen doing the 10 year challenge, or something like it, I don’t look back at photos of myself from a decade ago, and think I looked significantly better. That’s not because I think I’ve aged particularly well, I hasten to add (Au contraire…): it’s just because I have a complete inability to look at ANY photo of myself without zeroing in on all of the flaws, and, in the case of my decade-younger-self, all I see is the terrible teeth, the over-plucked brows and… I’m just going to stop right there before this post gets even more awkward than it is already, actually.

One thing I DO notice in those photos, however, is that I might not have been better looking when I was younger, but I was much thinner than I thought I was. This actually makes me quite sad, because I remember, at the time, I was quite unhappy with my figure, and, in retrospect,  there was really nothing wrong with it. I really wish I had known that at the time: or maybe just cared about it a little less, even…

You’ll never be younger than you are right now

I realise I’m making this post all about appearance – which actually wasn’t my intention, believe it or not – but seriously: I spent almost the entirety of my 30s thinking of myself as some kind of ancient crone, when I was practically a BABY. A BABY, FFS.

In my defence, I think a lot of this was driven by the aforementioned attempts at fashion blogging, and the fact that, at the time, most of the top bloggers in that particular niche were at least 10 years younger than me, but all the same, it was utterly ridiculous to be basically writing myself off, and feeling like my life was over, when I was so, SO young, really. 

I just couldn’t see it, though. So I worried that my hair was too long for a woman of my advanced years. I worried that my skirts were too short – even when they were, like, an inch above my knee or something: I mean, THE HORROR, right? I worried about everything, really: and it’s only now that I actually AM really old (Ahem) that I can finally see what an absolute idiot I was, I mean, REALLY.

2010 outfit photosThe takeaway from this one, of course, is that one day I’m going to look back on my current age, and feel exactly the same about it. The truth is that I will never be this young again: so I should probably try to make the most of it, no?

No, you are not doomed to die in childbirth, Amber, settle down, FFS.

Of course, the biggest change of the last decade has been the fact that this was the decade I became a mother. Not only could 2010 Amber not have even imagined that happening, she couldn’t even have imagined wanting it to happen: so, yeah, pretty big change all round, then. 

While parenting has, indeed, been every bit as hard as I imagined it would be back then – harder, even – I still wish I’d known it was possible for it to happen: for me to overcome my crippling anxiety about it, and end up with the literal Cutest and Best Baby in All the Land. I wish I’d known that sooner: not just so I could’ve been a younger mum, and maybe had a bit more energy for the trials of toddlerhood, but, of course, because it would’ve given Terry’s mum more time with Max, which is reason enough on its own to wish I’d been willing to at least entertain the idea back then. 

Of course, with that said, I know the true fact of the matter is that if we HAD decided to start a family ten years earlier, we might have been younger, but it wouldn’t necessarily have been easier: in fact, I actually think it would have been even harder, for a number of different reasons. And I might have a bit less energy these days (Although even that is up for debate, to be fair: I don’t THINK I feel any different, really?), but I’m also a lot more patient than I used to be: which is also pretty important, all things considered…

The days are long, but the years are short. Like, really, really short…

People say it about parenthood, but I actually think it applies to everything in life, really: the years are short. Mind-bendingly, terrifyingly short. And, you know what jumps out most for me when I flick through those old photo albums, or read my blog posts from ten years ago? The fact that it all still feels so RECENT to me. Seriously, I feel like the last decade just flashed by in the blink of an eye, and that fact scares me half to death. Things that still feel fairly recent to me are ancient history to someone younger: which, of course, means that these days we’re living through NOW are the ‘ancient history’ of the future. 

I remember being a child, and thinking that the 1960s, which my parents would talk about often, were SO long ago that they were practically the middle ages of something. Actually, though, I was born less than a decade after the 60s ended: so, when I was a child, or a young teenager, those days must have still felt fairly recent to my parents, the way the ‘noughties – and even the 90s, really – still feel fresh to me now. I find that quite hard to get my head around, really: even more so when I think about Max, and how one day he’s going to listen to our tales of 2020, and look at all of our photographs, and just think, “LOL, MUM, U OLD.” Or however people speak in the future. 

My point, here? It’s the same as the very first one, really: appreciate today while you can – because one day it’s going to be ten years ago, and you’re not going to know where the time went.

There’s just one more thing I wish I’d known ten years ago, though, and it’s this:

Get your eyebrows microbladed as soon as that becomes a thing: trust me on this

Because if microblading had been a thing back in 2010, I maybe wouldn’t have to cringe quite so hard when I look back at those old photos, you know?

(Maybe hold off on the Russian Volume Eyelash Extensions, though: trust me on that one, too…)

What do you wish you’d known 10 years ago?

Unfiltered

COMMENTS
  • Nellie

    REPLY

    Really insightful. I’ve been reading your blog for several years and I’ve loved seeing you become who you are. It’s easy to be critical of our younger selves but most of us do the best we can at the time. I wish my kids and I had done more travel together. The trips we’ve gone on have been very bonding.

    January 29, 2020
  • Alice

    REPLY

    Maybe this is a bit too serious but I wish I had known about Brexit. I would have tried to move overseas and gain nationality of another EU country a lot sooner.

    January 29, 2020
      • D. J.

        REPLY

        How so? Regulations?

        January 31, 2020
  • Mary Katherine

    REPLY

    VERY thought-provoking! Hmmm…I wish I’d know that I would work 3 more years teaching culinary arts to folks on public assistance, despite looking for another job the whole time. I wish I’d appreciate more what an eye-opening and rewarding experience that was, or how much I’d miss the classroom/kitchen after I left it. I wish I’d let my boyfriend know I was really ready to get married and not waited more years for that. I wish I had the confidence and courage I have now, but that was earned slowly each year. The wisdom and insight gained DO compensate for the wrinkles and loss of muscle tone, at least for me. Not that I’m giving up Pilates, or creme brulee…..

    January 29, 2020
  • I think I may have enjoyed my late twenties and early thirties a lot more if I’d known one day I would meet the right person and become a Mum. It meant so much to me that I spent so much time feeling fearful it might not happen and wondering what on earth I’d do instead if it didn’t (as it took me until my mid-twenties to realise having kids isn’t a sure thing – I just hadn’t pictured a life for myself where I didn’t have a family), had I been safe in the knowledge that I’d have my little boy today I think maybe I’d have relaxed a bit and made the most of enjoying single life a bit more. I also would have loved to know it really wasn’t worth the time investing in the crappy relationships I was in back then – though of course if I’d known that I might not have ended up here today with the person I did! So I guess I’m a firm believer that all paths lead you somewhere and right now that somewhere is really good so I wouldn’t want to change it. Life is funny that way, hey?!

    January 29, 2020
  • Brenda

    REPLY

    Gosh, did you write this post for me??? Because it sure resonates! As I have gotten older, I am a little better about “living in the moment”, but yeah…. looking back there are certainly some cringe-worthy moments. I really wish I hadn’t cared about what other people thought so much. Ugh. I also wish I had started a serious exercise program a lot sooner. I always exercised on an off without a lot of structure. But 4 years ago, I decided to get a little more serious about being consistent and “showing up” and it has changed so much for me — in a good way! My mental state is way more stable, I am a little more conscious about “eating well”, but splurging once in a while, and I am less concerned about my “physical” look. I know I work hard and I am doing my best so…

    Probably one of the biggest realizations I came to in the last couple years, is learning to let go. I had a really traumatic event happen in my life and for SO LONG I searched for the “why”. Trying to figure out how and why, and the psychology behind why this occurred. Finally at some point I realized that I needed to just let it go. Stop trying to figure it out because there will probably never be an answer. It was completely beyond my control and I had to accept that. That has been pretty freeing also. But I wish I had come to the realization sooner.

    Thanks for a great post, Amber!!

    January 29, 2020
  • Jenna

    REPLY

    I also have looked back at past photos and thought, “Why was I so obsessed with my weight?!” I spent so many years going up and down 15lbs and frantic about it-but in those older photos I look soooo thin. Now that I’ve stopped obsessing and let myself just stay at a slightly higher weight, I’m not constantly gaining and losing. Boy does that make life easier!

    I also wish I had known, when so stressed about high school, undergrad and my thesis in grad school; that my success in my career would have NOTHING to do with the grades I received. Lots of wasted worry there!

    January 30, 2020
  • Interesting post! I wish I wasn’t so insecure about myself and anxious in my teenage years and 20s and had been able to enjoy that time more. I also wish I had cared less about what other people thought of me. I also used to shop for my imaginary lifestyle. I’ve got one wardrobe which is full of party dresses which I never have the opportunity to wear anymore! Occasionally for a wedding I can usually find something, but other events are always casual. Same with shoes, I’ve got lots of pretty heels I never wear..

    January 30, 2020
  • Zulema Williams

    REPLY

    Everything about this post is so relatable Amber.
    I’ve been reading your blog(s) since 2012 and I can tell you that I’ve loved and still love every single post you’ve ever made.
    Your evolution and growth is just part of what makes all of your universe so wonderful.
    Even the Russian Extensions, that was probably one of the things that has made me laugh the most in my life.
    🙂

    January 30, 2020
  • Great post Amber. It’s funny how life makes you wiser. I’m at a similar stage of looking back and thinking, hey, you weren’t as bad as you thought you were, which is giving me less hang ups now, I think, and also makes me care a little less about what others think.

    February 1, 2020
  • Patty

    REPLY

    Hi Amber. I’m trying to subscribe to your blog but your website is not accepting my email. Is there some kind of glitch going on?

    February 2, 2020
  • Erin

    REPLY

    So I just went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando with my best friend, and we literally kept taking selfies (well, you can only go up to a stranger so many times to get a picture from a terribly unflattering angle of your 15 chins, amirite?), staring at the pictures of our haggard, 38 year old, non-botoxed selves in horror and then saying “well, we’ll never be this young, or probably this unwrinkly and haggard again.” And honestly, I look at the pictures already and am so grateful to have them even if we definitely were too lazy to put on make-up to go to a theme park.

    February 4, 2020
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