Yes, I already know what you’re probably thinking. This is might one of the most cliché blog post titles out there. Almost every milestone seems to have one, “21 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Was 21”, “50 Life Tips at 50”, and so on. I won’t lie to you—this post is exactly what it is made out to be. Turning 18 comes with a slew of new responsibilities and opportunities. It also has reminded me that being 18 is not a free-for-all. This morning alone, I have been reprimanded several times over wanting to get a tattoo, informed that I now get to go to “big-girl jail” on numerous occasions, and bombarded by endearing, yet embarrassing, birthday singing for minutes on end. For as much as things really do change with being 18, I’ve accepted that rules still exist, curfew is a curfew, and being legal holds more weight than just some letters strung together and an appealing idea. Here are 18 things I have learned by the time I turned 18:
- Friendships take work – it is impressive if you can find that one friendship where you completely click. There have been scenarios where I’ve learned the hard way that to have a solid friendship both sides are required to put in effort. Communication is key. A friendship with no communication is like two ships at sea with no GPS—hazardous and doubting.
- Whatever your passion is, do it with pride, confidence, and determination – there is no reason not to be proud of what you love to do. If you have found your passion at any moment in your life, serve to inspire others by showing your commitment and enthusiasm. It will speak volumes to those around you.
- Morals are important; don’t sacrifice any detail that doesn’t make you comfortable – I’ve been told many times that I’m “too picky’. What does that even mean? Quoting Cher from Clueless, “You see how picky I am about my shoes, and those only go on my feet.” Never give up values that ring true to you because of the opinion or pressure from anyone else.
- It’s a small world, find the value in making connections early on – somehow it seems everything and everyone you meet loops back together at some point. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone you’re interested in getting acquainted with because you never quite know the amount of doors just beyond the horizon that can be opened.
- Everything happens for a reason – I am a firm believer in karma and always have been. Coping with situations, good or bad, is simpler because I put trust into the force behind it.
- Believe in second chances, everyone deserves a moment to restore a mistake – holding grudges was always an easier way for me to put up barriers in front of people who had let me down. Approaching the healing process from a different perspective has allowed me to gain respect for those who once hurt me.
- Self-worth is in no circumstances defined by a number – I engrained the idea that self-worth was solely numbers into my head and by the end up middle school, I felt so emotionally ripped up because of unattainable standards I tried to force myself to achieve. Self-worth is defined by your creativity, determination, passion, love, and so so much more.
- At the end of the day, your parents are always your number one fans – as much as it seems that parents only ever nag and force you to eat restaurant leftovers, they really are the backbone in everything you pursue. They give so much and ask for little in return. It never hurts to remind them how much they mean to you.
- Really try to get some sleep – as a high school senior, I’ve set impressive personal records on how little sleep I can get in a night and still be somewhat functional the next day, in addition to pumping caffeine into my nerves every two hours. Sleep really works wonders and is constantly overlooked as a solution to so many emotional, physical, and social struggles.
- Don’t settle – one of my biggest pet peeves is knowing I half-assed something when I should have worked harder. Whether it is a homework assignment, workout, or connecting with an old friend, put in the effort to complete it fully not just based on how you’re feeling at the moment.
- Teachers aren’t out to get you – again, as a high school senior I have had my fair share of teachers both good and bad. Regardless of teaching style or content or test difficulty, no teacher wants to see you fail. Reach out to them if you’re struggling, they don’t enjoy seeing you having a tough time either.
- Don’t hesitate to remove anyone from your life who no longer serve you and make you happy – one of the hardest things I have had to sort out is pinpointing toxic relationships. It is healthy to say goodbye and a good habit to get into for when bonds go south. Understanding who I beneficial to you is one of the most revealing and valuable things I have come to terms with lately.
- It is not mandatory, or expected, to be good at every single subject – maybe the idea of a straight-A transcript or feeling the need to like every new concept in chemistry to succeed circulates your mind constantly. Most likely you’re the only one setting those standards so restricted for yourself. Shoot high in academics, but learn to accept your strengths and weaknesses in respective classes. There is no need to stress yourself out to the max over something that is mentally taxing in the first place.
- Stretch your comfort zone on a regular basis, it is one of the best ways to grow – in my experience, I pushed my public speaking fear a little farther out every time I walked into English class. With the mentality that what I had to say was valuable led to me talk more and more each class, allowing me to take that confidence outside of just the English classroom.
- Don’t procrastinate – the world does not work on your clock. If you’re dreading a deadline or assignment, crank through it first giving yourself breaks and rewards along the way. Making a task more bearable with incentives is a really good way to take initiative and not let work build up.
- Put down your phone every once in a while and appreciate what is around you – just coming back from a senior class trip, I’m embarrassed when I admit that not having my phone for a day-and-a-half felt like one of the most strenuous situations. Not having constant satisfaction with the swipe of the refresh or ring of a new text made me feel like a part of me was actually missing. I’ve found that not every moment needs a cell phone to still be appreciated. Vibrant sunsets, waiting at red lights, and your brunch french toast don’t require you to be invested in your phone. Take a moment off the screen, it will serve you well to look around for a bit.
- Parties are irrelevant, don’t stress if there’s not an invite – the social scene in high school is stereotyped to either make or break you. That could not be more false. Not invited to a party? Don’t overthink it. Stripped down, parties are really just a couple-hour windows of people hanging out. Whether it is one week from now or one year, one party will most definitely be an irrelevant incident.
- Nobody is asking you to have every single detail of your life figured out at this instant, take advantage of life and enjoy the now – with college decisions right around the corner, it is sometimes hard to take a step back and focus on the small realm of where life is now. Senior year sometimes seems like it is completely overshadowed by the anticipation and chatter of college. While keeping focus on apps and grades is still important, allot time for yourself to take in where you are now. Seems like a distant and abstract notion but nothing will be the same this time next year.