Everyone needs some words of wisdom dropped on them sometimes, and luckily, the BuzzFeed Community has a lot. Recently, readers shared the life lessons they wish they'd known earlier in life, and I'm definitely taking notes. Here are some of the most enlightening and eye-opening responses:
1."I wish I'd figured out sooner that people don't care what you're doing or what you look like nearly as much as you might worry they do. Most people are worried about themselves and their own issues; they're not going to fixate on your not-done nails or the stain on your pants."
2."It's not worth sacrificing yourself and your mental health for anyone, regardless of who they are. Even if that person is related to you, you should always prioritize your health."
3."Enjoy your children when they are young, before they leave the nest and start living their own lives. I was so busy working, maintaining a home, and trying to keep the strife in my marriage at bay that I didn't always take the time to enjoy being together."
4."Life goes by really, really fast. Sometimes I feel like I went to bed in college and woke up in my 50s. Life isn't nearly as long as we think it is, and we spend a lot of time thinking about and doing stuff that doesn't matter 20 years later, and sometimes not even 20 minutes later. So take everything in, and don't be afraid to slow down."
5."It's easy to get overwhelmed with financial issues. My advice is to not take it so hard. Throughout different points of my life, I've struggled — to the point of having to declare bankruptcy. Honestly, the money will eventually come back, and you'll be okay. Keep a bit of money on the side so that you can go out and have some fun with your friends. You'll spend every single dime trying to pay those bills, and when you turn around, you'll just have more bills. It never ends. So take the time to go out and have fun — it'll rejuvenate your spirit and make life so much happier."
6."Life isn't a competition in so many ways. Don't compare where you are with where other people your age are, and don't listen to people who try to compare you and your life with other people, either. Life isn't a competition, and just because someone else may seem more successful, nobody but them knows the details of their life. They may seem more successful in one area of life, but they could be completely miserable in another."
7."Don't wait to be happy — just be happy. Don't wait until you have the perfect job, the perfect partner, the perfect body, the perfect house, etc. You can be happy now."
—Bernie, 49, California
8."Toxic people can be family, and your family isn't always blood-related. I have family who have nothing to do with me biologically but whom I love wholeheartedly. Sometimes our 'blood family' is toxic and not good for us, and it's okay to let them go and protect your peace. It might seem selfish, but it's really not. You are not responsible for their behavior."
9."Just because it feels good doesn't mean it actually is good. Examine your options carefully."
10."A few years ago, I made a New Year's resolution to be more courteous: Smile more, say please and thank you, shake hands, empathize, sympathize, and be nice even if I don't feel like it. Doing so has paid off in ways I can't even describe. I've found that when you ask for something and say please, people are genuinely surprised (which is sad). Saying thank you to everyone, including service workers, has a result of making you and them feel wonderful. I make the same resolution each year, and every time I have the opportunity to be deliberately courteous to someone, it makes me feel so good inside, especially when I see their smile. So be nice, be kind, and be genuine whenever possible."
11."Understand and accept that some people are just bad people. Don't try to fix them, and don't give them more than a couple of chances to prove themselves."
12."I think my father shared with me one of the best insights: 'Learn to laugh at yourself, especially as you get older.' At 68 years young, I'm beginning to understand just what he meant!"
13."When you are in a relationship and see red flags — like boundaries not being respected, love bombing, gaslighting — pay attention to your gut and beware. Always pay attention to your instincts, because you'll most likely always be right."
14."Become financially literate and keep learning! Plan in your 20s for retirement, and don't get caught up in influencer culture and their lifestyles. Many influencers are still working on top of posting content. I can't stress how important it is to be financially literate, especially for women. It is so important to be smart with our finances and not be dependent on anyone. I drilled this lesson into my daughter, and now she is financially on track, single and child-free, and taking steps to buy her first home."
15."Do not be reactive. Let the dust settle before you react and say something. You'll often be surprised by how quickly you jump to conclusions, especially when you don't know all the facts about a situation. Staying silent and watching how things unfold can sometimes be the wisest option."
16."We all regularly make mistakes — they are life lessons, after all. Taking the chance and making a mistake is better than never knowing what could have happened. If you keep telling yourself that you can't do something, then it's likely you might be the one holding yourself back. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish, and you can be humbled by what you cannot."
17."People can change; don't be too quick to label people and their behavior. The vast majority of us are capable of learning, thinking, and changing. Anyone at any age can reinvent themselves, and people are capable of walking away from bad habits and unhealthy behaviors. We should all be ready to forgive and embrace new behaviors and outlooks in others and within ourselves."
18."If you're about to send an important text, pause before you hit send. Taking the time to really look over what you're saying can make the difference. Maybe you're being impulsive and are about to say something you really don't mean, or maybe you're about to send something totally inappropriate that doesn't match the mood of the conversation. Perhaps you shouldn't send that message at all. If you just pause and reflect before sending a message, it could prevent many regrets and resentments."
19."Good things don't really come to those who wait. Good things come to those who work their asses off and never give up."
20."This is case by case, but don't let the negative experience of one of your parents who is divorced affect your relationship with the other parent. My mom used to tell my siblings and me such awful stories about our dad. I didn't meet him until I was 8 years old, and I was scared to death of him. Years later, I learned he wasn't the monster my mom had made him out to be. I wasted a lot of years missing out on his knowledge of our family history, family recipes, and more because of her hatred of him. My children lost out on having a present grandfather because of it."
21."Give up the need to be right all the time. I've seen countless relationships end because one person, or even both parties, always had to be in the right. Let it go. Ask yourself what's more important: your relationship or being 'right'?"
22."It is okay to leave a marriage or a long-term relationship. It does not make you a failure. When you heal and reflect, you will feel better about choosing your own happiness over keeping up appearances or making it work with someone you aren't compatible with anymore. Family will eventually understand. You will figure out how to support yourself financially, and your kids will be happy if you are happy."
23."Put yourself first. I grew up thinking that was a selfish way to live, but when you put others before yourself, you're saying that their needs are more important than your own. I used to be so selfless that I didn't even realize I had to tend to my own needs. Being raised by a narcissistic mother set me up, and I ended up marrying a narcissist. I thought that was just how things were supposed to be. Too bad it took 45 years of marriage to realize the truth."
24."Marriage isn't a necessity. I am of another generation, and I wish I'd known that I had another choice. Even when it comes to having children — if you want a child, have one! But don't feel that you have to get married to do so. I am not the same person I was 40, 20, 5, or even 1 year ago. I've done the career, the family, and the lot, but I'm ever changing, evolving, and growing. Now I just want my independence and to live out the rest of my life the way I want."
25."Don't be afraid to fail. You automatically fail if you don't try, so if you want to be all you can be, the least you can do is keep trying."
26.Last but not least: "Talk to yourself out loud using the same tone of voice you'd be using when talking to a best friend. Use the same terms of endearment toward yourself that you'd bestow on your partner, pets, or your children. Not only have I found this to be a very effective and self-soothing tool, but speaking kindly to myself helped silence the critical voice in my head."
Do you have any life advice you wish you could tell your younger self? What's a life lesson you think younger generations should learn before it's too late? Let me know in the comments, or you can submit anonymously using this form!
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.