What is the best life advice you would give to an 18 year old about to start their . Sorry If some of my words will hurt you but never waste your time, energy.
This morning I was reading a book at my favorite beach-side coffee shop when an 18-year-old kid sat down next to me and said, “That’s a great read, ain’t it?” So we started chatting.
He told me he was getting ready to graduate from high school in a couple of weeks and then immediately starting his college career in the fall. “But I have no clue what I want to do with my life,” he said. “Right now I’m just going with the flow.”
And then, with eager, honest eyes, he began asking me one question after the next:
I answered his questions as best as I could, and tried to give decent advice with the time I had. And after a half-hour conversation, he thanked me and we parted ways.
But on the walk home I realized the conversation I had with him was actually quite nostalgic for me. He reminded me of me ten years ago. So I started thinking about his questions again, and I began imagining all of the things I wish someone had told me when I was 18.
Then I took it a step further and thought about all the things I would love to tell myself if I could travel back in time to give my 18-year-old self some advice about life.
So after a few cups of coffee and a couple hours of deliberation, here are 18 things I wish someone told me when I was 18:
But above all, laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change. Life is short, yet amazing. Enjoy the ride.
Also, if you liked this article and you’re looking for similar advice on life, love and personal growth I highly recommend that you read The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. It’s an easy, enjoyable read that literally changed my life.
This article was co-written by Marc and Angel and Shaun Boyd, and inspired by Shaun’s insightful work which can be found here.
Photo by: Taylor McBride
What is the best life advice you would give to an 18 year old about to start their . Sorry If some of my words will hurt you but never waste your time, energy.
When I was a teenager I couldn’t wait to turn 18. It felt as if it took ages to finally attain majority. But sooner or later you turn 18 and you can finally take your own decisions in life. Along with all the new freedoms and rights comes also a great deal of responsibility. A responsibility for yourself, your life and what you make of it. When you are 18 you meet quite a lot of decisions that have an impact on your future life. Some of these decisions turn out to be really great, others not. Wouldn’t it be great to know exactly what kind of mistakes you need to be wary of when you are young? Why not even try to avoid the mistakes many young people make? If I had the possibility to meet my younger self this is the advice I would give. These are the things I wish I knew when I was 18.
When you are young you want to go out and meet all sorts of new people. Most likely, you’ll even find yourself in situations and places where you get to know lots of interesting people. That is great as long as you don’t fall for the illusion that amassing friends is more worthwhile than a couple of real friends.
Only your true friends will be there for you when you need them. They will come running for you, even if you call them in the middle of the night. Your best friends will be on your side and give you strength in times of great despair.
All the other people are nice acquaintances. They are nice to get to know and fun to hang around with. But they might not be the people that help you fighting off whatever life throws at you. If you are able to discern between true friends and mere acquaintances, you will be very well.
True friendship is when you walk into their house and your WiFi connects automatically. – Unknown
Worrying is a big waste of time. Being troubled over something gives you unnecessary headaches about things that will not even be important to you in a couple of years. Plus, there’s always something to worry about: your grades, your future, the economy, global warming. The list never ends.
I always worried about failure. Only later I realized that there’s something far worse than failing: not trying at all.
If something troubles you then by all means: get up and do something about it. Worrying alone never solved anything. Use that precious time of yours for solving the problem, not for worrying about it. The advice I would give my 18-year-old self about worrying is this: do your best and everything will just be fine.
If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today. – E. Joseph Cossman
Spending money that you don’t have is not such a good idea. Do it the old-fashioned way. If you want something, save until you can afford it. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. This simple rule can help you to stay out of a lot of trouble.
Buying things on credit is not super cool. Instead, you end up paying interest on top of the price. Let me repeat this. You pay more than everybody else.
Getting into debt can turn into a real nightmare. One day you wake up from it and you realize two things. First, that your paycheck is now largely spent on paying back the debt. Secondly, that you could have bought some pretty expensive things from the accumulated interest that you have paid all over the years.
When you get in debt you become a slave. – Andrew Jackson
The younger you marry, the more likely it is that you will get divorced (statistics are taken from National Center for Health). As a consequence, the highest rate of divorce can be found amongst those who marry under the age of 20. The divorce rate starts to decrease for couples who are 20 to 24 years old when they marry. Divorce is even less likely for those who marry at the age of 25 or thereafter.
If you are young and want to avoid a stupid mistake, then wait for marriage until you are really sure. See how the relationship develops over the years.
They say marriages are made in Heaven. But so is thunder and lightning. – Clint Eastwood
The feeling of holding the very first paycheck in your hands is just incredible. Finally, you can afford to buy all those fancy things that you always wanted. But make not the mistake of living from paycheck-to-paycheck.
As a young person, you have not many financial responsibilities. There is no family that you have to take care of. No mortgage to pay off. Use this time to lay the proper financial foundation for the rest of your life. Saving parts of your paycheck helps you to build a safety net for times of uncertainty. But it will also allow you to invest a certain amount of your money with a nice return.
Trust me. The letter to my 16-year-old self has this one important sentence in it: “spending two of your paychecks on a Nokia 3310 looks like an incredibly stupid thing to do, 10 years later. We use mobiles with touchscreens now.”
Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship. – Benjamin Franklin
Most people blame anyone else but themselves for the events in their life. That’s the easy route to take, you’ll always find someone to blame. Where does this lead? Victimhood—you become a victim, instead of taking action. Stop doing that, you’re not the victim. Man-up and take responsibility.
Mistakes happen so that you can learn from them. If you play the blame game you will learn nothing. Instead, the same mistakes happen to you all over again. That is until you start to seek the reason for what happens in yourself.
We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change. – Katharine Hepburn
Sure, you need money. That’s a given, but money should not become your ultimate motivation. The people that profoundly changed the world all had a vision in mind, not the money they could make from it. Pursue your dream and see if you can create something of great value both to yourself and others.
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. – Confucius
Also, you will have to ask yourself if a satisfying job is more important to you than a higher-paying job that turns out to be soul-crushing. Only you can answer this question.
Should you even manage to find a profession that you are really interested in you are a lucky person. Being really passionate about what you do is a prerequisite for success. And always remember, no one ever wishes they had worked more when they die. But many people regret not having spent enough time with their kids and family.
As an 18-year-old you are near of reaching your physical peak. Your body will tolerate all kinds of stresses with great ease. Something you really don’t want to do is abuse this feature of your body. Instead, use this phase to lay the proper foundation for a healthy life. This is the best time to develop strength by exercising regularly. It is much more difficult to do this at a later time. Consequently, losing weight will become a lot more difficult when you are older.
Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. – John F. Kennedy
Moderation is the big keyword here. Managing to avoid excesses is something that your body will thank you for in later life. Nobody asks you to live like a saint, but if you are able to stay away from smoking and drugs you can avoid a lot of problems. Also, eat and drink with moderation. You have only one chance. Once you have ruined your health it’s incredibly difficult to restore the damages. Sadly, most people only realize this when it is too late. Don’t be one of them.
Everything in excess is opposed to nature. – Hippocrates
When you’re young you want to take on the world. You dream big and have high hopes for the future. However, not all wishes come to fruition. Be prepared for this. Too high expectations can lead to pretty big disappointments.
Sometimes we take everything for granted, without realizing the prosperity in our lives. Try to appreciate what you already have. If you are not happy now then no Porsche or big mansion will change that (in the long run).
This mindset is a great foundation that cannot be shaken too easily, even if you are not able to reach a given desire. It helps you to shift your focus away from desperately trying to pursue all that which you don’t have. This pursuit is a rat race that leads you nowhere.
It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen. – John Wooden
Karma will always get you. As a young person, you think that you are somehow immune to the consequences of your actions. But in miraculous ways, your past will always catch back up. Sooner or later, all that goes around comes back around. You can learn it the hard way or you can try to do good things.
How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours. – Wayne W. Dyer
YOLO is a great excuse for meeting irrational decisions. The “you only live once” attitude will lead you nowhere, except to places bad ideas generally lead. Living one’s moronic desires is never a good idea, celebrating stupidity neither.
Don’t get me wrong here; there is nothing wrong with making the best of life and living it to the fullest. But there is a great difference between spending your time in a focused manner and wasting it on the fast lane.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. – Mae West
Family comes first, need I to say more? Don’t put down the people who supported you from the beginning and will continue to do so. Spend time with them and enjoy their presence.
Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten. – David Ogden Stiers
Not knowing what you want will lead you astray. If you have a goal, a vision or a dream your focus will become much sharper. It will help you to prioritize that which is important. But it will also increase your willingness to make sacrifices.
If you don’t already know exactly what you want from life, then you’d better figure it out. As soon as possible.
When you know what you want, and want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it. – Jim Rohn
Seriously, did anyone ever tell you that “you wouldn’t believe what happened after 3 AM?” These stories always end up with someone being taken to the hospital. Or the stories have words like cops, bouncers, mistake or vomit in it. Don’t waste your next day and go home when you feel that the party is starting to decline, it will never reach its peak again.
I stay up late every night, and realize it’s a bad idea every morning. – Unknown
Life advice submitted by readers:
Skip marriage, why self-incarcerate? Give more than you take. Work for its own sake. Don’t compete for anything. Never ask for a raise or promotion, if you’re good, they’ll come to you. Learn a foreign language. Never buy a house, if you must, never borrow to buy it. Paying interest is the same as burning your money. To stay ahead of the cheats, study statistics, probability, interest rates, present and future value. Find what’s false, negative thinking is the highest form of thinking. (That’s not the same as being a negative person.) Don’t judge people, particularly yourself, nobody can help who they are, free will is an illusion.
– Submitted by Daphne Silk
If you want kids, have them young so you have the energy to enjoy them and they are grown in time for you to enjoy time with your mate while you still have your health.
– Submitted by Pam Adager
Stupid mistake to avoid when you are young: Wearing a check shirt, Photo credit: John Goodridge
This June marks 10 years since I graduated High School. 10 years ago this summer I was away from home for as long as I had ever been, and 10 years ago this fall I moved in to the dorms at University of Florida, and began classes.
The memories don’t feel too long ago. I can look back and remember vivid details. A goal-line stand to win the homecoming football game, Senior prom with my future wife, carrying a Mr. T bobble-head doll up on the graduation stage, moving day at the dorm, first classes, and living independently. All of those memories and more come rushing back.
You may be finding yourself in the same position this year, and you may be excited or afraid, likely both. That’s normal. You may not be entering college at all, and that’s fine, it’s not for everyone. You may be preparing to graduate college, and are likely much more afraid to enter the “real world” than you were to enter college. That was a bit more recent for me, but still 6 years ago.
Since I graduated college, I’ve worked 2 full-time jobs, both rooted in the growth and development of other people. The first was as a high school girl’s lacrosse coach, and now as the Assistant Director of Camp Rockmont for Boys. Through the lens of that work, I’ve been able to work with young men and women’s they grow, and are faced with the biggest decisions of their young lives. Where do I go to college? Who do I marry? What should I do for a living? What excites me? What do I believe? How can I help the world? These are big questions, and some decisions are made quickly; others take time.
To the excited, nervous, scared, happy, angry, high school or college graduate, you are in a wonderful stage of life where your life and all that entails becomes yours. You may even be years out of college, still trying to decide what matters to you! I hope something in here will speak to you, and offer guidance in the months and years to come.
Sure, be nice, but you’ll wear yourself out with 50 best friends. Lets go with 5-10 close friends. Your future roommates and the guys in your bible study will do nicely. I know it’s exciting to feel popular, have tons of friends, and be well-liked. I promise though, in the long run, having a small group of people who know all about you (the good and the bad) will serve you well. So let’s just focus on a few, ok?
The most important person in the world is the one you’re talking to. Don’t check your phone, keep thinking of a response, or look away. This will do wonders for you. Just chill out and listen. The feeling is wonderful.
You’ll read this, hear it, and forget it hundreds of times. But you are fine just as you are. I know we get all worked up about being liked and thought highly of, but you don’t have to manufacture it. And yes, people think you’re funny, good-looking, and talented. So let’s move past the vain self-love and not get a big head. So yes, be confident, you have a lot going for you. At the same time, don’t let it go to your head.
A relationship is not about money, cars, trips, study aids, sports, or anything that benefits you. Instead, focus on how you can be a blessing to others, and do so whether they are your best friends or not. One of the most important things you can do in life is to cultivate a heart for others!
Ah I have struggled with this! It’s nice you’re friendly and social, and people invite you to do things. But you end up getting stretched really thin, sacrificing those who matter most to you, including valuable time to yourself.
Wherever people are, look for ways you can serve. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan Priest, says “Without service outside of self, an ego maintains itself through comparison and competition. Which creates an unhealthy state of only being good because others are not as good”. This is no way to live your life! Serving a cause outside of yourself strips that self0defeating thinking away.
When you walk in a room, ask to help. If you pass a homeless person on the street, give them some change, or better yet, bring them some food. Sacrifice your time and money to go to another country and help, while also learning so much. I’m 28 and just went on my first foreign mission trip, and was blown away. The trip was a total game-changer for me.
I used to talk about things I’d never enjoy, like running, vegetables, or yoga. Now I run marathons, am a (mostly) vegetarian, and just finished up a 30 day hot yoga challenge. Crazy! You never know where life will take you and shake you up for a while. Just be open to the process, and what life has to offer. Your time on earth is too short to go around dismissing things and people.
Oh man this is tough. As you grow older, the world is going to speed up, and there will be more distractions than ever. Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of social media are simply tools, but can be an enormous time drain! They’re not bad things, but they’re not the most important things. You need to decide what is most important to you, and make it a priority. For me, my short list of priorities is:
Everything else is a threat, and should be considered very carefully. People may get upset, but eventually the ones who care about you will understand and respect your choices. Leo Babuata of Zen Habits is a master at helping people develop good habits.
This goes along with your priorities, because you do not need to feel like everything relies on you. The party you’re invited to? It will still go on. The committee you were asked to serve on? The work will be completed. You can certainly do those things, but if they do not align with your top priorities, proceed with caution! As you grow older, your free time will become less and less, and that time is best spent doing the things you really care about.
This may be the scariest item on the list. Risking big starts with risking small in hundreds of different ways throughout your life. Taking those risks doesn’t always mean you’re going to jump out of a plane, change jobs, or move to a new city. It can mean introducing yourself to a person, trying new foods, or learning to dance.
Each opportunity to put yourself in a situation where you are not fully in control, and are vulnerable, is a risk! The cool part is some of our most fulfilling and rewarding experiences arise from taking a risk, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Plus, you’ll see many of these tips have an element of risk to them. Don’t be afraid of taking one.
Whatever faith you have, hang on to it! Now, you may have been hurt by religion or faith groups in the past, and for that I am sorry on their behalf. Allow me to point out though, that groups of any religious affiliation are made of people. Obvious, right? Well, as you know, people are broken, fallen, and can twist things to match their own desires. But, I believe if you look close enough, you’ll see a central message is one of love, unity, and hope.
For me, that belief lies with the message and life of Jesus. My faith gives me a reason and a hope outside of myself, a belief in something larger than my own existence. What you will eventually learn, is life is not about you! The world does not revolve around you, but in that revolving mess of life is a significance which brings meaning.
I really wish I had started doing this when I was 18. Many of the things you have now you won’t have in 10 years. I’m not saying that simply in terms of clothing either, but including the toys, gear, and other miscellaneous things you buy. I encourage you to help bring a stop to the endless cycle of purchasing, and also the almost desperate need we feel sometimes to purchase something!
The fewer possessions you have, the freer you will be. Plus, you will save a lot of money! The money can then be used for a trip or experience that will mean so much more to you than a 3rd pair of jeans. You can even give some of your extra money away, after realizing you have all you need. The danger is coming to believe (on an unconscious level) that your possessions define you, i.e. I need these shoes to be in style. In the style of Fight Club, say with me, “You are not the car you drive, you are not the contents of your wallet, you are not your khakis“. When you are tempted to lay down your money for a product, consider these 3 questions:
So often (and I am guilty of this as well) we make impulse purchases, and listen the false self whispering in our ear, saying, “Hurry and buy this! It will make you so much cooler, and more attractive! What if they run out? People will laugh at you if you don’t have it! What do you mean you want to own less? Wear the same shirt twice in the same month? What, are you crazy?” And the voice goes on and on and on. Slowly, painfully, put down the product and walk away. The things you own do not own you.
For me, this has taken a while to come around to. Most of us enjoy being able to eat whatever we want, and there is a certain freedom to that ability. But it is not sustainable! Even if you are naturally thin, have a high metabolism, or exercise frequently, life will eventually hand you a set of circumstances which conflict with this current reality. Reality might be a job, injury, relationship, or lack of motivation.
My reality was writing. I realized I had a limited amount of time to exercise and write each day. I could continue to exercise at my current pace, but I wouldn’t write near as much, and vice versa. Since no one was paying me to run an hour a day, I realized I could change my eating habits in order to stay healthy while increasing my writing load. Balancing those 2 passions was the primary motivation in changing my diet, but not the only one.
Eating mostly vegetables, fruit, lean meats, and whole grains is simply better for your body. Eating simply based on what your body looks on the outside can be dangerous, especially for people who are naturally thin! Certainly people react differently to foods, my advice is to really pay attention to how food makes you feel. I love BBQ, but I feel tired and lethargic after eating it. Eating lots of veggies makes me feel energized and lean. What foods make you feel good?
This step may take a while, and being in a relationship which requires your full self. Usuallywhen we are dating, a person will go to great lengths to only let the best side of themselves show. Long-term relationships, and especially marriage, brings out the whole person, both their positive self and darkness. It’s not a critique, no one is perfect, and naturally move towards their darkness.
What I’m talking about is fully loving the person you are with (romantically or not), taking in to account their wonderful parts, and the parts you’d rather do without. Loving fully also goes back to being fully present, when you are with them is to give this person your full attention, not to unconsciously be somewhere else.
Go away. Seriously. When you head to college, move out and get an apartment, have some roommates, and pay your bills. Buy your groceries, fill up your car with gas, and manage what little money you have. If you choose to work immediately after high school, same rules apply. You’re 18! There is a healthy part of you which screams out to be free!
The problem we’ve encountered is we want our parents and elders to finance our freedom. We want cars, cell phones, and memory foam beds, but no curfew. There is a simple way to have this freedom, and it’s simply to walk out the door and take it. Your parents love you and want the best for you, and whether they know it or not, taking leave from them is the way to learn what’s best. Ask your parents when they learned the most in life, and usually they will say it’s during the hard times.
People don’t naturally grow in times of ease and prosperity. This circles back to taking a big risk, and to live on your own is a HUGE risk. But I believe what you’ll find is you have the power inside you to survive, and eventually to thrive. Trust me, the belief in yourself to live independently is one of the most powerful feelings you’ll experience.
Let’s make a list…
This is a simple visual I use to help people figure out the convergence between their passions, talents, and potential pay. I share Chris Guillebeau’s belief that simply asking people to do what they love is misguided, they must work towards a convergence. I love playing guitar, but my talent is so-so, and so no one is going to pay me to chop away at chords for an hour. I could eventually work my way up to above average, and will keep playing, but my convergence lies elsewhere.
Right now, I believe it lies in writing, teaching, and coaching people. Here’s some good news… people have multiple points of convergence. I also work as a summer camp director, where I was able to use my passion and talent to teach, mentor, write, motivate, and inspire. Write down as many things as possible in those 3 lists, and work towards convergence.
The world does not revolve around you, and all of the inhabitants are not placed here to make sure you have an easy ride. We get caught up when life is not fair, we don’t get the job, the relationship, or things just don’t work out. This is life, and it does not revolve around our happiness. This is why we must seek our fulfillment from the inside (through faith) and then turn the energy outside of us, cultivating a life for others. The good news is you are about life! The relationships, sunrises, laughter, adventures; you can give yourself fully to them because you have been filled from the inside.
This is perhaps the hardest lesson I have learned, and I hope you can realize the truth long before I have. Sadly, many people go through their entire lives without realizing it! The simple truth is “You are enough!” People try to fill their lives with possessions, titles, money, status symbols, other people, and more. You think that without a new car, people will look down on you. A voice of doubt says “If you don’t have a prolific job, something is wrong”. We can even use other people in this way! How often have you thought, “I’m nothing without this person, they are everything to me.” Before you love others, you need to be able to love yourself. If you believe you’re nothing before she comes along, you’ll never be enough with her.
I hope a part of this essay helped you in some way, even if you aren’t 18! Many of these lessons I need to remind myself of every day. I would really enjoy hearing your thoughts on this topic, please share additional lessons you’ve learned in the years since 18, and help add to the story we’re all telling of our lives. I would love to hear them.
Filed Under: Community, Human Development, PersonalTagged With: career, college, food, friends, high school, job, Life, Love, relationships
You learn a lot over the course of ten years. Here, a writer doles out some advice to her 18-year-old self that we can all learn from, no matter our.
To celebrate our 18th birthday, we asked some friends of Red to share the advice they'd give to their 18-year-old selves if they could.
From not worrying to not having regrets, everyone from actress Kate Hudson to explorer Levison Wood have given us their pearls of wisdom.
“Nothing! I was having a blast at 18. I’ve always liked to have fun; I’ll always continue to like to have fun. I have no regrets. All the choices I’ve made have made me who I am and I don’t regret a single moment of it.”
Kate Hudson, actress
“Don’t stress out. You’re young, you look amazing, and everything is going to come together at one point. It’s good to date a few assholes, it’s good to go to a few crazy parties and just enjoy being alone.”
Caroline Winberg, model
“Having long legs and a size eight body is not the key to happiness. Some of the unhappiest people I know have got the looks of a supermodel. It all comes from within, and I would tell my younger self that actually if you can find an acceptance and a happiness, it makes you the happiest person in the room.”
Tracy Ann Oberman, actress and writer
"Stay weird. Remain in sniffing distance of all that sweaty poetry. Remain pretentious. Resist all these stupid electronic communications. Stay in that bloody bush."
Sophie Heawood, writer
“Don’t worry about the future, things will work out alright.”
Levison Wood, explorer
“Don’t worry so much. It’ll be alright.”
Thomasina Miers, co-founder of Wahacca
“Don’t sleep with anyone from the Edinburgh Festival, who you don’t end up marrying, because you’ll end up seeing them all the time.”
Sarah Solemani, actress
“Not to worry so much, not to listen to everyone else. Just do what makes you happy. Live your own life and don’t worry what everyone else thinks.”
Portia Freeman, model
“One day you’ll realise you haven’t disappointed anyone if you don’t look perfect. That kind, strong and smart works even better.”
Dolly Alderton, writer
“That all the dreadful boys that were interesting then are of so little interest now.”
Emma France, Mothers2Mothers European director
"Go easy on your mum, OK? All she’s doing is her best. You’ll come to see this if you ever have kids of your own. Trust me."
Stuart Heritage, writer
“Go home. Get out of that nightclub. Just enjoy being young, don’t worry, there’s no panic. You don’t have to worry about fitting into something, just try your best and try everything. Don’t just dream about it - try it.”
Yasmin Mills, event organizer
“Don’t worry it will all be OK. Take more opportunities; don’t let things pass you by.”
Jasmine Guinness, designer and model
“Food, booze, money, men: they can’t fix you. Those things can make you feel better. But the more you rely on any of them to save you, the more lost you will become. And the weirdest part is that failure, disappointment, heartbreak — all the things you avoid — those are what make you stronger.”
Sarah Hepola, author
Friends of Red share the one piece of advice they'd share with their 18-year-old self at Redonline.co.uk.