Just the other day, someone asked me whether I had any regrets in life. They asked whether or not I would change anything that had happened in my, granted, short life experience. It was a good question, and for a minute I was stumped.
Here’s the thing, I don’t regret anything in my life, because I’ve learned from all of my mistakes, even if it took me a couple of tries. What I ended up saying was that if I could go back and talk to my eighteen year-old self, I’d give her a bit of a pep talk. Here’s what I’d say:
Eighteen year-old self,
You’re eighteen! Hooray! I know that the world seems simultaneously at your fingertips and terrifying, but you’ll muddle through, I promise. You may not know what you want to do with your life right now, but that’s okay. Take the time, travel, gain life experience, and it will come. Though, fair warning, it’s not going to be anything like what you planned.
You’re not going to have the career you imagined for yourself, and that’s likely for the better. You weren’t cut out for the culture in an advertising agency, anyways. You’re meant to work with people, on exciting projects and with lofty goals. It’ll be rewarding, trust me.
A word of advice, however, is to take time to enjoy the journey. You’re goal oriented and ambitious, I get it, but make sure to recognize each and every milestone that you achieve. When you lose the weight–and you will lose it–celebrate! When you try things and they don’t work out (like that nannying gig in France), congratulate yourself for trying something scary and brave. When you finish the first draft of your book, before stressing about who will or won’t buy it, recognize the massive achievement that it is to write 80,000 words.
It’s easy to stress yourself out over things, but giving in to the stress is akin to feeding a beast. Instead, choose joy. Choose time with friends and family over stress eating or Netflix binges (oh… okay, see, Netflix is this thing where you can watch movies online…. never mind, just trust me, it’s addictive).
While it may feel like time drags, particularly when you have such big dreams, it also speed by in the blink of an eye. I know you want to experience love and a relationship, but take heart that it, too, will come, but all in its own time. In the meantime, again, enjoy the journey. Flirt with boys, party with your friends, and don’t for one second doubt that you can, and will, travel the world without a man by your side. You are complete and enough, just as you are.
And, self, remind yourself when you do reach my age (*cough* almost 30), remind you/me that time is precious. Know that the most important thing is creating experiences with your family (be it blood or otherwise), striving for health, and working for your dreams. The end result of any of these things isn’t what matters. It’s how you spend your time, who you spend it with, and how you feel along the way.
Eighteen year-old self, you’ve got this, even when it feels like you don’t.
So, be brave, be bold, and savour the moments.
Twenty-nine year-old self
It turns out, what I would change, if anything, is more of a philosophy than it is an event.
What would you tell your eighteen year-old self? Share those gems of wisdom below in the comments.