The Advice I Would Give To My 18-Year-Old Self

by Paul Hudson
Lauren Naefe

History repeats itself. Why? Because most of us don't take the time to look back, reflect and learn from our mistakes. We go from day to day doing what we feel like doing, with little thought as to whether or not what we are doing is what is best for us. We often complain about our circumstances and spend much of our days, dreaming about a brighter, happier future. Life is here to teach us — and it does so, constantly.

All we need to do is to take a moment to listen to its lessons. Think back to the last 10 years of your life; what should you have done differently? What were the mistakes that you made and how should you have learned from them? If you could sit down with 18-year-old you and give yourself advice, what would it be? History will repeat itself unless you learn now and use what you learn to change the next decade of your life.

1. College is easier than real life; enjoy it while you can.

I remember growing up thinking how I can't wait until I am done with school and can finally get a real job! What the hell was I thinking? Instead of going to school full-time, not having to work and dedicating myself to my education, I wanted to work and pay bills. Why was I in such a hurry? We all believe the future holds things that it rarely ends up holding.

If I could choose going back to school while at the same time living comfortably or having to work in order to support myself, I would choose school in a heartbeat. I wish I had focused more on school while in school — allowed myself to enjoy it more rather than counting the seconds until it was over.

2. You are not and will not be ready to settle down for a long time.

I'm a romantic at heart. I fell for a girl for the first time when I was 17 — head over heels. We had an…interesting relationship to say the least. We did love each other and we did hate each other a little bit as well. All in all, I can't say that I regretted the relationship. What I wish I understood, however, is how unready I was to settle down.

I feel that many come to the same conclusion. The saying “It's not you; it's me” was coined as a result. I would tell myself to take things slow, explore a bit. I would sit down with 18-year-old me and tell me that although you may be in love, you are too hungry for success to focus on anything else.

3. When the time comes and you fall in love, do everything in your power to stay that way.

Love is rare. If you find it and are ready for it, do all that you can to hold onto it. Love is a scary thing and we sometimes feel as if the only way to control it is to consume it, dive in headfirst. This is a mistake; I know that now. The only thing that staying in love requires more of is control. We need to control ourselves not to give too much of ourselves to the apple of our eye or too little, for that matter.

We must learn to control how much we expect from our lover and control how we react to those habits that we aren't so pleased with. I would love to go back in time and tell myself that the most important thing you can do in a relationship is to separate yourself a bit — to continue living a life of your own. In this way, you are sure to keep the love alive.

4. Partying isn't worth it.

I enjoy a good party just as much as the next guy, but let's be honest: we could live without them. I party a lot less now than I did when I couldn't drink legally. I wish I understood how dumb I would find the nightlife scene in NY to be a few years down the road. You find the same people in the same places week after week.

You can skip a few months and go back to the same bar or club and you will see the same people as you did months before—just more worn out from all the booze and drugs. I would have saved a ton of time and money had a partied less and would definitely not be worse off for it.

5. It's not what you know, but whom you know that matters.

Networking is the only good excuse for going out. Unless you go out to socialize and make friends whom are living lives of worth, then you should stay home and catch up on your reading or sleep. I can understand going out to pick up men or women, but going out to drink and mingle with people whom have nothing of worth to say is stupid.

On that note, I wish I could tell myself to do everything with a purpose. If you have no reason to do something then don't do it. And if you have a reason for doing it then make sure that you achieve what you set out to achieve.

6. If you don't plan on finishing, then don't start.

I have started countless projects, but have only finished a handful. There is nothing that wastes more time than starting something that never gets finished. If it doesn't ever come to fruition then it never should have been started. It was a waste of time and energy. You are now worse off than you were before you undertook the project. No matter what, you need to force yourself to finish. Learning to set and meet deadlines is a skill I wish I had learned a long time ago.