In life, you have to suffer through challenges and failures but hopefully grow as a result from enduring them. There is plenty of advice being offered all around us when growing up, but when we are young, we are predisposed to often tuning it out.
While I have compiled here 10 nuggets of advice to relay to my 18-year-old self, this perspective can most likely only be learned over time and through actual life experience.
Putting aside the current limitations of time travel, if I was somehow able to bestow all of these suggestions to my 18-year-old self, I am not sure it would have made a bit of difference in my life. Words and suggestions can help guide and cajole, but life experience is indeed the ultimate teacher.
Perhaps this list is just an expression of gratitude for where life has brought me to this point. Maybe it is a guidepost to help me in parenting my young son through his pending challenges and struggles in life, which he will undoubtedly face.
If I could go back to 1992 and sit down with myself as a freshman in college, here are The 10 Things I Would Tell My 18-Year-Old Self:
Party, have fun, and enjoy life, but know it is truly about the people and the experiences. Do not conflate alcohol with the reason for any of your good times.
You can trust your parents with anything and everything. It is ok to open up to them and share your life with them.
That feeling in your gut, the nervous butterflies, is not always a signal to run away from something. Sometimes, perhaps even quite often, it is an indication of something wildly rewarding and fulfilling that is awaiting you.
You will suffer loss. Some of those who pass will be close to you and it will be well before their time. It will be classmates, peers, and close family. It can and will be jarring. You will be changed profoundly. You will get through it, but do not try to go around it. Be vulnerable and go through the hurt.
You are ok dating and being casual with relationships throughout your twenties. You can break up with a serious girlfriend. It is all good life experience. When you are ready to settle down with a partner, you will be ready and committed for life.
Therapy is nothing to be scared or ashamed of. It is empowering and it will change your life dramatically. Start the process now.
Music really is as important and powerful as it feels to you right now.
Be aware and informed of world events, but never feel scared or disempowered by any of the stuff going on out there. There will be stuff going on out there for the rest of your life.
As of your early 40’s, the Philadelphia Eagles will continue to bitterly disappoint you in one maddening way after another, season after season. However, you will get to spend a considerable amount of time with your Dad watching the games. Someday you will even get to buy your own son his very first Eagles jersey. It is time well spent loving the Eagles.
Humanity is inspiring, hopeful, helpful, and well intentioned. Individual people can and do suck at times. Focus on the former and do not get hung up on the latter.