Dear 18 year old Jenn.

HS Graduation

Seeing all the Facebook posts about college kids heading back to school (or heading there for the first time) has made me reminisce that transitionary summer in my own life 10 whole years ago.  So in lieu of it being the year of my 10 year reunion, I thought I’d come up with a list of 10 things I’d tell my 18 year old self knowing what I know now. (Since I’m so much wiser in my old age of 28…)

  1. Be an individual. There were definitely times in high school and college when I liked something just because another girl in school had it. I was too insecure to figure out what I liked best and sport it with confidence. Everyone is unique, and I think that uniqueness makes everyone special. Own your individuality and be confident in who you are, even if it’s different than everyone else.
  2. Don’t take life too seriously. Yes, there are serious aspects to life, but make sure to loosen up and laugh at yourself. Life’s too short to be so uptight you can’t enjoy it. (Like in this picture…such a serious thing: prom dresses.)Prom
  3. Make your own decisions. When I was younger, I was always so concerned about what other people thought, I had a hard time making decisions. (And still to this day I’m incredibly indecisive…) I made a lot of decisions based on what other people did, or what other people thought I should do, that I never really figured out what I wanted. This may have been part of the reason I ended up transferring colleges after one year, and changing my major, only to realize I wasn’t really interested in that major after all. Figure out what you are interested in, what you want, and go for it! 
  4. Save your money! Ugh, I’m SUCH a spender. When I think about all the money I’ve thrown away on dumb stuff over the years, I could just cry. I could probably buy a nice (used of course) car with all the money I spent frivolously over the years. When you’re young, you live in the now, and don’t really look ahead to houses, bills, kids and cars. Or at least I didn’t. Even if it’s just a portion of what you bring in, SAVE SAVE SAVE. 
  5. Don’t care so much about your weight. My weight has always been a struggle for me. But as I look back on pictures of myself from high school, I can’t help but see now how skinny I was! I wasn’t a stick, but I was thin! Our culture puts such pressure on young girls to look like wafer thin models, that we have a hard time seeing the beauty in our own bodies. I wish I could go back in time and shake myself while saying, “Shut up! You’re skinny, young and beautiful! Be confident in your body!”
  6. Choose your friends wisely, and don’t let the good ones go. This one I definitely got right. To this day, I’m still friends with all the girls in these pictures, and some of them I’ve known since elementary school. We’ve been through some big things together, and I know that even if we’re living in separate zip codes, they’ll always have my back. (And yes, I’ve always been the only blonde in most of my friend groups…part of that whole individuality thing I suppose…) ;)The girls
  7. Make time for family. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized more and more how very important family is. I wouldn’t say I didn’t appreciate my family when I was younger, but I think I’d just make sure I always knew how important it was. I’ve been able to understand myself more through relationships in my family, and have grown to realize that aside from God, family is the most important thing in life. cousins
  8. Don’t worry about boys. Yea I know, try saying this to any high school girl and she’ll probably just roll her eyes. I never really dated much throughout high school and college (Stuart was my first REAL boyfriend!). And because of that, I was so preoccupied with why I never had a boyfriend, how to get my current crush to notice me and how to make myself “date-worthy.” I wish I could go back and just tell myself, don’t waste your time! The right one will come along, but in the meantime, find other things to be interested in…life is so much more than boys! Besides, when the right one comes along, you’ll know, and then your life will change forever. And even then…you’ll still need your girlfriends. Girlfriends
  9. Make sure to have a little fun in college (but also get good grades.) I remember my brother telling me one time, that college is more than acing every exam. (I suppose, unless you’re pre-med, or in law school or something super serious, which I was NOT.) Besides getting a degree, college is about becoming your own person, figuring out how to live on your own, and experiencing new things. Of course, I would never say it’s ok to ignore your studies and flunk out, but make sure to live a little and enjoy this time, because you’ll never have as much free time and freedom as you do in college!  
  10. Don’t forget your First Love. I saved this one for last, because in my opinion it’s the MOST important. As you graduate high school and head to college, it’s probably your first taste of independence. Which can cause a lot of young adults to get sucked into the wrong things. It can sometimes be hard to navigate how to make your belief in God your own now that your parents aren’t making you go to church, or you don’t have youth group every week to remind you to pray and read your Bible. So it’s even more important to figure out how to have your own personal relationship with Jesus, and never forget that He is the most important thing in your life. I was lucky to have great friendships and organizations, such as Cru, that helped keep me accountable throughout college, but there are definitely some times in my college years, when life could’ve been a lot easier if I had gone to Jesus first. 

 

What are some things you’d tell your 18 year old self, knowing what you know now?