If I could go back and meet my 18-year-old self face-to-face, there are probably 18 things I would have to tell her. You can call it a reminder or a warning, but these are actually the things I wish somebody had told me when I was 18. Thus, to my 18-year-old self, here are 18 things I wish I could tell you:
1. “Live in the present.”
Right now, you are nothing but precious fragments of innocence, beauty and life. Embrace it. Don't battle it. Whatever it is you're going through, live in it.
2. “Your life is not a checklist.”
Take note that life is not a sequence of events that goes like this: Get out of high school, go to a university, study something you may or may not like, graduate, apply and get hired for a stable, high-paying job with benefits, get married, build a family, travel when you're old and do whatever the hell you want to do as you enjoy the favorable whirlwind of life.
Don't get me wrong; you can do this. But understand that it will not be as elementary as checking your list and crossing out the things you've already fulfilled. It's a contrasting world out there, and until you get out of the comfort of your university or your parents' home, you won't fully comprehend what it's like to wage a war against life. It's not easy, but you have to combat it until you win.
3. “Expectations are not always met, baby.”
Real life isn't exactly how you envisioned it would be, or how people illustrated it for you. You may or may not land your dream job. You may or may not be able to buy your dream car or dream house.
You may or may not be what you'd always thought you'd be. But it's all good. Don't forget that you can also get redirected toward something grander.
4. “There are some things that can't be learned.”
Accept the fact that there will be certain things that can't be learned from school, church or whatever institution you enter. There will be things that people will never teach you. There will be things you'll only know because you've been through them.
5. “There will be some real painful sh*t.”
Life will knock you down at various times. It will throw rocks at you, and it will laugh at you each time you fall down. That's absolutely normal.
6. “Not everyone will be a star on your darkest night.”
People will damage you, and you will damage people. People will obliterate you, and you will obliterate people.
People will come and go. Understand that you have to get up and aid yourself. People can only do so much for you.
Soon enough, these bruises will vanish. There will be new people, new marks and new aches. But then, those will also fade. Whoever and whatever remained in you will eventually build up your true identity.
7. “You can't always get what you want.”
Yes. But sometimes, you just might get what you need.
8. “Stop comparing yourself to others.”
I know for a fact that you have a habit of comparing yourself to others. Sure, it might benefit you while you're in school because it will make you push yourself. But it will somehow become a fatal habit. So please stop.
You don't have to compare yourself. You don't have to attain what they have or be what they are to be happy. You can't be happy like that. You just can't. Trust me: You have to be satisfied and happy now, for now may be all you have. Don't overlook your blessings, darling.
9. “Stop faking it.”
Just be true to your real feelings. Honesty is truly the best policy, after all.
10. “Please be brave, even once in a while.”
You should know there's a massive world out there outside your comfort zone. Find your answers. Try whatever your heart desires you to try.
Unearth the concealed beauty of life. Experience the inconceivable.
11. “If you ever feel like things will never get better, know that they will.”
Things are always changing. Whatever your situation is right now, know that it can change.
12. “When someone tells you you can't do something, don't ever believe it.”
You have to try first before you give in to someone's remarks. You'll never know unless you try.
It doesn't matter if you've failed as long as you've tried. You know how strong you are. You know how much courage you have.
You can do it. Just try.
13. "When someone tells you you need something to be happy, say, 'f*ck it.'"
You should know that real happiness is not found on your bank statement, by your job title, by your body size or by your achievements. True happiness is found on the fingerprints you leave on people's lives.
Learn to be selfless, compassionate and generous to others. Inspire people and commit to reminding them that their misery is nothing but momentary.
14. "Life isn't at all easy."
It wasn't what we both thought it was. Life is not a piece of cake. There are challenges and struggles. There are downfalls.
It's not perfect. Sometimes, it's also cruel. It won't get any easier as time passes by. It will only get tougher and tougher, so you need to be stronger.
15. “Life is vast uncertainty.”
You can't prepare for what life fires at you. You can't prepare for life itself.
There's no exact lesson or warning you can heed in order for you to win this war. There's only so much people can teach you, and some of that may just be an idealized version of life.
Just keep in mind that everything is meant to be encountered. You have to experience it to learn, survive and overcome it. By overcoming it, you let yourself be immortalized.
16. “Whatever it is, you can do it.”
Whether or not you will do it, I just want you to know you can do it: OK? I just want you to know that someone out there actually believes in you.
I believe in you. Let that count for something, please.
17. “It will be crucial, but you are capable.”
It will be crucial to survive, but you are capable. I can't tell you exactly how to survive, however. Just believe me when I tell you it will all come together.
Things will settle into their rightful places, and you will be just fine.
18. “Someday, I hope you will not be disappointed.”
Someday, when you see me, and due to some change of plans or universal joke I'm not what you expected me to be, I hope you will not be dismayed. I hope you will not be sad over what I turned out to be.
I hope you will not be sad over all the broken dreams and failed goals. I tried. I tried very hard. So please don't be disappointed.