Do you ever get that feeling that if you had only known what you know now, back then, you would have sailed through life? Me too… every year. Having said that I am an advocate of making my own mistakes, and enjoying every part of life for what it is. I was also lucky enough to be given some good advice when I was that age, some that I can dispense now. Being 18 is a strange time. At 18 we are definitely not a child any more, and we insist we are fully fledged adults, but something has not quite clicked yet. So here are 10 things that someone told me, or that I wish someone had told me, when I was 18:
- That I don’t know everything there is to know.
It certainly felt like I knew everything at the time. My world seemed like the right world, and everyone else was against it. I was still a stroppy teenager looking back at it. Probably someone did tell me this when I was 18, many times over, and most likely I didn’t listen. We don’t know the half of it when we are 18.
- That relying on someone else is not a long term solution to inevitable responsibility.
I’m sure people had varying degrees of responsibility when they were 18. I had little, as I was still at college; no job, no kid, no wife. With no responsibility to speak of, it is easy to continue to rely on someone else, when we should be learning how to be independent.
- That you can get away with much more when you are 18 than you can at 25.
So, we have had our naughty kid phase, and our grouchy teenager phase, and now we are young adults. We start to follow the rules more. Still it would be nice if someone told me straight; “you can still get away with being a bit off the wall son, people don’t perceive 18 year olds the same as they do people in their 20’s.”
- How to handle money.
I am still terrible now. Back then I was useless, and saving was definitely out of the question. The younger we learn to handle money the better. It doesn’t have to mean taking it all too seriously, but I didn’t learn until I moved out to university. And then I learned the hard way; by struggling for my rent and food. Some comprehension of money by 18 is a good idea.
- To Explore!
The education system, in my humble opinion, does not teach us to explore. We learn cold, hard facts, and theory. Critical thinking and game playing take a back seat, as do exploring maverick ideas. When we were children we would always want to explore, push our boundaries, and find a secret den at the bottom of the garden. We can lose this childish exploration, but it can be re-affirmed; Explore everything that intrigues you. Experiment. Find your boundaries. Break them. Find the den at the bottom of the garden in your adult life.
- That mistakes are a part of life.
When I was 18 mistakes and rejections felt like the end of the world. They can damage our self esteem because we do not yet understand them to be facts of life. I wish I was taught that mistakes are actually valuable, that they build character, and help us to grow and learn through experience.
- That other people’s opinions don’t matter so much.
I used to really feel the pressure of other people’s opinions and impressions. As I got older I learned that they belonged to the other person not to me, and that they were unavoidable anyway. Everyone will always have an opinion. Fudge it. What really matters is to do what you want, and think what you think, and be comfortable in in. That would have been nice to know at 18.
- That it is okay to walk away.
I feel like a lot of emphasis is placed on sticking things out, seeing them through. I agree we should stick to our aims if that is what we want, but is it not equally courageous to walk away from something? If something in our life is making us unhappy then we should be encouraged to walk away; whether it be education, a job, a partner or friend, or a place. Moving on is a big part of life, and opens up as much opportunity as sticking it out. As an 18 year old I felt I was just going through the motions with no real say in my own life. If I had been told it was okay to walk away, I probably would have taken a less long winded route to get where I am now.
- That doing what you love will make you happy.
It seems obvious doesn’t it? But I don’t know if I was ever told simply to find what I love, and do it. Instead I was told about the various routes I could take, and what would get me where, as if life is something of a mono-rail. Life isn’t a monorail and actually what we come to realize is that all we ever wanted was to do what we loved. It is not too late to do what we love.
- Never to regret.
Here we are, getting all nostalgic, and wondering how things could have been different. So my last thing that I wish someone had told me, is never to regret. It is what it is. What’s done is done, and it can never be changed, it can only be learned from. Who we were at the time is different to who we are now, and the experiences we needed were different too. We were never to know what we know today, that’s what life is; a constant development, from being a child, to being a stroppy 18 year old, to becoming an adult.