18 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Turned 18

by Jennifer Wilga
Originally Published: 
A girl smiling and looking to the camera wearing a pink top and afro curls

1. Make yourself a priority.

This is still a hard lesson for me to learn but the longest relationship you have is with yourself. It is so important that you put on your oxygen mask first. It is easier now but as you get older and as life gives you more responsibilities, it gets harder.

2. Be grateful.

If you spend time each day focusing on three things you are thankful for, it can change your perspective and attitude completely.

3. Be kind to yourself.

There are so many times I have been so hard on myself and have let my inner voice say the meanest things. I have said things to myself I would never say to other people. I have learned that I need to have my own back.

4. Forgiveness is not about others; it is for yourself.

Learning this lesson over the course of your life gives you freedom. It stops allowing that person to have an affect on how you are living your life now.

5. Will this matter in 10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years?

This statement I heard years ago, and it is a great way to put things in perspective and guide you in making decisions. I have used it to make decisions of all sorts for small and large events over the course of my life.

6. There is no such thing as work-life balance but work-life choices.

As you start a career there will have more responsibilities and may feel a struggle in how you “do it all”. I have learned you cannot have it all. The scale is never balanced. Your choices will have different impacts. It is okay. See #3.

7. Wear sunscreen.

I know this is such a “mom thing”, but I wish I took this more seriously when I was younger. All those freckles on my chest were not there in my prom pictures. They came from years of laying out with baby oil. Get a spray tan. It looks better anyway.

8. Break a sweat every day.

This has become more mental for me than anything else. I have learned I never regret it and it has helped me manage stress and get rid of the “ya-ya’s” for me.

9) Life happens in the moments when you are waiting for something.

So many times, I have subconsciously wished away time as I wait for a big event to happen. Some of the best moments of my life have been spontaneous and unplanned. Life is too short.

10. Not everyone is going to like you.

This one is a hard lesson to learn. It took me until I turned 40 to finally start to grasp this. Its not easy but it is freeing to accept this.

11. Make yourself proud.

If you can look yourself in the mirror each night as you brush your teeth and have lived your day with integrity and kindness, then the world is a better place because you are in it.

12. You can never find time – you choose how to prioritize it.

We all are given the same amount of time each day. The most successful people in life plan their day and do not let the day run them. Prioritize the things that are most important to you first.

13. Always bet on yourself.

The world and people can be cruel sometimes. At all costs, always bet on yourself. You can accomplish anything where you put attention, focus, and grit.

14. Surround yourself with people who fill your bucket.

Spend time with people that lift you up, make you laugh so hard your stomach hurts and give you energy.

15. If you put your problems in the center of the room, you would take yours back.

My grandma used to always say this, and it is so true. Everyone is going through something and if you only knew the weight of the burdens that they carry, you would count your troubles as blessings. Perspective is a gift.

16. You grow when you are uncomfortable.

You will never accomplish anything truly meaningful by staying in your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to dare greatly and take risks. If you bet on yourself (see #13), the worst that happens is you learn a lesson.

17. Control what you can control.

This is a saying that my Dad had drilled into us from the time we were young. I say this to myself (and you) a lot over the years. Do not waste your time on things you have no control over. Put energy and focus into things you can control.

18. Call your Mom.

OK. I had to put this one in, but this is why: I have loved you since you were a thought. I will always be here for you, rooting for you and being your biggest cheerleader. Sometimes, when life gets hard, a call with your mom makes you realize things are going to be alright. I know it still does for me. And as I get older, and my friends’ moms are no longer with us., I appreciate the gift of those phone calls even more. I will always have your back and bet on you!

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