Turning Back Time

posted in: Life’s Lessons, Link Up 75 comments


Nearly a year ago, I was honored by Jamie of Chosen Chaos to contribute to her weekly series, If I Could Turn Back Time where I wrote a letter to my 18 year old self. She is celebrating one year of this series with a linkup where everyone who wrote a letter, links up their post. So if you missed it the first time, well, you can read it here! Thank you, Jamie, for the opportunity.


Dear 18-year-old Alison,

Those clothes you used to wear? The ones you saved up so hard for? The ones you look at longingly in the shop window? Clothes don’t make a person, you decide who you are from the inside.

That is not stupid. That is wise.

That boy you’re dating? Your first boyfriend? The one who says he loves you to death? He means it. He does. He loves you so much, he tries to destroy your friend’s car for interfering when you tried to break up with him after 18 months.

That is not love. That is jealousy.

Those hours you put into study? The library books you cart home faithfully? Those notes you so studiously copied and read and re-read? Good on you, applying yourself the way you do. Because you’ll get into the university of your choice, to study the course of your choice.

That is not nerdiness. That is being smart.

Those friends you hang out with? The ones you spend all your waking, non-study hours with? The ones who play cards with you every weekend til the wee hours of the morning? The ones who listened to you talk about your insecurities and fears? They are friends for life. When you’re 35, they’ll be living all over the world and you’ll only talk to them via Facebook, but know that they love you and are there for you.

That is not cheesy. That is genuine. 

Those hopes and dreams you have? The ambitions and drive? The determination not to fail and self-doubt? Hang on to them, they will serve you well for years to come. Believe in yourself. Love yourself. Be yourself and all will be well.


Your older, wiser self


 What would you say to your 18-year old self?

Don’t forget to link up with Galit of These Little Waves and I, from August 13 – 17 (linky closes at 9.00pm Eastern) for Memories Captured. Our sponsor this month is the fabulous Visions in Vinyl, who create gorgeous vinyl decals for your home. Two lucky linkers will win a decal worth $30 each (including shipping)!

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and DrGreene.com. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • August 10, 2012 Asianmommy

    Great post–for me, the take-home point is to be yourself, be proud of who you are, and be kind to others.
    Asianmommy recently wrote…Summer Fun at The Center for GiftedMy Profile

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Be kind to others – yes.

  • August 10, 2012 Poppy

    These are going to be fun to read as I missed a lot of the beginning posts! Isn’t it funny how much power a boy can yield with the words “I love you?” I have a daughter entering high school and this in particular is freaking me out.

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Oh, good luck with that Poppy!

  • August 10, 2012 Stasha

    Even better reading it the second time around. Like reheated lasagna. So true. We dated some interesting people you and I 😉
    Stasha recently wrote…Dear StashaMy Profile

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Hee! I’ve never had someone compare my post to food before. And oh yes, I have dated some interesting people. Some I can’t possibly write about, hehe.

  • August 10, 2012 Sandra

    Wonderful letter, Alison! Wouldn’t we wish for such letters from our older and wiser self every now and then, say, once a decade or so? 😉
    Sandra recently wrote…Dear EpiphanyMy Profile

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Thanks SandraI!!

  • August 10, 2012 Maureen

    I’ve read this before and I love it then, still love it now 😀
    Maureen recently wrote…5 Reasons Why Being Fit RocksMy Profile

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Thank you, Maureen!

  • August 10, 2012 Blond Duck

    As Elle says–you got to have faith in yourself!
    Blond Duck recently wrote…Friday FriendsMy Profile

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Indeed, Miranda!

  • Wonderfull letter. Especially about the friends, I have friends like that, they are among the best.
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…Preparing for a family vacation : cleaning out the freezer/pantry couscousMy Profile

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      They are, indeed.

  • August 10, 2012 Mark

    Great advice and guidance.
    Mark recently wrote…Sit! Good girls!My Profile

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Thank you, Mark.

  • August 10, 2012 thedoseofreality

    I absolutely love this letter and this idea. It is truly so meaningful to put it down on paper, so to speak, because I think it could serve as a good reminder to our children that your life is not defined by high school.
    thedoseofreality recently wrote…Head To Head: The ’80′s EditionMy Profile

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Too true!

  • August 11, 2012 karen

    LOVE THE POST, each time I read your blog I cry, thank you.

    I would tell my 18 yr old self to NOT open a credit card, to NOT listen to what others say about me because they are really just jealous. I would say do what you feel, be who you are, and don’t make exceptions or excuses for who you are. mrs

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Thank you, Karen, for your kind words. And that is good advice!

  • August 11, 2012 Mama and the City

    Oh Facebook! Always to the rescue of friendship.
    Mama and the City recently wrote…If I Could Turn Back TimeMy Profile

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Hah! Indeed!

  • August 11, 2012 Natalie

    I loved this one the first time. And seeing it here again!
    Natalie recently wrote…Essence of Now (August 10, 2012)My Profile

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Natalie!

  • August 11, 2012 Julie

    The boy mistakes are so frustrating. Where do we get that skewed picture of love so early in life?
    Julie recently wrote…If I could turn back time – 18 Again!My Profile

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Because we were dumb? 🙂

  • August 11, 2012 Sandra

    I see you as someone who will always accomplish everything you set out to do, and you will do it well. Now let’s hear more about the asshole who wouldn’t let you break up with him!
    Sandra recently wrote…My kids hate each other!My Profile

    • August 11, 2012 Alison

      Hah!! He was just a poor little boy who thought he was in love. 🙂

  • August 11, 2012 Co-Pilot Mom

    You have some wise words for your younger self. Lovely letter.
    Co-Pilot Mom recently wrote…A Slice of PeaceMy Profile

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      Thank you – wisdom in retrospect 🙂

  • August 11, 2012 Jessica

    I love this. And not just the letter. I also love it because I read it the first time around. We’ve been virtual friends for more than a year?! Oh yes. Yes we have. And if I could tell my 18 year-old self anything it would be (a) you don’t know everything and (b) the world is smaller than you think it is.
    Jessica recently wrote…COMING SOON!My Profile

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      I love that we’ve been friends for over a year too!!! xo

  • August 11, 2012 Laura

    I wish I could tell myself so much. I don’t regret much, I just wish I had the benefit of foresight. Still, I know those things I would tell myself to do differently would have affected the outcome of my life. I likely would never have met Dan. And these kidlets would never be mine. So I think I’ll just let my 18 year old self be. Except to tell her “That guy’s blog you read? The one who is six year’s older and who makes you laugh? He’ll be yours for the rest of your life.” But it was kind of nice to discover that on my own.
    Laura recently wrote…Blissdom Dreams: 5 Reasons Why I NEED to go to BlissDom CanadaMy Profile

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      I love your perspective, Laura!

  • August 11, 2012 AnnMarie

    I missed this the first time around and am so happy to get a chance to read it now. Loved it! Wow…destroyed a car in the name of love? I kind of want to hear that story now.

    I’d tell my 18 year old self that after the guy who you think is the love of your life breaks your heart, you’ll love again. And to let loose once in awhile. Sometimes breaking the rules is okay.
    AnnMarie recently wrote…DisappointedMy Profile

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      The car destroying is a story I won’t be able to tell here 🙂

      Oh yes, let loose, definitely!

  • August 11, 2012 Daddy's in Charge

    We know so little when we are young. It’s great to have life unfold but it would be nice to know how things turn out sometimes.
    Daddy’s in Charge recently wrote…If I Could Turn Back TimeMy Profile

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      It would be nice to know, indeed.

  • August 12, 2012 Kimberly

    Loved it then, love it now. Great advice. So Facebook is for friendships? Not for stalking people? Damn. I’m doing it wrong. 🙂
    Kimberly recently wrote…I Wish Things Were Different…My Profile

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      You can stalk on Facebook of course, just shhhhh 🙂

  • August 12, 2012 Kimberly

    Oh, the wisdom…want to capture it for my son. Want to pour it into his brain. Doesn’t work that way, though, does it?
    Kimberly recently wrote…Just Be Enough: I wish I knew…My Profile

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      Unfortunately…. no 🙂

  • August 12, 2012 another jennifer

    This is great! If only we really could read a letter from our future selves at 18!
    another jennifer recently wrote…Philanthropy Friday: The Thank You ProjectMy Profile

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      That would freak.me.out. 🙂

  • August 13, 2012 annie

    Oh, it is so much fun to do this! I wrote a letter to my 21 year old self right around the time I resigned from my job and it was funny to realize how wrong I’d been about some aspects of life and sad to think 12 years later I was trying to convince myself that the dreams I had at 21 might not all go according to plan.

    Love your advice about the boyfriend!
    annie recently wrote…Performance Gear.My Profile

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      It was fun! I wouldn’t change my decisions when I was 18, but I do wish I was a little more confident in making those decisions.

  • August 13, 2012 Emily

    I would write something very similar to that boyfriend comment and also remind myself not to take myself to seriously. Spoiler Alert: It all works out.
    Emily recently wrote…Fitness Friday: Setting Goals for the School YearMy Profile

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      I’m so glad it worked out! 🙂

  • August 13, 2012 Jessica

    I love this and know I would echo the same words to my 18 year old self.

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Jessica!

  • August 13, 2012 Greta

    Lovely letter. You sound like someone I could’ve hung out with. 🙂
    Greta recently wrote…Project 365: Week 32My Profile

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      I think so too!!

  • August 13, 2012 Katie

    I love this letter and that you can look back with such wisdom.
    Katie recently wrote…The Birdman GrowethMy Profile

    • August 13, 2012 Alison

      Thank you, my friend.

  • August 13, 2012 My Inner Chick

    —Great Post From A Very WISE woman. <3

    If we believe in ourselves….We can TRANSFORM the World. X
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…12 More Very Cool ThingsMy Profile

    • August 14, 2012 Alison

      Yes! We can absolutely!

  • August 14, 2012 Lady Jennie

    I do remember this one. 😉
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…Paris, By CarMy Profile

    • August 14, 2012 Alison

      Yay! 🙂

  • August 14, 2012 Charlotte

    Great post, Alison. You are so incredibly wise beyond your years.

    And I can SOOO relate to #1. It’s funny what we interpret as love when we haven’t really had the experience to grasp that concept yet.
    Charlotte recently wrote…fragileMy Profile

    • August 14, 2012 Alison

      18 and stupid, right? 🙂

  • August 14, 2012 Erin

    Such a great post. Isn’t it amazing how differently things are as an adult? At times I would love to go back and ‘change’ choices that I made, but on the other hand those choices, while they weren’t always the best, helped to shape who I am.

    ~Great post 🙂
    Erin recently wrote…I’m Still HereMy Profile

    • August 14, 2012 Alison

      Yes, exactly! And thank you 🙂

  • August 14, 2012 Tonya

    Oh, if we only knew then what we know now.

    Tonya recently wrote…The Pledge Of AllegianceMy Profile

    • August 14, 2012 Alison

      But life might have turned out different, yes? 🙂

  • August 15, 2012 Jamie

    Time flies, yes? Almost a year ago! Thank you for this letter then and for putting it back out there now!
    Jamie recently wrote…thank youMy Profile

    • August 16, 2012 Alison

      Oh yes, time does fly! (except for when I was pregnant, hah!)

  • August 15, 2012 Ado

    I love who you were and who you are, a fashionable intelligent well, nerd who isn’t a nerd. Fantastic. (-:
    Ado recently wrote…If I Could Turn Back TimeMy Profile

    • August 16, 2012 Alison

      Aw, thank you Ado. I love you too. xo

  • August 15, 2012 MommaKiss

    It’s funny how my friends at 18 are barely in my life now…just the way life turned for me – but for Mr. Kiss, he’s got amazing friends from those days and when we get to spend time together, I get to witness how great that kind of friendship is- to have that history together. Love it!
    MommaKiss recently wrote…if I could turn back timeMy Profile

    • August 15, 2012 Alison

      Ooh, kinda the same for me! The husband has friends from way back when. Me, I have a few here and there, but most of my old friends are REALLY old friends. Like from when we were 7 or something. 🙂

  • August 17, 2012 Mirjam

    I remember that this letter was one of the first letters of this prompt that I read, it had me thinking for days.
    What had I learned over time? What could I see in hindsight?
    I especially love the part about your friends, how blessed are you!
    Mirjam recently wrote…A time to bloomMy Profile

    • August 17, 2012 Alison

      It means so much to me that my words can touch someone and make them think 🙂
      I do have fab friends!

  • August 22, 2012 Galit Breen

    Oh you are a wise one, aren’t you? Love this letter, and all of the lessons embedded within!
    Galit Breen recently wrote…Watching, and SeeingMy Profile

    • August 22, 2012 Alison

      Wise, only in retrospect and hindsight 🙂

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