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Team Man Repeller Gives Advice to Their Younger Selves

When I was home visiting my mom last month, I decided to dig up my high school photo album. Pre-Facebook and pre-digital cameras, I would frequently buy a disposable camera, write my name on it, tell my friends to pass it around and collect it at the end of the day. Pretty sure I got the idea from a Kodak commercial but I felt like I was doing important artistic work, capturing the best years of our lives before we had to move on to full-blown adulthood, which would hit the moment I turned 23.

I count myself lucky in that I went to a well-funded, diverse public high school full of really smart and interesting people. While not actually the best time of my life, my teen years were pretty fun and relatively drama free. I look back at my teen self with great fondness and frankly, a lot of respect. I miss that girl who was so confident in her ideas and her taste, who knew that, yeah, maybe no one wanted to kiss her in high school, but she was really going to flourish when she got out (it took longer than expected but it actually happened). If I could give advice to her I would simply want her to hold on to that. To carry it with her through the harder years ahead, that the things she secretly believed about herself might actually be true, and she should trust it.

In honor of Nostalgia Month, I asked my coworkers if they had anything to say to their younger selves, and in typical fashion, they delivered some insightful and beautiful words of wisdom to their past selves.


On School

“I know it was subconscious, but I’m really proud of you for knowing that just because you do the bare minimum to get by with respectable grades does not mean you aren’t a passionate person destined to do what you deem incredibly important work in your lifetime.”

-Leandra Medine, Founder

“Pay attention in history class. You don’t know how many TV shows will require this knowledge. Also be nice to everybody and don’t get down on yourself when your peers don’t include you in things. You don’t know how much time you have to socialize and have even more fun when you’re in college and beyond.”

-Elizabeth Tamkin, Market Assistant

“My experience at boarding school and college was shaped by the advice I received from others: make an effort to get to know your professors, carve out time to go to lectures/exhibits/panels, say people’s names when you say hi to them. This advice was all invaluable in shaping my experience. However, during homecoming, we would constantly be told by alumni to ‘enjoy every second because they’re going to be the best four years of your life.’ At the time, I genuinely believed that was true, so my efforts to be grateful and live in the moment blinded me to the shortcomings of my school. I wish I had the knowledge to recognize the problematic aspects of my schooling, and the courage to call it out as it happened.”

Starling Irving, Social Media Assistant 

“You don’t have to do everything perfectly. Instead, pay attention to what really excites you and go deeper there.”

-Patty Carnevale, Head of Partnerships

“This one’s simple: go to the library consistently. Now I can look back at my college days and clearly see that everything would have been so much easier if I hadn’t waited to take my assignments seriously until the situation was dire. If I had just blocked out time every day — okay, that’s ambitious — or every few days to go to the library, I would have had a much better handle on my classes and 90% fewer all-nighters.”

-Imani Randolph, Editorial and Market Assistant 

“Don’t be in such a rush to be out of college while you’re still in it. You’re only in college for a short while, and learning is a luxury. Speaking of which: take classes about subjects you may never ‘need’ for your career, but are likely to teach you about something you might never otherwise have the opportunity to learn in this kind of dedicated-learning environment again.”

– Amelia Diamond, Head of Creative

“Everything you’re doing here will be useful in one way or another whether you realize it now or not. So get your head down and do your best, it will be worth it. Also listen to mum, she has really good advice about prepping for exams and also meditating (which is going to be really cool in about 12 years).”

-Jasmin Aujla, Director of Partnerships 


On Young Adulthood

“Don’t forget that at the core of your joyful naiveté, which will wither as the gap between college and real life grows wider, is your perception of the world as a place where people are inherently good, not evil. Accept it as an ideal, but never stop fighting for it.”

-Leandra

 “Don’t stop reading just because you aren’t assigned to read.”

-Elizabeth

“After graduation, I started a mobile vintage clothing shop with my sister, traveled to see friends, and then settled in New York where I started three jobs (including this one!). I wish I hadn’t let my stress of not ‘settling’ put a damper on the adventures I had the privilege of embarking on.”

-Starling

“You’re allergic to gluten, you just don’t know it yet, but you feel pretty bad after you drink that beer, don’t you? Sweet ignorant child, please listen to your body!!!”

– Patty

“I’ll gladly receive this advice now!!!”

– Imani

“Start meditating NOW!”

– Amelia


On Career

“It is just one dimension of a much richer, fuller life. It has the power to fulfill you or to drain and the only thing that makes this different is how you approach it.”

– Leandra

“You should remain creative always. No matter what job you’re doing, find time to paint. The things you do outside of work are just as important for your career and self-worth as that which you do at work.”

– Elizabeth

“Ask to get coffee (tea, in my case) with anybody working in any of the career paths you’re interested in. I’ve learned something spectacular from every single person I’ve ever asked to sit down and share a warm beverage with.”

– Starling

“Two things: first, your gut knows; practice hearing it. Second: people matter to you most. Invest your career in and with good-hearted people who have things to teach you.”

– Patty

“I don’t have much of a career YET, but I’d say I’ve gotten as far as I have by being unafraid to ask questions. I asked for Harling’s email via Instagram DM, and that’s how I started at MR. I asked for a photographer’s opinion on my digitals and that’s how I got signed to my modeling agency. Of course, there’s the chance that you’ll be ignored, but there’s also the chance that your question is the first step into a new opportunity.”

– Imani

“It’s okay to graduate and have zero idea what the hell you’re supposed to do next. And it’s okay if you’re doing something and are pretty sure it’s not the right thing. It’s okay for your first job to not be the dream job, or a cool job, or a sexy job. It’s not a death sentence to your young career. It just means that you’re putting one foot on the first path of a loooooong journey. (Also, I’d give myself a courtesy heads up that as I get older, I use journey without irony far more than I ever imagined I might.)”

– Amelia


On Romance

“Meaningful connection can be stricken with even someone you are not romantically interested in pursuing. We all have stories that are worth being heard — be willing to listen, you will learn so much about the world. And possibly, even, that it doesn’t revolve around you. (This will be relieving.)”

-Leandra 

“As charming as having a box in the back of my closet of every love letter correspondence I’ve ever been a part of (very To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) was, I could have saved a lot of heartache just by preventing myself from trying to diminish or hide my feelings. I should have realized that nobody was over analyzing my relationships as much as I was.”

-Starling

“You are more resilient than you think, go ahead and say your thoughts and feel your feelings. Care more about eliminating ‘what-ifs’ and less about getting hurt. The right people will meet you there, trust.”

-Patty

“I’ll gladly receive this too!!!”

-Imani

“Have fun, be safe. -> This is my favorite dating advice to give everyone, always. Advice to myself specifically: Having the ‘what are we’ talk early on when you know what you want to be (no rush to bring it up if YOU don’t know yet, though) is an excellent weeding-out process of people who, turns out, definitely do not want to be ‘exclusive,’ which will save you a lot of time, among other things.”

-Amelia


The One Thing You Would Stop Yourself From Doing

“I’d meet myself at 13 or 14 or whatever time it was that I started to feel motivated by the approval of others, sometimes those driven by snark and clique-y-ness, and would do whatever it took to achieve that approval, even if it ran counter to my personal sense of truth. There is nothing so empowering or liberating or self-respecting as looking in the mirror after a long day and feeling so very comfortable with who you were and how you behaved that day.”

-Leandra

“Being mean. Never, ever be mean. Even if the person was mean to you, it’s not right. Also, don’t underage drink. Listen to your freaking mother!!!!”

-Elizabeth

“Don’t wear teal leggings under a floral skirt with a victorian-style puffy-sleeved top and clogs on your first day to your high school campus! Actually, do. It’s all part of the evolution.”

-Starling

“Those airport nachos that gave you food poisoning on your way to Italy. You knew better. You didn’t need to learn that lesson.”

-Patty

“Drinking wine, vodka, and champagne all in one night — alcohol poisoning sucks.”

-Imani 

“Ergh. There’s a million and one. But also, I’m a sick believer (retroactively only, because it never soothes nor proves true in the moment) in ‘things happen for a reason.’ I do wish I spent less time worrying, because I often look back and realized things turned out okay. But telling myself to stop worrying never worked once throughout my entire life, so not sure it would resonate with baby me.”

-Amelia

“Don’t let meaningful relationships fizzle out due to distance. When you move to New York, don’t let your relationships with people back home slide, make an effort to keep in touch and be involved in their lives even when you’re busy living yours. Those friends are important and will keep you grounded — they’re also the people that will always be there for you when things mess up so make sure you’re there for them too.”

-Jasmin


A Compliment to Your Younger Self

“Your lightheartedness (and ability to spin a pair of jean shorts 55 different ways, truly) is admirable.”

-Leandra

“I love your hair! It’s gonna get way curlier so appreciate it now! If that’s not a compliment, you are so capable of so many things, just don’t forget that.”

-Elizabeth

“I’m really glad that I studied the heroin epidemic at prisons while I was in college. At the time, I worried that my work wasn’t going to connect to my future career path and that it was going to hinder my job prospects. I now realize that studying something I was so passionate about ultimately furthered a skill set that has been applicable to each task I’ve taken on since.

-Starling

“So happy with the humans you surround yourself with and how you’ve poured yourself into your people and relationships. Also proud of the ones you’ve walked away from. It’s a lifetime practice, kudos to you for starting early, little P.”

-Patty

“This one goes out to Minimani (get it?): Thanks for getting a leg up on young professionalism by way of dressing like Whoopi Goldberg and deciding that you were going to move to New York City to work in fashion at age seven. I wouldn’t be here without you.”

-Imani

“Hey, it’s me, older-you! You’re doing great!”

-Amelia

“Remember when you first moved to New York completely alone and went to IKEA on your own and physically lifted a bed and mattress onto your trolley without any help? That’s the first time I thought, Damn Jas, you’ve got this! Fast forward four years and you actually built a life here, made friends, found a career that you’re both passionate about and good at. You did it! You’re doing it! High five!”

-Jasmin


And a Final Word From Haley

“I think one of the most haunting realizations of my twenties has been that, after you’ve absorbed the basic tenets of being responsible and safe, the best advice in the world is useless until you learn it the hard way. A life of avoiding mistakes isn’t actually in the cards for anyone, nor should it be, as that’s no life at all. As a person very much invested in avoiding regrets and doing the right thing, this realization has proved to be quite the paradox. But the older I get, the more acutely aware I am that all of us are just learning the same lessons as previous generations did over and over again and acting like its novel or new. That alone should be proof that most lessons just need to be learned anew. Some things cannot be passed on, even if we wish they could. I guess that’s an ironic thing to say given this very prompt. Still: If I could go back and tell myself anything, it would be to encourage myself to dare to carve my own path, and look for answers less often from others and more from the makings (and mistakings) of my own life. There’s something to be said for the hoarding of wise words — some people’s brilliant phrasing of things can really stick with you and shape how you think — but nothing is a better teacher than the radical act of stirring your own pot and clocking the ripple effects. Those are the lessons that change you forever.”


What would current you say to you from the past? 

Photos by Caroline Greville-Morris/Redferns and Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images. 

Nora Taylor

Nora Taylor

Nora Taylor is the Editor of Clever. She can frequently be found knocking things over in the greater New York City area.

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