Life Lessons for my 18-year-old self

Today (yesterday) is my birthday.

It’s not a significant birthday, but at the same time, it IS special.

Today marks the point at which I have been an adult as long as I was a child. (36 years old).

From here on out, I’ve been an adult longer than I’ve been a kid.

When you get to this point in your life, you start to take stock of what you have done with your life since childhood. You start thinking about stuff you have learned as an “adult” and what you wish you would have known when you were 18.

Are there things you would want to tell yourself of the past? There are a few things I would want to tell “me.”

Here’s my list.

  1. Your weaknesses don’t go away.

    Weaknesses you had when you were 18 are still present at 36. They don’t ever go away. You need to learn to deal with them.

  2. You can’t please everyone.

    When I was 18, I labeled myself a “people-pleaser” and would change my persona to “fit in” with the group of people I wanted to hang out with. This leaves you open to compromise your beliefs.

  3. Know WHY you believe what you believe.

    Why is what you believe true? Learn to think critically. Some people hold “equality” as the ideal principle to strive to achieve, some hold “stability” as their ideal, and still others choose “morality.” What do you hold as an ideal to strive to achieve? Why are you right?

  4. Your decisions don’t just effect you.

    They don’t even just effect your family. Your decisions effect you, your future kids, your future grandkids, future GREAT-grandkids (etc) and EVERYONE they affect in the future. When my grandfather was 18, he was a Marine storming the beaches of Iwo Jima. He chose to join the Marines (I am forever grateful). He was wounded twice and could have died at any time, which would have meant none of my Dad’s family would have been born, I wouldn’t have been born, my kids would never have been born, and you wouldn’t be reading this lovely blog post.

  5. Marriage isn’t “settling down.” 

    You may not even BE married at this point. Maybe you won’t even WANT to get married. Getting married isn’t a fairy-tale happy ending. It’s not an ending at all. Like anything, you have to continually WORK at marriage and CHOOSE to love your spouse every day. The “perfect person” you have all picked out will have flaws you will need to get used to. And here’s a tip… YOU HAVE SOME FLAWS TOO. You will be in for a big surprise if you think that being married is less stressful than being single.

  6. Having kids isn’t like “having a pet.”

    When you have kids, your life no-longer belongs to you. You have people depending on you to not only provide for them, but to train them to independently thrive in a world that you are still figuring out yourself. It is one of the most trying/gratifying experience you will ever know.

  7. There is NOTHING wrong with a community/junior college.

    Don’t get me wrong. I met my wife and made some great friends in college. But if I’m being honest, I only use maybe 1 class from my entire college experience. I went to a D3 private school JUST TO PLAY BASEBALL and it took 17 years to pay off that student loan debt.

  8. Don’t isolate yourself from your parents. 

    When you get older, they might be your only babysitting option when you need a “night out.”

  9. Life isn’t fair. 

    That is not an observation. It is a fact.

    In this life, we will lose loved ones, we will battle with broken relationships, sickness and disease, poverty, loneliness, abuse, violence, and every other possible thing imaginable. Bad things will happen to good people. Bad people will get away with unspeakable horrors.

    The true test of our character lies not in how we react to the adversity that will inevitably happen, but how we handle and overcome that adversity to grow as a person.

    I believe we all have our own “mountains” to climb in life. Some people’s mountains will be taller than others, but it is on each one of us to climb them.

    If we spend all of our time complaining that “this person’s” mountain isn’t as hard as ours to climb, or complain about the inequalities of mountain sizes amongst our society, we will lose sight of OUR personal mountain called “life” in front of us and we will not accomplish what we are called to do.

  10. You will feel like you were just 18 a few years ago for the rest of your life. 

    After school is done, time speeds up, and there is nothing you can do about it. You will begin thinking about what age your parents were when they had YOU and how old you are now, or how old your grandparents were when you were born and how old your parents are now. You will be able to accurately gauge how long (or short) a full human life-span actually is…For some, it can be terrifying, for others, it is inspiring.

    Know who you are.

If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice about life, what would it be?

Jason Reynolds
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Jason Reynolds

Jason is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He is also a parent of Jonny (8) and Jonah (3) who was diagnosed with Autism in December 2016.
Jason Reynolds
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