Dear 18 year old Me,
I bet you won’t believe this story when I tell you. You think you have it all figured out.
Imagine I told you that the life that you worked hard to build for yourself would come crashing down by the time you were in your late twenties and you would find yourself back in the box room of your parents’ house. Sounds awful, doesn’t it?
Well if you stick with me, I can tell you a tale of finding your feet again; of falling in love and of wild adventures. Did you know that you would travel the World and find all kinds of joy in it? You will go on to learn things that you never knew you needed to learn. Most of these things you would learn the hard way, in fact very little will come easy to you. Still, I just thought you might like some little pearls of wisdom that I have collected along the way.
Take care of your body and your body will take care of you
When I look back over the last decade of my life, I wish that someone had told me that I did not need to diet or be obsessed with my weight.
When it comes to your body, you don’t need meal substitutes, supplements, shakes, tablets, detox tea, what you need is nourishing food and patience.
Try not to fall into the trap of hating your body. It will take you on an amazing journey and is a product of how you treat it. As soon as you begin to love your body, you will begin to treat it as it deserves to be treated.
Always go for the nice guy.
As exciting as it seems right now to hang around with the life and soul of the party, this is not where you will find home. The bad boys, the mysterious boys and the boys that treat you mean to keep you keen, all have one thing in common; they will make you feel bad about You. When it comes to men, there is no such thing as “too nice”. You will learn what I mean as you get older. The nice guy is the one who considers you, even worries about you. He never expects you to apologise for who you are, because he loves who you are entirely. He always texts or calls you back and he never leaves you wondering if he really likes you, because he shows you that he does. He doesn’t ever try to stop you from following your dreams, in fact he encourages you to do it. I know they say “when you meet the right person you’ll know”, but this, you will find, is completely true.
Contrary to popular belief, quitting is OK
At 18 you think the World is at your feet. You have probably never failed at anything significant. But failing is a normal and natural part of life and so too is quitting. People don’t talk about the power of quitting enough. Any motivational speaker you will ever hear will talk about setting a goal and not stopping until you have smashed that goal. Don’t get caught up in this.
Sometimes it is okay to quit. Sometimes when situations are beyond our control, it is okay to walk away and set a new goal. At 19 I quit college, but at 21 I tried again and would go on to achieve a Masters in a subject that suited me better. The same thing goes for work, relationships and where you live, it is okay to quit, as long as you are prepared to set yourself a new goal and start afresh. Being strong does not just mean battling through hard times, there will be times in your life when “being strong” is having the courage to change the course of your life.
Don’t limit your social circle
The greatest skill you will ever learn in life is the ability to communicate with different people from different walks of life. Surround yourself with as many people as you can. Spend your life with people from as many age groups, social backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, race, gender and sexual orientation. If you only spend your life with people with the same view of World as you, you will never be able to fully understand the beauty, pain and complexity that exist in Life. Learn from these people, try to understand them and enjoy their companionship.
See as much of the World as you can
The planet that we live in is both overwhelmingly beautiful and devastatingly painful. Sometimes things happen that we can’t comprehend or begin to justify. Still – we live on a planet that has history beyond our knowledge. Experience all there is to experience. Travel far and wide, but also close to home. Get to know the culture of your hometown in order to compare and contrast it with other places you visit. Go out into the World and come home with stories to tell.
Most important of All
Always be grateful for the things that are good in your life. It won’t always be fun or happy or exciting, but when it is, cherish it. Take all of the opportunities handed to you and make them your own. Always thank the people who are kind to you and try not to judge the people who are not. And most importantly of all, allow yourself to be happy.