At 54- What I Would Have Told My Younger Self - Elegantly Dressed and Stylish
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At 54- What I Would Have Told My Younger Self


Good Morning,

They say with age, comes wisdom. That is so true! What would I have said to my younger self knowing what I know now?

One month away from 55.

Have I learned anything?

I would hope so, as if when you learn and continue to learn about yourself, you grow as a person. That is my belief.

Ahhhh. First, get a haircut! Or no more perms! HAHA.

One thing I would say is, laugh alot! There are so many things in life to laugh at and with.

Perspective in life- You Are Good Enough

When I was a teenager, I was so self-conscious. I was the tallest girl in school and always felt awkward. My self-confidence was not great, and I was bullied in my senior year, by a couple of girls, ( with nothing better to do). Or maybe it was because of my perm! LOL. By now, I would have told them to flake off, or at least stood up for myself.

It really is confidence and perspective as far as what changes when you get older, at least it has for me. Are you happy with the person you are?  Are you inherently a good person? This is what matters to me. You can be beautiful on the outside, and a lousy person.

I grew up Catholic and believe in “treat others in how you wish to be treated.”  This is how I have tried to live my life, as well as believing “actions speak louder than words”.  Core beliefs are part of what make us who we are as a person.

In school, especially as a teenager and girl in her 20’s going to college, there is a lot of comparison. That happens, I think, no matter how old you are, but it is how you recognize this and the result of it, that changes as you get older.

Now, as I am older, I would tell my younger self, its great to be tall! Feel good about yourself, you are good enough! Ignore those people that put you down, it is their own insecurities. Confidence will come.

I love the above quote and ask, where were you Eleanor when I was in school? This is so true. If we have a weakened depiction of ourselves, other people’s attitude towards us, will only be fuel to the existing fire. I would tell my younger self to be proud of who I am , that I am every bit worthy of feeling friendship, love, etc as others.

You can do it! Don’t be so critical of yourself Take a chance, and don’t be afraid to do it.

For the longest time, after I became ill,, I stopped playing guitar. Stopped doing things I loved, as I didn’t think I was good enough at it. It was very black and white thinking. After 10 years, I could sit and start to play again, but I was apprehensive because I thought I would stink! So, I just let the guitars sit there. If I wasn’t good enough in my own mind, why play? Well, why not for the joy of playing, for relaxation? And I also learn that we are our worst critics, finding fault when it might just be in our own mind. I think that is what held me back when I was younger. So, enjoy your talents, enjoy your passions.

Often times, we can shortchange ourselves and not think we can do something. We surprise ourselves when we do.

Don’t let other’s views of what is considered the “norm”, hold you back from what you want to do. 

Do What Makes you happy!

I used to joke that I have a tilt to my head in pictures,( I really do!)  as I am much more right brained (artsy, creative) than left-brained (analytical, mathematical).  I have always had to have creative jobs, as I found office work too stifling for me. I had been a teacher for 8 years, and then decided to work on my own teaching guitar. Now, I want to add some students, but have been mainly blogging ( 9 years) and now working on creator content. Some people see this as a hobby or frivolous endeavor, while it is something I am truly enjoying. So, whatever, your job, as long as you love it, and are passionate about what you are doing, that is what makes it for me! I realize it is in part a generational thing, as for my parents, it was that you become a teacher, a nurse, a lawyer. Those dependable jobs. My dad was the creative with photography, woodworking, but his mother never saw anything like photography as a “career”, in those days.

Travel- See the world! 

I would certainly have told my younger self to travel and see the world, experience other cultures. My dad was so afraid of planes, with no basis for the fear. I joked here before saying, he went on a plane twice, to Miami and Miami (for my brother’s wedding and their honeymoon.) I can always remember him talking about plane crashes and I decided when I was younger that I would be safer never flying!

Well, I would have liked to have said, it is a safe way to travel, and just think of all of the things you might miss if you don’t fly. Go to Italy, See Ireland! So, now, I am trying to make up for that lost time.

Don’t Expect Accolades

Maybe it was the chosen profession, maybe I was expecting too much. I have a Master’s in teaching, and always felt I gave 110%. I would always go “beyond the call of duty”. I suppose I expected the “attagirl” pat-on-the-back. When that didn’t come, I would question, why I would even bother doing so much.  I think as you get older, those accolades are certainly nice, but you learn just to be proud of the work you are doing. It doesn’t mean you get “taken advantage of” with your job, but just that you aren’t expecting those quite as much.

Of all of these things, I realize that family, and the person you are is the most important in life. You realize some of the things you fretted over, were smaller things, and you can see the bigger picture now.

Dogs are One of the Best Things in Life

I used to have this discussion about how hard it is to pick a major when you go to college. Maybe you have a lot of interests, maybe you don’t know what you are good at. Maybe you grew up in a family of doctors.  My older self would tell my younger self to take a job with dogs. My husband says my face lights up when I am around them. I can feel the energy shift. I would have loved to have gone to work everyday!  Often you don’t find out in life, what really interests you or that you are good at until later in life. Ok, dogs or fashion. You all know I love it too!

“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”

Again, this is about perspective. I do deal with anxiety now, and think how I was probably a bit of an anxious adolescent. Someone once told me, “When you think of the overall picture in life, the larger scope of things, how important is it?” I ask myself that questions at times too. Little things can be stressful, but I would tell my younger self to think about this and how to deal with stressing out. I have learned diaphramatic breathing and some yoga stretches, calms me down, calms down my nervous system. I am sure that would have helped!

Be Proactive- With Your Health and Life

I have learned that sometimes illness can be managed. It doesn’t mean the rest of your life is over. I could have given up and decided the bed was my only option and that I would have to just take medication and spend most of my days in bed. Well, as I got older, I got more proactive, and believe that to some degree, you can take charge of your health, go to the doctor that is the right fit for you, and find a way to manage illness, while still having a great quality of life!

And I have learned so much more!

I’d love to hear from you and what you would advise or tell your younger self, if you are 40/50+ Let me know in the comments.

Have a great weekend!

Jess xx



  • Emma Peach
    Posted at 14:01h, 21 June Reply

    I agree with all of this! I stopped playing guitar because I thought I wasn’t good enough (I compared myself to others and felt I came up short) and also partly due to my hearing problems. Now that Isobel is in a band and I see how they just get out there and perform to a crowd without worrying too much about what people will think of them, I wish I could have been the same. Constantly worrying about what other people think robs you of opportunity, joy and fulfilment. I have started playing again and enjoy it – especially when everyone else has gone to bed and it’s just me and the cat! Whenever I start to feel anxious over small things I ask myself if I’ll remember it next week, next month, next year. Most things don’t really matter that much. I love the photo of you when you were younger – I think your hair looks great!

    Emma xxx

  • Julie Augustyn
    Posted at 15:04h, 16 June Reply

    Hi Jess!

    I love your list of things you would have told your younger self! I think they can be said at any point in life and are just good reminders! I think your permed hair was the style then as we all probably had perms! That was the trend. Kids can be cruel growing up but there can also be those special friends that we now have for life that have been by our sides through lots of life events! Similarly, I’m extremely grateful to be turning 62 on July 4th. I’m the most confident and the most free of other’s opinions than I’ve ever been! That’s truly a gift! Enjoy your birthday!

  • Nipa | Fashionipa
    Posted at 08:00h, 14 June Reply

    Hi Jess, Such and interesting read. I really don’t know what I would have told my younger self as I think I did the best I could with the circumstances that I was in. Something to think about! Xo Nipa

    • Jess Jannenga
      Posted at 13:13h, 14 June Reply

      That is a good point as well! I think we just keep growing and learn from our experiences. thanks for commenting Nipa!

  • mireille
    Posted at 09:28h, 13 June Reply

    A good read and a lot applies t0 me!

    • Jess Jannenga
      Posted at 13:14h, 14 June Reply

      Thank you! I do think we certainly learn as we get older 🙂 thanks for commenting!

  • Michelle
    Posted at 09:42h, 11 June Reply

    I loved, loved, loved this post, Jess! In fact your post has inspired me to write one of my own – I will tag you when I do. But I do want to say I can relate to the anxiety of not being able to do something perfectly. While you are arty, I am analytical. I know now that I could have benefitted from art classes when I was in school, and I now regret not taking them. But I knew I probably wouldn’t get an A, so I didn’t take them. It seemed like a great strategy when I was a teenager, and now Imrealize how much I cheated myself.


    • Jess Jannenga
      Posted at 13:15h, 14 June Reply

      Thank you Michelle. I would love to hear yours as well. I think it is never too late to try something you wanted to do. I think we can both relate to this!

  • jodie
    Posted at 19:47h, 09 June Reply

    It’s funny because I always say that I was too stubborn to take my own advice if I could have given it, haha. But the things you shared are the wonderful things I’ve learned while getting older. Makes me appreciate my older years.

    • Jess Jannenga
      Posted at 13:16h, 14 June Reply

      Thank you Jodie. Yes, we certainly learn as we get older. There are other things I thought of as well.

  • Jacqui Berry
    Posted at 10:20h, 09 June Reply

    What a great post Jess, wouldn’t it be great if we could literally send a letter to our younger self, wouldn’t it make life so much easier. Have a super weekend hun. Jacqui x

    • Jess Jannenga
      Posted at 13:18h, 14 June Reply

      Yes it would be! The things that we learn when we get older!

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