Isn’t it funny how you look back on your late teens and realise that person who thought they knew everything actually had a LOT more growing up to do? Isn’t it funny how through childhood you expected to feel ‘grown up’ by 18, and now in your 30s/40s/50s/100s, you’re still waiting for that day to come?
The Co-op Insurance sent me this rather insightful post about the advice we would have probably done well to have listened to in our late teens.
Intrigued, I asked friends and colleagues what advice they’d give to their 18 year old selves. Some common themes emerged.
As James Duncan Lamont’s very identifiable advice, “Study something vocational at university.” shows, even when we think we know where we’re headed, things change.
We place such emphasis on future opportunities from such a young age that reaching adulthood can be the culmination of a huge amount of pressure, yet looking back we can see that 18 is so young that our sense of urgency was misplaced.
Never a truer word spoken, this advice is from Andrea Zoppello. Little do we know at 18 how much that statement will mean when we’ve barely time to brush our hair from day-to-day, such is adult life.
This is also summed up by Nell Heshram, who says, “You’ll have plenty of time for fear and caution when you’re older; stay safe, but embrace those opportunities.”
Or as Kelly Innes puts it, “Dance. In the kitchen, in the garden, walking down the street: never wait for someone to ask you, get up there and own that dance floor.” Words to live by.
This one is from Amanda Cottingham and don’t you love the caveat? Sadly, there’s no one to go back and save us from bad fashion sense, but we can look after ourselves while having fun, so Laura Clark calls, “Be more careful with yourself” to her 18 year old self.
And, movingly, Becky Goddard-Hill reminds her 18 year old self that making the most of now also means making the most of time with loved ones: “Mum and dad wont be around forever so give them lots of love and time whilst you can.”
Study first, boys second
Said many a parent…
Sage advice from Helen Best-Shaw and Jennifer Dixon. And Morgan Prince adds, “Be careful with your heart.” while Kara Guppy, Clare Nicholas and Ruthy Jenkins would simply like to warn their younger selves off that ill-chosen beau.
Of course, the person who finally works out how to get a teenager to believe their love isn’t the greatest and most important of all time will probably win a Nobel Prize.
Invest in yourself now
It’s all a bit of blur at 18, isn’t it? Suddenly you have access to seemingly free money in the form of loans with far off repayment dates. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get you 18 year old self to listen when you tell them, less spending, more saving?
This pearl is from Cass Bailey, backed up by Jo Dunlop‘s reminder, “You don’t need to have the best tv, phones, etc. Pay off your mortgage instead.” Joanne Dewberry adds the key insight, “Life as a grown up is expensive!” Well it may be obvious now, but 18…
Meanwhile, Paul Sutton tells his young self that we reap what we sow: “Life is pretty simple. For the most part if you do good things, good things happen to you. If you do bad things, bad things happen to you. It’s karma. Make the right choices.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Lisa Hodson pictures reaching back and saving her young self from needless pain. I think we can all identify with that one.
Believe in yourself
Essential advice from my best friend, Hannah Clementson to all the 18 year olds fretting about everything and anything. Actually, it’s great advice at any age.
We can all be so hard on ourselves, but teens and 20s seem to be when we beat ourselves up the most. This reminder from Alison Perry is a powerful one.
Karina Davies adds, “Don’t worry too much about what others think of you”, Camilla Hawkins reassures, “Don’t be so self conscious”, Merry Raymond reveals, “More people like you than you believe” and Kate Davis-Holmes points out that her 18 year old self isn’t as different as she thinks: “That person who looks so confident is very much like you. They just have a different way of dealing with their insecurity.”
Meanwhile, Otilia Stocks, Joanne Jones, Sarah Miles, and Sarah Barnes have similar revelations to pass back to their 18 year old selves: “You are gorgeous. And slim.” – “You will never look as good as you do now.” – “Stop dieting and revel in it.” – “Your hair looks amazing. Swoosh it around.” Hindsight, eh?
And if we really can’t believe things will ever be ok, Kate Gunn has this comforting advice to add: “GHDs will one day exist.” So there you go.
Finding your own identity starts, in part, with realising you’re not destined to be a copy of anyone else and you have to forge your own path. Great advice from Sarah Arrow.
Mistakes are ok
Remember that crushing feeling of really messing up for the first time? Or that desperate wish to undo something that can’t be undone? Dannii Martin would like to help 18 year old self realise there’s always a way forward, Emma Collins says, “Regret nothing. Just be brave”, Lilinha Angel Espindula reassures her young self that, “It will all work out well in the end” and Rosie Corriette says, “When you’re upset over something just ask yourself: Will this matter in 5 years?” .
And this one’s mine. Or as Charly Dove, now in the career of her dreams says, “You can take photographs for a living.”
Because in the end, even through there may be pain and loves lost, mistakes and embarrassments, dashed hopes and failed efforts, there will also be smiles and laughs, adventures and achievements, loves won and dreams achieved. So just. Keep. Going. Now. Today. Always.
What would your big piece of advice to your 18 year old self be?
This is a commissioned post for The Co-op Insurance. Lead photo © Olha Vysochynska via Shutterstock.