"Now I'm Paying The Consequences": 23 Significant Lessons Older Adults Want Younger Folks To Learn Before It's Too Late

Sometimes, some good advice goes a long way, especially if it's coming from people who've been in your position before. Recently, older adults from the BuzzFeed Community chimed in and shared the advice they think younger generations should hear, and it's so enlightening. Here are some of the responses that just might make you rethink your outlook on life:

1."I wish I'd figured out sooner that people don't care what you're doing or what you look like nearly as much as you think they do. Most people are worried about themselves and their own issues, not whether your nails are done or if you've gained weight or aren't working."

Person in a robe stretching in a kitchen.
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2."Never wed on a whim. 28 days after my husband's and my first date, we got married. Three decades later, we're only doing so well because we allow each other the illusion that the other is in charge."


3."I wish I'd known that love is not how it's portrayed in movies. I thought it was supposed to be turbulent and dramatic, but no. Love is kind, happy, and gentle. If your love interest is unkind and you're not having fun and glowing, they are not the one for you, and it's never going to magically get better with that person. It's better to move on."

Two people affectionately touching foreheads by a lakeside at dusk, sharing a moment of connection

—Ildi, 69, Colorado

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4."Not only should you stop comparing your successes (or failures) with others, but you shouldn't be making others feel guilty for talking about the bad things happening to them. Just because you're struggling, it doesn't invalidate the struggles of others because you think you're 'struggling more.' Just like there will always be someone who has it better than you in this world, there's someone who also has it worse. Focus on yourself and stop worrying about others, because unless you're privy to every single part of their life, you don't know half of what's going on."


5."This isn't life-altering advice, but please take care of your skin."

Elderly person applying makeup with a brush, standing in front of a mirror, embodying self-care
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6."Value your education and aim for success. When I was younger, I acted like I had no care in the world, and now I'm paying the consequences."


7."When you get upset with your mom, talk or respond to her like she is someone else's mom. You will be kinder, and she'll be thankful for it. Moms aren't walls that you can throw stones at; they deserve a lot more than you can imagine."

Woman and man smiling and embracing in a home kitchen


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8."Stay away from toxic people. If they happen to be a family member or someone you have to work with, keep your distance and set good boundaries."


9."YOU need to be the most important person in your life! It doesn't matter if you're married, have children, if you're a caretaker, etc. You need to prioritize yourself! It's okay to tell people no — no one is entitled to an explanation. Don't set yourself on fire to keep others warm. It's not being selfish; it's practicing self-love. Without it, you'll eventually burn yourself out and be of no use to anyone."

A woman in a knit sweater smiling with eyes closed, embracing herself in cozy bedroom setting
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10."My daughter told me that the best advice I'd ever given her was to 'Step away from the clusterfuck.' I was referring to steering clear of problematic traffic situations, but she told me it works for many aspects of life."


11."Go to the doctor if you need to. Don't just think you'll be okay, because it'll be a lot easier if something is caught sooner than later! My late uncle lasted six months after his cancer diagnosis before we sadly lost him, but if he'd gone to the doctor much sooner, we might've had more time with him. Now, he has two beautiful granddaughters and a grandson on the way, who he sadly will never get to meet. Speaking of my uncle, guess what? It's okay for men to cry, too. Yes, real men DO cry!"

Elderly man covering his face with his hands, conveying emotion or distress

—Carlie, 40, England

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12."Live within your means and save money for the future. Also, cherish the time you have with your loved ones. Life is fleeting, and our time here is finite. You never know when it will be the last time you see someone."


13."Nobody's tombstone reads, 'I really wish I'd spent more time at the office.'"

Overhead view of a person using a laptop with a notepad and a cup in hand, on a desk with various items
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14."Plan for retirement, but life has no guarantees. Don't put everything off because there isn't enough time and money — that time may not come, and you might regret not spending the time and money you did have with your loved ones."

—Kathy, 63

15."If you feel like you should give a word of encouragement to someone, or maybe you know something that could help them with work, life, or anything else, don't be afraid to offer it to them. Try not to put it off, thinking you'll tell them later. I regret not doing this. I always think that maybe there have been problems that could've been prevented had I communicated properly."

Two individuals embracing affectionately by a window with sunlight coming through

—Joshua, 52

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16."I wish I'd learned how important it is to heed the subtle hints and red flags people give off. I chose to ignore them because I desired successful outcomes and had high expectations from others. When people show you who and what they are, believe them without hoping or thinking they'll change their ways for you. Always be on guard and listen to your intuition and gut feelings because they will never fail you. If something or someone doesn't feel right or appears too good to be true, remove yourself from the situation and let it go. Forcing or attempting to steer a situation that meets resistance is never a good choice. Being true to myself became an acquired mindset."

—Anonymous, 65

17."Control your thoughts, especially when you're around other people. Negative thoughts can draw negative people to you, just like positive thoughts attract positive people who want to be around you. There's a little song we sing at the retreats I go to, and part of it goes, 'Our thoughts are prayers, and we are always praying.' We are incredible humans who have the power to manifest what we need or desire through our thoughts. You need a path to go through life, so choose your road."

Woman in casual wear with eyes closed and head raised, enjoying fresh air among trees in an urban setting
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18."Be mindful of your inner critic and how you treat yourself. You don't have to be perfect to be okay. Life can be messy at times, so clean up your side of the street and be kind to all beings. Everybody has a story; you are one of eight billion people on this planet. Everybody wants to be happy and secure, so don't take yourself so seriously. We only get one life per customer. The secret is to get out of self and into others."

—Bill, 52, Ohio

19."Try recalling when you remember a stranger, friend, or family member did something awkward or embarrassing. I bet you can't remember many. The same goes for everyone; most people won't care or even remember that thing you did that made you self-conscious. Don't worry or obsess about it because it's likely that no one else is."

Two people joyfully dancing in a kitchen
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20."Don't go into debt with credit cards. You don't need credit to buy something; save as much as you can for what you want. Carrying too much debt is bad for you and your health."


21.Don't rush into marriage. Get to know who you are before inviting someone into your life. Make sure the person you marry has the same values and that you're on the same page and in the same lane. Find the one who makes you belly-laugh, makes you smile, and is a team player when it comes to raising any children you may have. Go into a relationship open-minded and with open eyes; don't lose who you are. Remember the good and change the bad to make life better."

Elderly couple sharing a kiss at a dining table set with cups and dishes


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22."Do not listen to the voice in your head if it's negative. Immediately stop and say what you're thinking out loud in a positive way. You will see your life change overnight. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change."


23.Last but not least: "Make memories. Think about it: When you are talking to a friend or family member, you are constantly saying something like, 'Do you remember...?' Especially when it comes to events, friends, spouses, kids, and grandkids. Everything that you do or say is actually a memory in the making, whether you are with someone or by yourself. Not all memories are good, but the bad ones tend to fade over time. As a grandparent, my memories are of my kids and my grandkids. I see all the similarities between them. I also see a lot of the things that I missed while they were growing up. Memories help us bridge the distance between loved ones, and they are all we have left of loved ones who've passed away. So stop and make some memories because they're all we really have."

Girl and older woman singing into microphones, casual home setting with a TV in the background


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I don't know about you guys, but as a Gen Z'er, I've learned so much! Do you have any advice for younger generations that you think they should know before it's too late? What's something you wish you'd known sooner? Let me know in the comments, or you can anonymously submit using this form!