18 Lessons I Learned at 18
As today is my 19th birthday, I’ve been reflecting on just how much I’ve changed and learned about myself in the past year. Listed below are some of the concepts I’ve started thinking by, some things I wish I would’ve known when I was younger, and some events that have shaped my year and my life. Here’s to the next year!
1. Random acts of kindness
A few months ago my car slid off the road and got stuck in the snow. A complete stranger stopped and helped me dig out the wheels and saw me safely back onto the road. Ever since then, I feel like it’s my duty to pay that kindness forward!
2. It’s okay to reach out first in friendships
Towards the end of the May, I began to drift apart from a close friend of mine. We didn’t fight, we just never hung out outside of school. We went all summer without talking until around Halloween she asked me if I wanted to go to a Haunted Trail, which we’d done together for the past several years. I realized that if I would’ve set my pride aside and reached out first, we would’ve been friends all along.
3. Embrace new situations and new people
2015 was the year I started at University, where I only knew a few people and I had no idea what to expect. It’s turning out to be a great ongoing experience with new classes and people to meet constantly!
4. I’m not a risk taker
This is something I learned about myself this year. When I turned 18, I played the lottery a bit and went to some of the casinos near my house. I didn’t enjoy it at all. The entire atmosphere was so not me and I don’t like gambling in general. Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t pick up the habit!
5. I actually need to study
I was one of those annoying people who got good grades in high school without picking up a book. College is a very different story! I’m still not an intense studier, but there’s a lot of satisfaction involved with putting in hard work and having it show up in your grades.
6. Take initiative
When you really want something, you have to go for it! This just so happened to be in the form of a kitten. My old cat, Tyson, ran away last year and I spent months missing a feline friend (I’m a massive cat lady). When my friend adopted a kitten and later couldn’t keep it, I jumped on the opportunity and haven’t regretted it since!
7. Accept when you’re in the wrong
This is a hard concept to learn. I have very strong opinions, but sometimes they are the wrong opinions and it’s important to open your mind and let them go.
8. It’s cool to be intelligent
This lesson is pretty self-explanatory! I was always self-conscious in high school about being considered nerdy, but I’ve turned full circle. I genuinely love learning and I’ve started learning about certain things outside of school.
9. The hardest part is starting
For the longest time I wanted to start a blog, start a YouTube channel, etc. I planned out posts and videos for MONTHS. I eventually did it, and I’ve found a new passion! I wish I would have started earlier.
10. Life is short
On December 13th, a boy I grew up with passed away from a drunk driving incident that was not his fault. We hear it all the time, ‘life is short’, but it didn’t strike me how true it is until that tragedy happened.
11. My life plan is different from everyone else’s, and that’s okay
Around the age of 18 there is a lot of pressure to decide what you want to be, where you want to live, and generally have your life planned out. I’ve realized that my future seems a bit different from other people I know. That’s not to say that other people’s plans seem bad, just that it isn’t right for me.
12. You can’t be the best at everything
I was a competitive swimmer for nine years during elementary, middle, and high school. My last season wasn’t a very good one for me, which was hard to deal with at first, but I had so much fun and that’s all that matters.
13. Be a kid again occasionally
I embraced my love of coloring and Disney movies this year. Sometimes you grow out of the things you love, and sometimes you rediscover them. I find coloring so relaxing and Disney movies are (almost!) better now than when I was a kid!
14. Shopping is cool, but so is saving money
Budgeting was an issue that I solved this year. I’ve never been a saver, but I’ve found a happy medium between saving and spending with my paychecks!
15. Time management
My planner has been a lifesaver since I started University. I honestly think I’ll be using one for the rest of my life. I’ve managed to stop procrastinating and I haven’t forgotten a homework assignment once.
16. Spotlight effect
As a psychology major, one of the concepts I learned about is called the Spotlight Effect. To put it simply, everyone feels as if everyone they meet notices everything about them, from a tiny pimple to a conversation blunder. In actuality, the people we meet are thinking the same things—about themselves. Learning this was a massive weight off of my chest, and I’ve become much less self-conscious.
17. Trust yourself and your instincts
Before starting college, I was very worried that I had picked the wrong major, the wrong school, etc. I know what’s best for me, and I shouldn’t doubt myself so much.
18. It doesn’t matter what other people think
A few years ago I wouldn’t have been confident enough to wear bright lipstick, say what I genuinely think, or start a blog. As an 18 year old I learned that I truly don’t care what people think. My own happiness is more important than stranger’s perceptions. Therefore, this is perhaps the most important lesson that I learned and want to continue in my last year as a teenager!
What's the most important thing you learned this year?