My 28th birthday was yesterday, and while it’s not a milestone I’m finding myself saying “I’m almost 30!” a lot lately. Not in a bad way, more out of amazement at how quickly time seems to be going now. I’ve never been “scared” of getting older because with each year I seem to understand myself more. When I think back a decade ago to my then 18-year-old self I think of how far I’ve come. So in honor of my 28th birthday I am sharing five things I would tell my 18-year-old self.
First: It’s okay to be selfish sometimes. I used to think that being selfless was the way to go. Put others before yourself and in return people will do the same for you. Well that’s not true. In the end no one can take better care of you, than you! No one will look out for you and your best interests like you will. By putting yourself first, you are actually giving the people in your life the best version of yourself. At this point in my life I look at being selfish as healthy. Because I take care of myself, do things that make me happy, I am fulfilled. That makes me a better wife, daughter, friend, employee and so on.
Second: Working hard doesn’t always pay off. Well, at least not in the way you think it will. This is something I didn’t learn until I was in the professional world. I worked hard, busted my butt, became the best I could at my position. I thought that by working hard and proving myself I would be rewarded. But in some cases that just lead to empty promises and being taken advantage of. This was one of the best lessons I could have learned, because now I know my worth and how to position myself for success within the boundaries that I set for myself.
Third: Know your worth. In everything from relationships to the work environment. You have weaknesses, but you also have strengths. Know what you bring to the table and be proud of that. You don’t have to be a bully or confrontational to not let people walk over you. When you know you have something to contribute, people will match your confidence with the respect you deserve.
Fourth: Be kind. You will get so much further in life if you are kind to others. Being angry, disrespectful, rude may get you immediate results. Being kind pays you back ten-fold. I have always found that people are willing to go the extra mile for you when you are kind to them. If you are rude, they will do the minimum. Also, you feel better when you show someone kindness. Always remember that you don’t know what they might be dealing with. So never miss an opportunity to be kind.
Fifth: Be true to yourself. At the end of the day this is the most important. There is only one you. The other four things I’ve listed would mean nothing if you aren’t being true to who you are. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone. You won’t. Don’t worry about what other people will think. Chances are they aren’t even thinking about you. And if they are, don’t you want them thinking things like “who does she think she is doing (insert fabulous thing here).” Life is too precious to not do what makes you happy.
So there you have it. Five things I would tell my 18-year-old self. There are a million other things I would probably say if I had the chance to sit down with my 18-year-old self over coffee. But the truth is, it’s all about the journey and learning along the way. I don’t know it all, far from it. But I know these things for sure. xo Bryn