You will change so much in the next ten years, it will make your head spin.
Mistakes, many many mistakes, will happen. You will, sometimes, hate yourself. You will question the purpose of it all, and wonder if you are doing anything right. You will wonder if you are broken and beyond repair. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. You will discover that you are capable of greatness. You will eventually gain enough perspective to see that your heart is tender, loving, vulnerable, and forgiving. These qualities are so important. You are special, so special. You will only get better at life.
Most people won’t get your sense of humor. That’s okay, because it doesn’t make you any less hilarious. You’re more intimidating than you think you are, so be careful with your words. Make sure they are always kind. Your ability to say how you feel, and your directness, are two of your most enduring traits. You won’t realize this until much later than you should. Do not be ashamed of your positivity and sparkle. Some people will not like you, and that is okay. Some people will not understand or approve of your story, and that is okay too. It is not their story to write.
You will lose yourself, and then you will discover yourself. The world, and your decisions, will almost break you. Then you will build yourself back up again. The people in your life will teach you valuable lessons. They will enter into your orbit and show you love, wisdom, pain, sacrifice, and toughness.
That’s what everything is. It’s toughness training. When you get to be twenty-eight, your skin will be thicker. Your heart will be bigger. Your self-awareness will be better than it’s ever been. You will have gained back the confidence you lost during your dark years, and more will come with it. You will get more than you bargained for in every aspect of your life.
When it comes to the dark years, remember it is all essential in shaping who you will become. They will be extremely uncomfortable, painful, and full of tears. You will doubt your ability to make it through. You will feel alone and devoid of faith and hope. Remember, dear one, that these years are inevitable for you, and so important to your journey. When you are closer to thirty than you are to twenty, you will be on the other side of them. You will feel truer and more authentic than you ever have. You will have learned so much about yourself. The darkness is imperative to discovering your inner light. Feel it. Go through it. Don’t fight it. Look forward to the person you will someday be.
When it comes to college, pay attention. Especially in statistics and economics, or else you’ll regret not doing so once you graduate. Major in something that you are passionate about, regardless of what job opportunities it may present after graduation. College is a bubble, a wonderfully encased and protected version of life, so soak it up. Join the sorority that resonates with you and your ideals and your principles, and it will give you lifelong connections. Do not disappear into the partying. For heaven’s sake, make it to that 8 am ochem class regularly. Take a quarter abroad and travel. Your twenty-eight year-old self never did, and she really wishes you would. At graduation you will have no idea what you want to do or who you are meant to become, and that is okay. You will figure it out along the way. Be weary of how much you spend on your credit card.
When it comes to your career, don’t be afraid to assert yourself and live out loud. Do not shy away from expressing your opinions. Do not let other people make you feel small. If you work for a company that does not value you or recognize your accomplishments, move on. Chase your dreams. Don’t be scared to make a change or to use your voice. Don’t settle for a job that is boring, but be sure that you can always pay your bills. Financial security is necessary but living lavishly is not. Try your best to let temporary setbacks and negative energy flow in and out, like the gills of a fish. Work is the water and your gills are the filter; keep only the good. Be fluid and proud and kind, always kind. Treat people how you would like to be treated and do not reciprocate less than graceful behavior.
When it comes to your love life, maintain the faith that the right one will come along. There will be years that are meant just for you in which you learn about yourself, all alone. There will be years in which you have no interest in a relationship, and years where you yearn for companionship and love. Who you think is good for you, or a good idea, usually won’t be. Consider advice but make your own decisions. There will be men who lie to you, take advantage of you, disrespect you, and don’t appreciate the wonderful woman you are. There will also be men who restore your faith and teach you that what you are looking for will come in its own time. There will be men who take care of you and honor your friendship. There will be men who are honest, kind-hearted and want the absolute best for you. Keep fighting for yourself. Keep dating. Pray. Do not become bitter or closed-off to something amazing, for it could be just around the corner. Assert your needs but don’t be afraid to compromise. Remember to find the good in every experience and that time heals all. There are good ones out there, I promise. It only takes one to change everything.
Do not play the comparison game. It is the quickest way to suck the happiness out of your life. Follow whatever it is that makes you happy. Write. It will be your therapy and your contribution to the universe.
The earlier you learn to accept what is, rather than what you wish would be, the better. Quit blaming yourself for everything. Throw out that life plan you’re writing out in your journal. It’s all a process. It’s all impossible to control and predict. The point is to enjoy the ride and to run head-first into your life, with arms spread wide.
Don’t be scared. I know that’s easier said than done, but it will all be okay in the end. You are fierce, brave, independent, driven and full of promise.
And last but not least, trust me when I tell you that the only thing standing in your way is you.
What do you want to say to your 18 year-old self?