It's an old, but true, cliche about how different life would be with the benefit of hindsight. It's taken me almost 30 (long!) years to learn that the things which consume us and cause us sleepless nights at any given time, will be old news and long forgotten as the pendulum swings. So what advice would I give the younger me, if I had that opportunity to go back and meet her?
Having your heart broken is so important in learning how to love.
This all consuming pain of losing your first love, falling out of love or loving someone who simply doesn't love you back, will feel like it's tearing you in two. You'll cry yourself to sleep and you'll spend hours, days, months even, wondering what was wrong with you or what you could have done differently. But there was nothing, and there IS nothing wrong with you. It just wasn't meant to be. And to understand love fully, to appreciate it and to know what it feels like to lose it, makes all of us better partners.
And there is someone out there for you. Someone perfect. You just haven't met them yet.
You can't always be strong.
You'll come to learn that people rely on you. You are the strong one, the one that props others up in times of need. But you must take care of yourself too. Burnout will help no one, least of all you. Sometimes, you might need support, and you're going to need to ask for it. Don't be afraid, don't be ashamed.
Becoming a mother will be the hardest thing you ever do.
It will test your knowledge, willpower, reasoning, patience, endurance, restraint and everything else in between. There will be days when you wonder why you did it. There will be days when you'll be driven to tears, either through pure upset or total frustration. It will leave you feeling vulnerable, realising that the world is a big scary place and all you want to do is wrap your children in your arms and protect them from every bad thing there is out there.
There will be lonely days, and days when you don't leave the house. You will have days when you feel like a failure, and days where you long for your old life back. Then those days will close with Mum Guilt and feeling like a bad person for even letting those thoughts enter your mind.
But it will also be the single most rewarding thing you will ever do and your heart will swell to contain a love you never even imagined was possible.
Have more faith and belief in yourself.
Your insecurities and self doubt will hold you back in the things you want to do, far more than any inabilities to actually do them. Having these doubts is a part of your personality, and it's ingrained in you, but you must fight back against it and take yourself out of your comfort zone in order to push forward and succeed. There is a community of strong women out there ready to support you - just go and find them.
Learn how to live in the moment.
Because every moment, phase or section of your life, will pass so quickly, and you can never go back. Live young for as long as you can, and put the big worries on hold until the time is right.
And lastly, take more photos!
Your memory has never been great, and names, places, events and feelings all fade too quickly. Forget how you feel about your own appearance, not liking how you look in photographs and avoiding the camera lens. One day, these will be all you have to remember the best times of your life, so take them, save them and treasure them.
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