In the 18 years I've been living, life has been a balance of truly great and truly confusing. Trying to tell my own life what to do and how to live while society, parents and the environment in which I want to put myself in leave me questioning if I even know who I am. I have defined myself in the thoughts, actions, words and experiences that are singularly important to my own growth. Growth is something we never stop experiencing, life is something that never stop doing and along the way, we only have each other and ourselves to guide us through it.
These are a few pieces of advice from me to you, 18 pieces to be exact. Think of me as the same age lifestyle guru without the Youtube channel and a lot less money.
1. The in-between is your home until you become a real adult.
The in-between is something like purgatory for us, and when you're 18, you're in it like never before. You're old enough to make your own "adult" decisions, like paying your own cell phone bill or deciding whether or not you want to vote, but you also aren't old enough to drink or buy a home. This in-between of young and old, while proving itself to be extremely irritating, is where the most experiences happen. You will learn who the person is that is the foundation for your adulthood. The mini adult, so to speak. Embrace this time.
2. The only person you're truly going to learn how to love is yourself.
You may feel like you're in love with them, but if you do not know how to love yourself, you can never truly say you're in love with them. This boy/girl/person may make you feel like you're in love and forget all your self-deprecation, but they can never love you better than you. Your love for someone else cannot make you love yourself, so do not put the unrequited love into someone else. Learn what makes you you and love that first and foremost.
3. Thirteen-year-old you is smiling at you right now because you're at a place you never thought you would be.
4. "Enough" is redefined by you every day.
5. Sometimes, we have to step back and appreciate the little victories of the day/week/month/year.
Celebrate the little things. They happen each day, like getting out of bed, getting ready and still having time for breakfast, having a hot shower (Even if your dorm bathrooms are communal, appreciate the time the janitor took to clean it. It was probably a hard job.) and getting all your homework done before the professor said it was due. These little things are something we look over because we don't think of these things as important, but they are. Little victories always equate to the same value as big ones. Appreciate them — they help make you who you are.
6. LOVE YOUR FAMILY.
They don't have to be blood-related to be family. Family is the people who serve you with unconditional love, no matter what the circumstance is. They let you fall, pick you up and let you dust yourself off. They can be your best friends, your parents, your guardians, whoever. Love them, they're growing with you.
7. It is OK to outgrow people, places and things.
These are always memories, but it is OK to outgrow them. As humans, we are ever-changing, and like plants, we all grow different ways sometimes. It is not your fault, there are no faults, just appreciate your growing patterns and respectfully say goodbye to theirs. Next lives may rejoin these memories again.
8. Write until your hands bleed.
Writing has saved my life and my memories. Trust me, a word a day keeps the doctor away. It can be silly, it can be sad, stories are anything you want them to be.
9. You own your body. Do what you want with it, or don't.
"No" is a word you are allowed to use, as are "maybe" and "yes." You have an extensive vocabulary for a reason, as you hold the temple that is your body. You hold the permission slip and consent form to say yes or no. It is no one else's business or opinion or right to tell you. You only get one body, it is precious and self-righteous. Indulge in it and treat it with care.
10. Take care of your body, but take care of your soul and mind as well.
We've all heard of self-care days, but we have the right to make those self-care days into weeks/months/years. Take care of ALL of you every single day. In order for you to be the best you, all of you needs to align. Make sure to take time out of every day to do things to refine your happiness, whether it's reading a book or drawing or listening to music, do things to align you with you.
11. Happiness isn't a destination, it's a compartment on your journey that you will forever be refining and trying to achieve.
Think about the now and what makes you happy now. Happiness is something that will always mean something different to you in five minutes, five months or five years. Think about what makes you happy now, so you can look behind you later and know that it was a time of your life that you made the best out of.
12. You cannot make homes out of other human beings.
You are the only home you inhabit and are allowed to improve. Someone else's home may seem nice for you to visit and try to make your home out of, but it's all for show. At 18, you are at the mercy of thinking what you're doing is wrong and what someone else is doing is right. Your mistakes are what make your rights, and they are what add to your character. Putting your all into someone else and leaving nothing left for yourself does nothing but leave you feeling empty when that home comes crashing down. Make the best home that you can inhabit, and only allow for visitors, no permanent residents, until you're ready.
13. Everyone moves at a different speed for stages of their life.
If you haven't had sex yet, it's OK. If you haven't had your first kiss yet, it's OK. I didn't have my first kiss until I was 15 and I felt like I was some type of alien. You're normal, I promise. It'll come.
14. Your body is the best body, and it can only go up from here.
Your body is the best it can be, however it looks. Never let anyone shame you for it.
15. Friends come and go, but still, put your all into your friendships.
Your friendships are special little inklings in your life. Put your all into them, that way, you always know you tried even if they didn't.
16. Everybody is feeling the exact way you are at orientation, on the first day of classes, etc. You're not alone.
That girl over there? Yeah, she's not just crying because she forgot her favorite pair of shoes back home in Nebraska. She and a thousand (more if your school is bigger) other people feel the exact way you're feeling. This is a fun, exciting, yet scary and nerve-wracking time. Talk about it, make an effort to make yourself comfortable and others. It'll be a smooth sailing into freshman year if you can all ride the waters together.
17. Stay who you are, don't try to be someone else when you enter college.
College is all about redefining yourself, but don't try to make yourself be something you're not. Stay yourself, but just keep getting better every day. I promise you, no one knows you and you don't want them to know you as the person who isn't true to themselves.
18. Your word is just as strong as your action.
The things that you say are just as important as the things that you do. Mean what you say, mean what you do.
And there you have it. Eighteen pieces of life from me to you. Look back at this article as many times as you need to, take every point or even just one to help make this growth spurt we call 18 a little bit easier. We're only this age once, and we can only grow up from here.
Lead Image Credit: Pixabay