10 things I wish someone told me when I was 18

1. Map out a simple career plan (or goals) It’ll get you started. And let that plan guide you. Remember the episode in Seinfeld, where George Costanza walked out on his job, and had no idea what to do next? That is terrifying! Seriously, start thinking about what you plan to do for the better part of your life. Or, you’ll end up wasting thousands of dollars getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology, wondering what the heck you’re supposed to do with it. It’s ok to switch jobs; I’ve done that a few times (4 to be exact). But I was always sure about what I eventually wanted to do. It’s scary when a friend tells me they’ve no idea what they want to do. They drag themselves to work each day. The last time that happened I left my job. No, wait. They fired me. And I’m glad they did. I’m much happier!

2. Your first love is called first, because there will be others. Unless you’re really, really (feel free to add a few more lucky(s)) lucky, you’ll have your heart broken a few times, and mauled beyond the ability to feel. A few damned times. So, don’t fall too hard for the next guy/girl too quickly. Also, be honest and identify what went wrong and you’ll be a better partner for the next one. If you’re over analysing things, stop. If you have low self-esteem, don’t get into a relationship until you learn to love yourself. It’s not fair to project those fears on the person you’re with either, right?

 3. Brains > Beauty 
Looks matter, but it shouldn’t take over your life in any wayAnd almost everyone looks awkward with a bad haircut before hitting 21 – unless your mum is Gwen Stefani, you will resemble one of the ugly step-sisters from Cinderella.  It’s about carrying yourself well. Who said you had to look like Scarlett Johansson (I love her – but I’m not aspiring to look like her) or one of the VS angels. It’s THEIR jobs to resemble sticks on stilts! Putting in an effort to look and feel good reflect a lot about how you view yourself; it’s self worth and it’s telling in the way you carry yourself. If you feel like a prize, you also act like a prize and people will treat you like a prize. You can be 20 kgs overweight, and still look good.

4. Words can be poisonous. You will let someone’s words get to you, and it’s ok to feel shitty about yourself when that happens. A lot of motivational quotes advise us not to let others get to us. But sometimes our walls crumble. We are thinking, feeling creatures. I think the key is to not take it too personally, and get over it as fast as you can, before it causes too much damage. Do whatever you have to. Torture your best friend, by talking about it like a broken recorder for the next 2 weeks. That’s what friends are there for. To remind us why they love us. Repay in kind when they need your listening ear. Took a 5 point damage to your armour? It’s good practise. This way, you’ll actually realise that your colleague’s scathing remark about your deformed feet sounds like a compliment! And while I’m at it, it’s worth remembering that we could be someone else’s personal nightmare. Therefore, be nice.

5. Always pick your battles. ALWAYS. This is one lesson I learnt the hard way. It applies to everything; your personal and professional aspects of your life. I know people say relationships get stronger after arguments. That’s true. But too many fights can wear the strongest relationship down. If it isn’t important, take the high road. Fight if you must. But fight to stay together, not push each other away. Fighting brings out the worst in ourselves, and oftentimes, you can never take back the words once they’re spoken. And sometimes, your significant other will never let it go. He’ll never talk about it, but it’ll always be there, at the back of his mind.

6. Just because you have money, doesn’t mean you have to spend it. I wish I had listened to my parents with this piece of advise. Easy to say, hard to do. We never fully appreciate this until we’re old enough. Right?

7. Invest in GOOD bras and panties. Ladies, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of wearing the right bra. Get yourself fitted by the boutique assistant, and try to buy a new bra every month, until you have at least 6 good ones for daily wear. Lingerie for sexy time doesn’t really count, because let’s face it; we wear it for them to take it off (and when we do take it off, we want to look good naked when everything is hanging loose) ;D But the one closest to your skin for at least 8 hours; invest in a bra/undie that lifts and supports. I’m a Wacoal convert, and my only regret is not investing in it sooner. Urgh.

8. Don’t be a tourist, be an explorer. Travel and explore as much as you can, and never rely on travel books for the “next hot cafe” or “best beach in Thailand” You know how that turns out right? It stinks. The Internet is a better place to turn to for information before setting forth. Discover your own favourite secret spots by getting lost. I’ve never regretted getting lost when I was overseas. But please don’t start exploring at 3am in the morning. That’s tempting fate. I once went around Bangkok in a taxi for an hour around 11pm, because I kept telling my cabbie, “Sukhothai” instead of Sukhumvit. Sukhothai is a flight away. Genius, right? Sleep deprivation does that. That night also turned out to be a surreal experience, complete with an explosion that caused a huge fire, and we lost a bag of dirty clothes. See? Priceless memories and stories to tell. Get lost today. The best experiences are the random ones. I can’t wait for my Japan trip!

9. Do something new, even if it isn’t the most exciting thing.  Pick up a hobby, start writing, go to pottery classes, or sway to some good music. Stimulate those brain cells. Don’t vegetate too much in front of the television, no matter how tempting that sounds. It makes you more interesting and you’ll appreciate this skill when you meet people. And the chances of meeting new people? So much higher when you do something new like signing up for AA (I kid…I kid…). It doesn’t get better than this. I plan on picking up a foreign language soon. I’ve been procrastinating for a while. Once I’m back from Japan, I’m signing up for either French or Italian. I can’t wait!

10. Everyone will tell you what to do, but there’s only one chair in the cockpit, and that chair has YOUR name on it. How you live your life is fully in your control. You don’t need to justify your actions to anyone but yourself. Disclaimer: This does not apply to criminals, ok? When people say “I don’t have a choice”, I wonder what they really mean. Because there’s always a choice. It may not always be the choice you want or like, but when that happens, suit up and take charge. In the end, do what you think is right. If it feels right to you, and you feel good about it, chances are, you’re on the right track. We do make our lives.
And… I’m off to bed.
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