Let’s face it. At age 18, none of us were the brightest. In fact, despite thinking we knew everything, we hardly knew anything.
Allow me to look back at Year 18 in a funny, yet totally sincere way-
Here are all the things I wish I could tell Ms. 18-year-old Me.
Fashion Versus Finances
Stop. Put down those shoes. Right this very second. No- you don’t need them. What you need to do it put that $45 right into your savings account. Do you even have a savings account? No?! How the heck are you going to be prepared for a disaster?! What do you mean, “What kind of a disaster?” Taxes! A flat tire! A broken HVAC unit! Getting a cavity fixed! Anything can happen! And here you are, debating about whether or not you need one or two pairs of new shoes. The answer is none. You need none. What you need is a savings account and a plan.
Desperation Versus Debt
You selected a college to be close to home- a college you can’t afford, not now and not ever. You don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. You just know that college is what everyone else your age is doing. Stop. Don’t take out that loan. Don’t enroll in those classes or buy those books. Head to the community college, just for two years, and then you can regroup and find the right option, not one that you rushed into because you didn’t want to be left behind when everyone else ran off to their four-year colleges. You will regret this, one day, not-so-far in the future when Sallie Mae greedily takes your hard-earned salary out of your account for the remainder of your 20s.
Love Life Versus Self Love
Samantha, listen to me, and listen to me very closely: you are worthy of so much more than he or any other boy can give you. You may think that you love him, and he loves you, but it’s destroying you and you’re far too young to be tied to such a burden. You need to get out and get right in your own head. Take vacations alone. Go on dates to do things you like by yourself. Smile again. Fall in love with yourself. Don’t take life and love so seriously- for goodness sakes you are eighteen, and there is so much left in this world to explore.
Perfectionism Versus Mental Health
Hey, you’re stressed. There’s a lot going on. I think you should skip class today and head outside. Meet new people, try new food, and figure out how to get it all together tomorrow. I know, I know. Skipping class usually makes you more anxious, rather than less. But listen to me. There will come a day, sooner than you think, where you will be expected to show up for work for nine or more hours a day, five days a week. And there’s no more, “I’m skipping class” allowed. In fact, you’ll wake up many mornings wishing you had skipped more, relaxed while you had the chance, so just trust me on this. Skip.
Adventure Versus Fear
Yes. Fear is the one thing you’ve never let hold you back. You’ve thrown yourself into exploration of cultures, stepping out of your comfort zone, and walking multiple miles in many others’ shoes. I am so proud of you for saying yes to Thailand. To India. To Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and all the other places you’ve explored. I am so proud of you, walking fearlessly down Bangla Road. I am so proud of you, gathering little Sam into your arms, even though he was wasting away. I am so proud of you for dancing your heart out in Klaipeda, having your first legal shot at a bar in Estonia, dancing in the rain in the Red Square. Travel has made you the fearless woman you are today. And I’m so proud that you said yes to saying no to fear.
Being eighteen years old, I made a lot of mistakes. I was dramatic- I cried a lot more than I’d like to admit when I was eighteen. But I think year 18 was the year that I threw myself into self-development, because it was the year of so many different experiences. Leaving high school, moving away to college, leaving my high school sweetheart, traveling for the first time, and overloading my schedule with work, classes, and socializing as much as possible.
I suppose now that I look back at all of the “mistakes” I made, I really needed them. They made me who I am today. I had to hurt, I had to cry and fight my gut on a lot, and I had to make some big mistakes. And if I never did that, then I would never be here.