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What I wish I would’ve known when I was 18.

Originally published 11/12/2012

This weekend, I witnessed an older teenager crying at the mall. Her friend had her arm protectively placed around her shoulders and was whispering things like, ‘He’s a jerk’, ‘He doesn’t deserve you’, and ‘You’ll find someone much better’. I wanted to run up to her and assure her that even though I didn’t know the situation, I could guarantee all the things her friend was saying to her, and more, were true. But then I remembered being 18 and having my heart-broken. I would never have welcomed some crazy stranger with well-meaning advice butting her nose into my business. So, I just walked by. But seeing that really made me think about all of the things I wish I would’ve known when I was her age. So, along with ‘You will survive heartbreak’, here are a few other things I wish I would have known when I was 18:

1. I wish I would’ve known that it was OK to stand up to others. Whether I stood up for myself or for the many others that didn’t have the courage to stand up for themselves, I wish I would’ve learned it was okay (even admirable) to do so. I remember times when I saw people being bullied, saw things happening that shouldn’t have been and witnessed any other number of things that I didn’t agree with, and I just didn’t say something. Sometimes I wanted to speak up so badly I could hear the screaming in my head, but the words never came out of my mouth.  There are times when people just can’t find their own voices and it’s nice when someone is able to give them one.

2. I wish I would have learned that drama is never ever worth putting up with. If someone over the age of 18 can’t be a reliable, sane, rational adult on a regular basis, they’re not worth the energy it takes to have them in your life. Don’t ever forget that. One day you will look back at the people who are no longer in your life and wonder why you didn’t cut them out sooner. Also know there are functioning adults in today’s society who still thrive off drama. This is not acceptable. You may have to cut the drama-driven people out of your life in your 20’s and 30’s. This is not only okay, but will lead to a more positive and joy-filled existence for you.

3. Some of the biggest disappointments you will experience in your life will not be because of others, but because of your expectations of others. Learn this as early as possible. You will place expectation, big and small, on others and then be disappointed when they don’t live up to them. The sooner you can learn to stop doing this, the sooner you will enjoy the amazing things you will receive. If someone isn’t loving you in the way you want, understand they may be loving you in the only way they know how. This doesn’t make them wrong. This just means your expectations of them are different from what they are able to offer. This also goes for life. Stop thinking things ‘should be’ a certain way and accept and embrace them for what they are. You will find so much more happiness and fulfillment this way.

4. Love is a choice; it’s not magic. You may find someone who you have an amazing connection with, but it takes an effort to prevent that from fading. There is no such thing as ‘the one’. You are not destined for any relationship other than the one you help create. Spend enough time with another loving person, and biology eventually kicks in. So use your head and find someone you really enjoy spending time with and who you feel like your best self with. This will bring you the most long-term happiness.

What’s making me smile right now:

A quote to live by.

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