A while back, some of my favorite bloggers started a series called notes to my younger self, in which their older-wiser-selves gave advice to their younger-I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing-teen. It got me thinking about things I would tell 18 year old me. Probably this:
You’ve always had a pretty solid outline of your life in mind–not the specifics, but the bare bones plan. You’ll go to college either waaaayy out in the country where you can ride horses every day and pledge in a sorority, or in the middle of the hustle bustle – a big city like nowhere you’ve ever lived before. When you’re there, you’ll make all the best friends, teach them a thing or two about how to party, and meet your wonderful future husband, though you’ll wait a bit to actually tie the knot. You even checked to make sure the schools you’re applying to have the types of guys you’re interested in. After you graduate, you’ll find a job in publishing that pays plenty to get by on, since you’re shiny, new and college educated. Who wouldn’t want to hire you? You’ll go on to lead a fabulous life.
Well, sweet pea, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but things aren’t going to turn out just like that. But don’t panic, things won’t work out anything like you planned, but you’ll end up being pretty darn happy most of the time despite it all. And that part about it being a fabulous life? Well, that part was spot on.
Maybe Don’t Sign Up for More Loans
Let’s be real here, you don’t have any idea what amount of money that sum on a paper really means, or how many hundreds of payments that will break out into once you have to start paying it back. Take some time to think about if the benefit you’ll get will balance out the cost in the long run. It might be nice to not be saddled with that debt.
Just Go Ahead and Sign Up for the Peace Corps
Yes, I know, 2 years seems like an almost-eternity right now, but darling, you’re graduating in the beginning of a recession. You’re not going to get a professional job that reflects your educational level for quite some time anyhow, and volunteering to make the world a better place would be time better spent than serving people mimosas at brunch, no? Just do it.
Stop Panicking About Being Poor
You’re actually pretty good at it. You can make lentil soup for days, and truly enjoy all the free things the city has to offer. Trader Joe’s doesn’t make $3 wine for nothing. You also have some generous friends who aren’t poor. Your late 20’s are for feeling rich, having more than $50 in your bank account, and honey, you’ll appreciate the money so much more once you’ve lived without it. And that will make you pretty successful at saving it once you’ve got it.
Make a Plan Already
One day, all of your friends and coworkers will make fun of you for being their little planner who picks every restaurant, chooses every night out, and organizes group vacations. Can you believe it? Try doing a little of that in your own life. Sometimes all it takes to get what you want is to ask for it. Get clear on what that is, sooner rather than later.
Exercise Isn’t Overrated/Stop Eating So Much Taco Bell
I mean, if we can learn one thing (besides the whole substance abuse thing) from Nicole Richie, it’s this: Lay off the taco bell already, amirite? I know it’s delicious, and it’s the only thing that’s open late in your small town, but those midnight quesadillas aren’t doing any favors for your figure.
The time you spend hiking, on the elliptical, or in boot camp class will cheer you up AND help burn off those 5 frozen margaritas you just housed before they turn into a serious front butt.
Stop Being So Damn Impatient
The timelines we create in our minds for when we should have certain things (jobs, money, apartments, husbands), are usually pretty skewed and unrealistic. When you’re feeling frustrated that you don’t have what you want, just remember it will probably take double the time you thought it would, and that’s just fine. You’re just being impatient anyways.
And now, after all this advice, spoiler alert: You’ll get that job you’ve wanted. You’ll move downtown. It won’t be what you thought it would, but it’ll be pretty darn great.