Recently, one of my friends mentioned that the person she is today is definitely not the person she envisioned she would become when she was 20. This statement made me think a lot about myself and where I thought I wanted to be when I was that age. Since turning 30 last year I have really reflected on my late teens – early 20’s and I have to admit, it feels bittersweet. I honestly wouldn’t change a whole lot, because I feel blessed with the way things have worked out, but there are some things I wish the younger me knew then.
In honor of turning the big 3-0, here are the 10 things I’d tell my 18 year old self…
1.Your parents actually know what they’re talking about
The nagging from your mom about how to properly wash your clothes and the lectures from your dad about trying your hardest and saving your money, quickly go from eye roll-worthy to words to live by. I remember brushing off their advice, and as I look back, it truly could have helped me.This is the guidance I was too stubborn to accept, and if I had the opportunity, I would of paid attention to every word and changed things right then and there. There are so many other “important” things you are worried about at 18 that mom and dad usually get tuned out but they are the experts at life. Unfortunately, I realized this AFTER college!
2. Study, work hard and never dumb yourself down for a guy
There is no substitution for a big brain and the confidence to use your intelligence. I was never the Valedictorian or Top 10% in school but I did take school serious. For me, it was probably more important for athlete purposes since we had to have good grades at all times but school was top priority growing up. I carried this through college but since I was paying for half my college tuition, it became that much MORE important. I did however meet a guy in college that was pretty distracting and school became second. I was noticing my grades were not so great and my priorities were not where they needed to be. I would drop studying to hang with him and ignore school activities for party time.The older you get, the more you’ll realize that intelligence is a quality you’ll want in men and men will want in you. It’s a trait you should want for yourself as well.
Travel rips you out of your comfort zone and breaks you from your shell like nothing else. The world is not the scary and dangerous place the media makes out. It is full of wonder, love and excitement; new friends to be met, and experiences to be had, in all corners of the globe. (In college, I traveled back and forth from Dallas to Cincinnati going home from school but that was about the only traveling I did. I wish I would have explored the world when I was younger.) Book a flight, pack light, and prepare yourself for the most amazing and eye-opening adventures.
4. Make time for your family
Watching those close to you grow old is a very scary process. Make an effort to visit your grandparents on a weekly basis and offer to help with chores around the house. They have sacrificed more than you can ever imagine during your childhood and it’s time to start repaying them for this service, little by little. Spend quality time with your parents, away from the technological distractions of the modern age. Sit around the dinner table and discuss life, what your plans are for the future and what you are passionate about doing.
5. Hold your friends close because you will hold your memories closer
This is real, though it may seem like a dream. It’s your first glimpse of freedom from high school and parents’ rules, and college is almost like a little village where all of your friends live. It will end, and it will end in the blink of an eye. Tell your friends how much you love them now, spend your time running around and doing crazy things and live every moment with them to the absolute fullest. This time will come to an end quickly, and the memories will mean everything to you. Hold on to them.
6. Save 10% of your paycheck and don’t touch it
It’s easy to look back and remember the joys of being broke because you spent all your paycheck on that awesome concert or night out on the town. But, I know the pain of the broken down car that you don’t have the money to fix, the misery of the credit card debt that you can’t pay off and the envy when your friends start buying adult things and you still have your car from high school. I never thought a savings account was important until I had to start paying my own bills. Buy what is important now and put the rest away. Moderation is a good thing, people.
7. You will meet people that will tear you down, lift you up, cut you off and push your limits. Embrace it.
This is the pivitol time of your life that you will learn so much about yourself, about the world, about people and about life. Sometimes, your friends will make you mad or turn against you. Get over it and move on. There will be times when you are down about something or someone and the right person will lift you up. Embrace them. My dance team coach was the most inspirational person I have ever met and to this day, I will always go to her for encouragement. Keep pushing yourself for that next goal, next obstacle or that next step in your life.
8. Ask lots of questions
The greatest ‘adventure’ is the ability to ask questions. Sometimes in the process of inquiry, the search is more significant than the answers. Answers come from other people, from the universe of knowledge and history, and from the intuition and deep wisdom inside yourself. These answers will never surface if you never ask the right questions. Just asking the question, is the biggest step you can make. There is nothing wrong with asking too many questions either. Curiosity is the key to success!
9. Focus on your strengths
Work on your weaknesses, of course, but not in a pointless sort of way. It’s okay if you’re bad at math or biochemistry. Its ok if you can write a 10 page paper about Taylor Swift but are not sure how to pay bills. That is where #8 comes in to play. It’s okay because you’re you. Find what you are good at and challenge yourself to be better at it. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Always be yourself!
10. NEVER GIVE UP
If there is any advise I could give myself or anyone it would be this one! This is probably the one thing I take with me everyday. Despite having faced numerous setbacks, I have always kept going, carrying “Never Give Up, just try one more time” as my motto. The outcome will be more than you ever expected!!!
But above all, laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change. Life is short, yet amazing. Enjoy the ride.
What advise would you give yourself if you could go back? What is one thing you have learned along the way?