Advice for my younger self

I just celebrated my 32nd birthday this month, and I’m getting married next month, so growing up has totally been on my mind!

I am not one that pines for youth. Reaching 30 was like a great big relief, and I’m so excited to marry my best friend. I wish (like all of us) I could reach back in time and help out younger me. I don’t know if I’m that much wiser, but I’ve at least learned from some missteps. Here’s my attempt.

C’mon, space-time continuum, just flex enough for this to get sent back to younger Ali! 🙂


Don’t be such a rigid nonconformist.

You’re going to miss out on some fun things for the sake of eschewing everything mainstream. You are also going to put yourself through some hell to prove you’re “different.” Like, what are you proving being the only girl on the boy’s baseball team? (And soccer team??) You’ll hate it! Follow what you enjoy, whether it be conformist or not.

Learn a trade.

Your interests are weird and widespread, and you’re going to need some steady income to support them. Instead of taking the college track in high school, get your hairdressing license, or learn to weld or apprentice at at tattoo parlor or something.

Don’t go to college.

Greek life will confuse you, school spirit will confuse you, more math classes will confuse you. Move to a big city and take art classes, theater classes, singing lessons, and dance lessons. Volunteer. Get political. Participate in the world you live in. You won’t like the bubble of college.

Crazy relationships may be unavoidable, but end them quickly.

I had a professor once say that in our younger relationships, we can hear the dog-whistle call of someone’s crazy who resonates with our crazy. And then you get together and it’s one big crazy mess. Maybe that siren call of crazy is unavoidable, but getting out is a choice. Get out sooner rather than later!

Ask for help, and then accept it.

You’re going to come up against some mountains in your life. You cannot get over them on your own. Allow those that love you to support you. Surrender the idea you know everything and can control everything. You can’t.

Avoid roomates.

You need a place where you can dump all your pens on the floor, make art for a few hours, then get tired and go to sleep without cleaning up. Can’t do that with roomates.

Learn to be (just a little bit once in a while) politic.

Rushing headlong into battles of righteousness gets exhausting, and there are so many better ways to navigate other people.

Instead of trumpet, take up the guitar.

Music is grand, but band will be a colossal waste of youth. And, unless you’re really talented and passionate on trumpet (P.S. YOU’RE NEITHER) it won’t be a lifelong pursuit. From garage bands in your teens to prog-rock in your twenties to cover band thirties to the blues improv forties, guitar is forever.

You do not have a green thumb: your garden will die.

Marrying a sustainable agriculture major will help with this. Wait until then.

Don’t cut your own hair.

Just…trust me. Ooh! Also, don’t DYE your own hair. Yeesh.

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