On the morning of February 18th 2016, a friend and I woke up at 5am and drove to the top of a mountain to watch the sky filter through shades of peach, mango and salmon; the beginning of the Earth’s 1.5 million mile traverse around the sun for the day. The beginning of my life as an 18-year-old.
My 18th year was filled with golden waves of happiness, cracks of light disappointment and long ribbons of memories to cherish. Throughout the year, I continued to grow and evolve, learning a plethora of lessons that one generally masters in their first year of decisions and independence. To everyone stepping forward into the next phase of their lives, this list is for you.
- Being 18 does not mean you are automatically an adult.
Woah, shocker. The answers to life’s mysteries are not instantly uploaded to your brain the moment you wake up on your first day of so-called ‘adulthood.’ Newsflash: adulthood doesn’t come until much later- it’s not so much an age as a feeling. I still find myself ringing my Mum on the daily, asking things like “Why do I need a degree in symbology to read these stupid parking signs? HELP!” So yeah, being 18 does not mean you’re going to suddenly know what to do all the time.
- Understand yourself and develop your brand.
Humans can’t be defined by a style or a list of words, as we are ever evolving and growing. However, knowing what you’re about- from your religious beliefs to your personal aesthetic- can make you feel incredibly content with yourself. I really can’t stress how important it is to find yourself.
- You can only try your best at university.
I received straight As for every single term of grade 12. You can only imagine how disheartened I was when I realised I wasn’t hitting top marks for every single subject at uni! But what matters is that you try your best, and don’t get too hung up on the lower grades, because in the end everyone receives the same degree.
- Don’t drink too much.
A friend gave me this advice at the beginning of the year, and needless to say I so did not listen. I constantly found myself waking up with a hangover that could only be cured with vegemite toast. Two things I was unaware of: 1. Do not mix alcohol with cold-and-flu tablets. 2. Double-black smirnoffs means DOUBLE strength. Also, KNOW YOUR LIMITS.
- ALWAYS stand up for yourself.
If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, they should know about it. Don’t accept catcalls or inappropriate comments, and especially don’t let people undermine you.
- Educate yourself on social issues.
This is the most important one!! Be part of the change, and get involved. I voted for the first time this year, and I didn’t want my voice to go to waste. I’d never been politically oriented, but it’s so easy to find out which party you align with by reading up and educating yourself. If there’s an issue circulating our world that you don’t understand but want to know about, then research it and form your own perspectives.
- Do what makes you passionate.
Find what makes your eyes sparkle, find what makes you lean in that little bit closer and has you chatting for hours. Grab it and fill your days with it.
- Envy is ridiculous.
Success is different for everyone. Heaps of my friends dropped out of uni after their first semester, but that doesn’t make them a ‘failure’ in the slightest. It’s okay to not know what you’re doing.
- “I don’t have time to…” is not a matter of time, but a matter of priority.
Think about it. If someone asked you to write a 3000 word essay, you might say, “I don’t have time, because of…” and then proceeded to rattle off a list of excuses. If somebody said they would pay you $1M to write that 3000 word essay, I’m pretty sure those excuses wouldn’t find their way to your tongue. Time is only a matter of priority. If someone says they don’t have time to see you, then they aren’t worth yours.
- Choose your friends wisely, and make time for them.
I have a very tight group of friends I consider family and would do anything for, from sitting with them through a rough phone call to spending four hours watching them prepare for formal. On the other hand, leaving school meant cutting ties with a grade of 350 people. I barely see any of them whatsoever, which sounds upsetting but it’s hard to keep friendships thriving when I already have a cluster of people I love. This year I’ve made a couple new friends I love with all my heart as well, so people will always be coming and going.
- What people say about you has nothing to do with you.
A few times this year I heard stories of people talking about me, and 100% of the time none of it was true, whatsoever. These people have only seen a sliver of your life and make assumptions for their own benefit. I was really surprised that I actually didn’t care, even a little bit. I think it’s just because I know who I am and nothing anybody says can change that.
- Love and appreciate your family.
They do so much for me, and I definitely don’t say thank you enough. For Christmas, my brother spent an hour breathing air into a blow-up dragon pool toy, and then even attempted to wrap it! My parents have picked me up at 2am from sticky situations, and are always doing what’s best for me, even when I roll my eyes at them. Sorry for being an ungrateful pain, I LOVE YOU ALL.
- Be kind to your body.
It’s up to you to exercise, eat healthily, get enough sleep. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so be kind to your brain, too.
- Stay creative.
Look for art in everything, from the smear of leftover blueberry juice on a plate to the yellow painted lines in a drab car-park. It makes life just that little bit more colourful.
- Everything happens for a reason.
The universe has a track for everyone, and we all meld into these invisible tracks worn into the air we breathe and the dirt we stand in, whether we recognise it or not. Remember this whenever anything bad happens.
- Don’t get caught up in boys.
So I met a few booyyss this year and had a few cuuutttee dates. Even though none of them lasted too long, I had so much fun! In the grand scheme of things, the only thing I wish I knew was that in order to join paths with someone else it’s really important to understand yourself first, as I mentioned in #2.Knowing yourself is like stitching a smooth canvas for experiences and connections to be painted across. Without that smooth surface, nothing is going to work.
- Nothing is permanent.
This is so bittersweet. Every bad moment you find yourself trapped in will pass: just breathe through it, look for the light. However, something I deeply struggle with is my constant recognition that every happy moment will pass, too. It’s so important to just accept this as it is, even if it brings tears, and live in that cheerful time you’ve been blessed with until it transforms into a memory.
- Go in with all the light you can manage.
This was the mantra that I discovered when I was 18. I live and breathe it: Be your best self- always shine your brightest light, always.