Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Life #Loss by Staci Troilo

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today author Staci Troilo shares her thoughts on the prompt…..

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now by Staci Troilo

Ciao, amici! Sally, thank you for asking me to participate in this segment and welcoming me here today.

I’d have submitted something sooner, but I couldn’t settle on what to say. Some of the advice I’d give my younger self is intensely personal and wouldn’t benefit anyone other than me. Then there were other words of wisdom I considered, but they’re so common… I’m pretty sure everyone knows those lessons. (I just wish I’d learned them sooner.)

This is my fourth attempt. I decided if I couldn’t nail it this time, I wasn’t sending anything. (And yes, I recognize the ridiculousness of an editor not being able to revise her own work into something usable.) For better or worse, I was satisfied enough with this one to send it. I hope it’s neither too specific nor too generic.

Here we go.

When we’re born, we’re basically little ids. (In that, I agree with Freud.) There’s no use in me offering advice to my infant self, as I wouldn’t understand it or follow it. Babies simply want what they want, and no amount of reason will make them understand they can’t necessarily have it (or have it that instant). At least at that age, what we want is easy to obtain. We’re hungry, we cry, we get fed. We’re cold, we cry, we get swaddled.

As we get older, we start to develop a conscience. It’s still incredibly difficult to reason, but we’re learning right from wrong and therefore, we’re learning priorities. Mine at that age were simple. I desperately wanted things like a picnic at the park, a trip to the library, a specific toy, or a visit with family. When I didn’t get my way, there was disappointment, ranging from a mild pout to a full-blown tantrum. But I learned pretty quickly that what my parents said was what would be. That meant my priorities, though basic, needed to take a backseat to those of my mom and dad.

As I got older, my desires took on more weight. I’m pretty sure I uttered variations of “If I don’t get X, I’ll just die!” several times a day, where X was anything from a good grade to a specific article of clothing to the affections of my latest crush. Hormones make teenagers completely illogical (and often overdramatic), and everything seemed like a life-or-death situation. Some of what was going on was, in fact, important. A few instances ended up being seminal moments. But now I know most things very much weren’t, though I thought they were at the time.

When I graduated college, I embraced adulthood in all its glory. That meant my concerns had become “grown up” concerns, complete with deep-seated fears of failure in its many forms. I worried about finding the right job, and once I did, I agonized over my performance. The first three jobs I left required two people to replace me because I’d done so much work in those positions. But as I climbed the corporate ladder, I still fretted and feared every little thing in my professional life. And I did the same in my personal life. I bent over backward to please the people most important to me. In so doing, I lost myself and became what other people needed.

I wish I could tell my younger self not to sweat the small stuff. But everything that’s important to us in any given moment seems like the biggest deal of our lives. It’s a matter of perspective, I suppose. In school, getting an A instead of a B seemed like the most crucial thing in the world. (It certainly mattered to my parents.) Ask me how many people these days even ask about my degrees or what university I went to…

That would be no one.

I’m not saying good grades didn’t matter, but they certainly weren’t worth the hours of tears I shed over trigonometry and calculus. And as for being a people-pleaser? There’s nothing wrong with trying to make people happy, especially loved ones, but not at the expense of your own happiness. Certainly not at the expense of your identity.

So where am I going with all this?

We always have wants and desires. We’re born with them, live with them, and will have them until we die. And I’m a firm believer that we should pursue them passionately. But also with reason and prudence.

Hindsight and perspective have taught me not every decision is a dire one, not every tense situation is life-altering, and not being true to myself is costly. Tragic, even.

My advice to my younger self would be to not take life (be it people or situations) so seriously all the time. That old adage about the things that don’t kill you making you stronger? It’s a popular saying because it’s true.

For most of my life, I thought losing something or someone I treasured would be the death of me. And as I suffered one loss after another, I failed to learn that wasn’t true. But a few years ago, I suffered a monumental loss and truly believed the pain would kill me. Even wished for it at one point. But surviving makes you strong. No loss is insurmountable. And if you allow yourself to move past the agony and the shame and the guilt, you’ll be better for it.

At least, I think I am.

I wish I could have told myself all this sooner, but I don’t think I would have listened if I did. I tried to impart this wisdom to my son and daughter, and they didn’t grasp the concept. Maybe I’ll have more luck teaching my grandkid(s), though I suspect it’s a lesson that’s wasted on the young. Could be it’s something we all have to learn on our own.

What I do know is I’m not going to beat myself up over it.

©Staci Troilo 2022

My thanks to Staci for sharing her early years. Also such a poignant reminder that loss is inevitable in our lifetime and yet we can survive stronger and more resilient. I know that she would love to hear from you.

About Staci Troilo

Staci Troilo grew up in Western Pennsylvania writing stories and poetry in her free time, so it was no surprise that she studied writing in college. After receiving creative and professional writing degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, she went on to get her Master’s Degree in Professional Writing, and she worked in corporate communications until she had her children. When they had grown, she went on to become a writing professor, and now she is a freelance writer and editor.

Staci is a multi-genre author. Her fiction is character-driven, and despite their protests, she loves to put them in all kinds of compromising or dangerous situations.

You can find out more about her on her website. Staci Troilo

Books by Staci Troilo

One of the reviews for Between the Vines

Mae Clair 5.0 out of 5 stars A fun and breezy romantic story  Reviewed in the United States on March 16, 2022

Elena is a wedding planner who doesn’t believe in love thanks to the jerks who have been sniffing around her door since high school. Aaron is her cousin Rick’s longtime friend, a cop who’s recently been dumped by his fiancée, Heather.

Heather is now engaged to Jarod, a one-time friend of Rick, until he tried to take advantage of Elena. Sound like a romantic merry-go-round? Oh, just wait until the complications/fun begins!

From the start, the underlying attraction between Elena and Aaron is clear, but several obstacles stand in their way—foremost, Heather, who decides she was hasty in leaving Aaron once she sees him take down a robbery suspect. This woman is the pinnacle of self-centered and shallow. Troilo writes her in such a way that the moment she appears in a scene, you cringe. Heather is a character you love to hate.

But all Troilo’s characters are well developed. Elena is a walking bundle of doubt buried under a core of outer strength. Aaron seesaws between exasperation and attentiveness. Poor guy has his work cut out for him, but bring out the pom-poms because you’ll be cheering for him and Elena from their very first spark of chemistry.

This is a fun novella with snappy dialogue, perfectly paced scenes, and breezy writing. It leaves you with a warm feeling and a happily-ever-after smile. All three Keystone Couples stories are superb, but I think this clever gem might just be my favorite. 

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK –Follow Staci: GoodreadsBlog: Staci Troilo WordPress – Website: Staci TroiloTwitter@stacitroilo –


Thanks for joining us today and it would be great if you could share Staci’s guest post… Sally.


173 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Life #Loss by Staci Troilo

  1. “In so doing, I lost myself and became what other people needed.” … I can so relate! I wasted too many years trying to please everyone but myself. I agree that it takes age and experience to really grasp this sort of advice.

    Great post and advice, Staci. Hugs 💕🙂

    Sally, thanks so much for sharing this wonderful post. Hugs 💕🙂

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I’m sorry it took me so long to submit this to you, Sally, but thanks so much for allowing me to participate. And for the plug for my latest release. You’re the best! Hugs. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think many of us can relate to losing ourselves to become what other people think we should be. Add to that when we are children peer pressure makes us want to be like everyone else. Everyone is unique and we should be ourselves, not try to fit a mold.

    Great words of wisdom today, Staci. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  4. “Being what someone else wants you to be,” sounds just like show biz and in particular the music industry. I can certainly vouch for that. I guess we all learn the hard way, Staci. Great post. Thanks for sharing your story. Hugs
    Reblogged on Improvisation – “The Art of Living”

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Loved the photos, Staci – and the content is thought-provoking!
    I picked up the same line as Harmony about becoming ‘what other people needed’ and I think it’s something that particularly touches on our older generation who were brought up to be good wives and mothers and peacemakers. I agree that the advice you’ve accumulated is sadly wasted on the young. I remember being told, when a romance fell apart, that there were plenty of other fish in the sea – it didn’t help. I’m so sorry about your monumental loss and the hurt it caused, but it sounds as if you’ve come through the trauma more resilient and accepting of yourself.
    Another powerful and moving addition to your wonderful series, Sally. ♥♥

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well said Staci 🤗. No pain/loss is insurmountable and getting through it does make us stronger. If I could have given my younger self advice, it would have been to stay a kid as long as you can and don’t get into a serious relationship until you are much older. I was determined to grow up too fast and way too soon – that is my one thing I wish someone that I listened to had given me advice against. Excellent post, Sally!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Such a thought-provoking post, Staci. It’s so easy to lose ourselves in service to and trying to please others. I think women are more prone to this than men but I may be wrong about that. Your words touched me deeply. The pain of loss doesn’t kill us, even though it feels as if it will. While we continue through this journey of life pursuing our passions, as you say, it is so important that we know who we are and stay true to ourselves all the time. I also have to say your baby picture looks a heck of a lot like baby Luna. 🙂 Great post! Thank you, Sally, for hosting this wonderful series.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. What a great post and very thought provoking.
    I totally agree “My advice to my younger self would be to not take life (be it people or situations) so seriously all the time.” I know I can be way too serious and take things too deeply.
    As to imparting knowledge to grand-children, I have one grandson and we certainly do fun things at the moment.
    Laughing and singing silly songs (in a class at school I can be the same at times!) being ourselves and exploring the world.
    Not serious but certainly fun.
    (Well I suppose until he grows up?)
    I definately lost a little bit of myself worrying about what others wanted of me!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I’m so glad you didn’t give up on the post, Staci. So relatable, especially those teenage years that seem so traumatic at the time, and the inevitable big losses that shake us to our bones. I don’t think this is something that “the young” can hear very well. It’s something they learn through experience, part of the human journey. Thanks for sharing part of yours. Another wonderful post, Sally. Hugs to you both.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. What an excellent summation. At my age, I am worrying more and more about losing the few people my life revolves around. You addressed that in your final “What’s this all mean”. That is comforting. And your advice to your younger self–to not sweat the small stuff–I would bet sweating it gave you your grit for later years. Well written, Staci.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I can understand struggling to come up with the advice to give your younger self. It’s hard to know how much, some of the things you did, contributed to who you are today. Some things we seem to have to learn the are way. I’m glad you answered the question – I enjoyed reading this,

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Wow, this was a powerful piece, Staci. “No loss is insurmountable. And if you allow yourself to move past the agony and the shame and the guilt, you’ll be better for it.” These words resonated with me big time. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom. Thank you, Sally! xo

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Thank you, Staci, for sharing so deeply. Through the glimpses of your life, each of us can understand our life a little better. Your wisdom and beauty provide a beacon of Light. 🤗 Thank you, Sally, for inviting Staci to your wonderful site. What a gift!💕

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I’m so glad you kept with the post, Staci. Your advice to yourself is excellent. It makes me wonder why I wouldn’t listen to my older self as well. seems youth loves the trial and error process. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thank you for sharing your journey Staci, all youngsters have their issues and they learn from their experiences… life is like that but none accept the fact. Shackles of Self-righteousness prevail each time we hear an advice! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I don’t think you give yourself enough credit. Even though you were young, you had your convictions. Did you cave to pressure? Doesn’t everyone? I know I did.

    For me, I don’t know that I would want to change anything. What happened in the past made me the person I have grown into today. If there is one thing I wish my younger self had done, was to write down all the stories that my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and older cousins shared with us. Memory is only so good, and I know that I don’t remember them the way they were told to me. the stories they shared let me know just how strong they were and how strong I could be.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Wonderful, sage advice, Staci! I spent too many years trying to keep everyone happy at my own expense. As for taking things too seriously I had to deal with my perfection idea and had to learn the hard way not everything so is important. When my husband says he wishes he could go back and live in our good youthful times, I say not me, I prefer what I’ve become. Thanks for your insights.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. It took two people to replace each job you left. I can do relate to this, Staci. I was so critical in my mind to the people who got paid for doing the minimum. I always did two or three full time equivalent tasks. I put stress on myself. So my advice to my daughter was that, if she could afford it, do one thing at a time.
    I love all of your photos. They’re precious. 😍
    Thank you so much for this series, Sally. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I am with Miriam when she said that she loved your photos. Staci – a profound reflection that captures the angst as well as the wonderful moments of acceptance and understanding. Thank you again, Sally for hosting these important discussions.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Life. It’s something we have to experience to learn. For example, telling a child not to touch a hot stove or they’ll burn their hand. Usually they have to tempt the fates to see what happens. Then they learn. And congrats on the great review for book 3 which I look forward to. Just finished book 2 and loved it. That’s why hindsight is always 20/20 🙂 Hugs to both xx

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Great post, Staci. I think most women over a certain age were people pleasers and often became what others wanted. This is great advice and I enjoyed reading this post. I have Between the Vines to read. I enjoyed the first two, so I need to make time to read this one, as I am sure I will enjoy it as well. This is a great series, Sally.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. There is so much wisdom in your words, Staci. I believe we learn our lessons when we are meant to learn them. They arrive in our understanding when they are most needed. Too soon, and we’d not get the full scope of what life is teaching us. We need seasoning, a certain amount of years behind us, moments of clarity that come only with experience. To change even one day of our past would alter who we are today in some way. At least that’s my belief. We must stumble through the dark valleys before we can scale those lofty peaks–and appreciate them. Thanks for sharing your story, Staci. And thank you for this incredible series, Sally.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I think there’s no timetable for when we learn lessons. Some people spend their entire lives repeating the same mistakes. I believe most of us have been guilty at some point of worrying so much about pleasing someone else that we don’t pay close enough attention to our own needs.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. This so resonates with me. “I wish I could tell my younger self not to sweat the small stuff”. When I think of the time I wasted sweating the small stuff. Sigh. But at the time it seemed like big stuff, I guess. A great take on the topic, Staci. You were such a cutie. xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Not sure how cute I was. (My siblings told me I looked like a monkey, but I guess primates can be cute.) I appreciate the compliment, though.

      I think we all think our current issues are the biggest issues in the world. But we fail to put them in context while we’re experiencing them. Every time I go through something difficult, I look back and am astounded that I found earlier problems so epic. It seems to be a lesson that takes years to finally learn.

      Thanks, Darlene.

      Liked by 2 people

  25. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – June 27th – July 3rd 2022 – Chart Hits 1998, Roberta Flack, Podcast Story, #Waterford 1930s, Reviews, Guest Posts, Health and Humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  26. This is a beautiful, heart-wrenching post, Staci. It’s true, many young people live life full of roller-coaster highs and desperate lows, letting common sense fly out the window. It took me well into my forties before I finally grasped the concept of if it’s not life or death, it doesn’t matter.
    We put too much pressure on ourselves and it’s our peace and happiness that pays the price. I’m glad you’re in a better place now {{hugs}}

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Very wise words, Staci. It feels very appropriate to my life as well, although yes, I am sure I was told similar things when I was younger, and I only got to appreciate them much later in life. But no harm in trying!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Wise words, Staci. I think only time and mileage can make people understand this. Enjoyed seeing your pics (look at all that hair when you were born!), and I’m not surprised at all it took two people to replace you in your jobs. Goes back to the cloning theory.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Thank you for this fascinating series, Sally.
    Thank you, too, Staci for a glimpse into your interesting past. I was born in 1932, and the mores of the times were very different to those of today, and how lucky you were, depended on your parents and circumstances. Nevertheless, that desire to please, seems a fairly common one. I was shy but friendly, while over-sensitive at times. Finding myself an evacuee at seven (WW2) and living in three different parts of the UK was hugely influential to my emotional make-up and outlook, but it taught me to be stoic (despite the curse of blushing…) That anxiety to please can be crippling! Looking back, it seems true that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger! But love was never in short supply, and despite my sometimes dramatic… teens, they were pure magic as the war ended and we were spared as a family and I lapped up all the glamour and excitement. What a preparation for the life ahead, with all its highs and lows! And, a huge plus, the love of reading and writing was born out of homesickness and loneliness, so what a result…I loved all your photographs, Staci, and wish you the very best of good fortune with all your writing endeavours. Cheers! xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Joy and your wonderful life has been packed full of experiences and adventures and still more to come I am sure. Hope your weather is cooling down. Here in Ireland we had some warm days but offset but onshore breezes and some cloud cover. We have had two days of rain and the lawn is still green.. Love to you both ♥

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks again, Sally. Pleased to hear you have a few breezes…It’s certainly a blessing to live nearer to the Med. It must be stifling inland! I can see how busy you still are. Good luck with the house clearance and purchase. Exciting, if hard work… Love Joy xx

        Liked by 2 people

  30. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! – Guest Round Up – Final Part – Richard Dee, John W. Howell, Staci Troilo, Annette Rochelle Aben, Hugh Roberts, M. J. Mallon, Judith Barrow | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  31. Hi Sally, I don’t know how I came to miss this post featuring Staci. I found her words and advice very interesting. In many ways, Staci’s work and family life have mirrored my own and I’ve also had to learn that you sometimes have to put your own needs first.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Thank you, Sally, for sharing this post from Staci. I think we all learn to deal with what heartache and suffering life gives us. We do grow stronger and have to deal with the hurt and toss it aside so it won’t fester. I wish you well, Staci. Stay strong, girl! I purchased the first book in your series, Type and Cross. I look forward to reading it. Take care. Hugs to you both! Xx

    Liked by 2 people

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