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“I’ve made a thousand mistakes but have zero regrets.” – Gary Baumgardner
With less than 24 hours to go until I turn 30, it feels like just yesterday that I was 18 and graduating from high school. The world was my oyster and I was ready for anything and everything. As I said in the above quote I have no regrets. That being said, if I could talk to my 18 year old shaggy-haired self, I would have a few things to say. My hope is that other young people can use my experiences to supplement a fun and prosperous 20’s. Here are my 7 things I wish I knew when I was 18.
1. Get Ready For Change
Close your eyes and imagine your future when you’re 30. Now open them and forget what you just saw. This isn’t to say you can’t have goals but most likely your future will be a lot different than how you imagine it right now. Some things better. Somethings worse. Most things will just be different. Not being able to accept change can be very toxic. The only thing you can really count on staying constant is change itself.
2. Challenge Your Beliefs
When I was 18 I tended to take things exactly as they were presented to me. School, media, parents etc. By the time you’re 18 most of your core beliefs have taken form. Most of these beliefs are shaped by your surroundings as you grow up. It’s not easy to do but you must accept the fact that some of your beliefs could be wrong. Don’t take anything as 100% truth. Stay as open minded as possible. Always be willing to learn. As the years go on, you’ll discover things you took for solid truth was nothing but a lie.
3. Stop Worrying
Worrying is a waste of an emotional reserve. You can always handle the present moment. You cannot however, handle a future scenerio made up in your mind that doesn’t exist. Your brain can’t control a scenario that isn’t real and an anxiety gap ensues. No matter how bad it seems, everything will work out. It always does. Many times I would worry about things that I had no control over. Constant worrying can ruin your quality of life and actually take a toll on your health physically. Trust me when I say it feels amazing when you finally let go for good.
4. Forgive yourself (and others)
You’re going to make A LOT of mistakes and so will everyone around you. It’s very important to accept them and learn from them. Falling outs will inevitably happen with friends. Do your best to forgive and forget. Don’t be too stubborn to apologize first. Realize that most of the stuff you are upset or worried about won’t matter in a year from now. In many cases it won’t matter days from now. No matter what the circumstance, you must be able to completely forgive others and yourself. Hanging on to hate and revenge will eat you from the inside out.
5. Life is Now
All you have is this current moment in life. Nothing else exists. Not 10 days ago or 10 years from now. All you have is now. Again, setting goals and having dreams are great but don’t let them become a means to an end. You’re in for a rude awaking if you think reaching milestone “x” will make your life better. Your twenties are an exciting time. Don’t miss them because you haven’t achieved something or don’t have something you wanted. I’ll leave you with a quote that I try and live by: “The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.”
6. Volunteer and Help Others
Arnold Schwarzenegger has 6 rules for success. His 6th rule is “Give back.” I couldn’t agree more. Our brains are designed to always want more. It helped us survive as human beings. Unfortunately that mentality can lead to a road of hopelessness. I personally remember having my “now what?” moment when I was 27. I had the job I had always dreamed of, a beautiful woman who loved me, great friends, family etc. Yet I was still much more happier when I had a lot less. To counter this you need to do 2 things:
1. Set new challenges and goals in your life.
2. Help others and volunteer. Helping others will replace that feeling of emptiness and far surpass the happiness you had when you would solely focus on yourself.
7. See the Glass Half-Full
Our brains can be the ultimate double edge sword. Unfortunately our brains are designed to constantly search for threats and imperfections. Again, great for our ancestors 10,000 years ago, not so much in this day and age. Tony Robbins once said “Change your focus, change your feeling.” If you’re constantly focused on the negatives and what you don’t have, you will constantly be miserable. On the other hand, if you focus on the positives and what you do have, life will seem much more pleasant. A way I’ve found to help myself with this is to remind myself of five things I’m thankful for overnight before I go to sleep.