Today is my 28th birthday!
I don’t know which realization is more weird – officially being in my “late 20s” or being out of high school for 10 years? It’s amazing what all can happen in just one decade, how much changes over time.
Looking back at 18-year-old Michelle makes my heart break a bit. I was a different person then – so weak, boy-crazy and easily influenced. On my 18th birthday, I used my Weight Watcher flex points to eat a bunch of this amazing Oreo fluff stuff that my aunt makes. (Lou Ann, your Oreo fluff is amazing. Never stop making it!) And I’m pretty sure I cried about a boy, just because I was overly dramatic.
There are so many things I want to tell that girl! I know I can’t change anything, and there’s no sense in dwelling on what I would change. The past decade has shaped the vision I have for my life now. I know what I’m here to do, and I know what’s most important.
Learning from Your Inner Mentor
My 18th birthday happened to be the day before my high school graduation. With it being graduation season again now, I’m seeing a lot of social media memes prompting the question, “what advice do you wish someone told you at your high school graduation?”
I’ve been thinking about that question, because now I actually ask myself what my older self would tell me to do. In the past couple years I’ve been implementing the idea of learning from your inner mentor, AKA yourself 10 years in the future. (I got this idea from Tara Mohr’s Playing Big, an exceptional book that all females should read!) The premise is to – rather than always taking heat from your inner critic – take guidance from the you that you want to be 10 years from now.
I certainly didn’t turn to my 28-year-old self when I was 18. Because like any teenager, I knew everything, right? And if I didn’t have the answers, my other 18-year-old friends did.
In case that 18-year-old girl is out there listening, here’s what I’d tell her:
Dear 18-Year-Old Self…
You can do anything you set your mind to, seriously.
I know you wouldn’t believe that you will run a marathon, or 9 half marathons, or start your own business. Heck, right now you don’t even believe you’ll play volleyball in college. How quickly you’ll see that hard work pays off!
Whatever you believe and want badly enough, you have the ability to make happen. The ability is always there, but you need to have the drive and determination to pursue it. If you can stop thinking about boys for 5 minutes, you can get to work faster on making your dreams come true.
Stick to your values.
I know what you’re thinking: Yeah, okay, Mom.
But for real. You’re 18 years old. By now you have a good sense of who you are and what’s important to you. Be proud of who you are. Don’t be ashamed and don’t try to change for anyone. Along those lines…
You are enough.
You don’t need a boy to validate your worth. You don’t need to look a certain way. You don’t need to get drunk to stand out.
Be yourself, embrace your weirdness, and know that everything you bring to the table is enough. Avoid comparing yourself to others. One day you’ll see how stupid that is!
PS. You’ll still need to remind yourself of this when you’re 28.
Show your friends how much they mean to you.
That saying about “boys come and go but friends never leave?” It’s so true. Your best friends from high school – and the ones you’ll come across along the way – are going to be there for you, even after you repeatedly put boyfriends first or try to fit in with the wrong crowd.
They’re going to continue to be there for you when all of those relationships fail. They’ll be there when you lose loved ones. They’ll chase the marathon route in Des Moines on a cold October day to cheer you on for the 10 seconds you run by them. They’ll find creative ways to support your business, and any of your goals, really.
They’ll stand up with you on your wedding day. Heck, they’re even going to go out of their way to make sure you have the perfect bridal panties, even though you drug them out to the middle of Iowa. (#friendsforever)
Those girls rock. Be good to them.
Embrace academics in college.
You might not believe it now, but you’re going to miss the time when your only responsibility was to learn. You’ll miss being taught things.
And, you’re going to spend the next 10 years or so paying a nice monthly loan bill for all those classes you either didn’t pay attention in or skipped altogether. Make those loan payments worth it.
Get healthy, not skinny
Yes, your eating habits suck right now. You can’t live your best life on pizza and ice cream, no matter how happy it makes you in the moment. Of course it’s catching up with you in extra weight and that makes you uncomfortable, but don’t change your eating habits for the sake of being “skinny” and “hot.”
Change your eating habits because you’re worth it. You’ll have more energy for volleyball. You won’t have that nasty eczema that you’ll get for the next 6 years. You won’t have as bad of digestion issues. You’ll. Feel. Awesome.
Forget Weight Watchers. Forget counting calories. Just make a point to eat more vegetables and less sugar and beer for now, okay? Put the focus on eating well, not weighing less.
Keep doing things that scare you.
Even though I’m being a bit hard on you now, I know you’re going to do great things as well, like take a trip to London right after you go through the scariest time of your life. You’re going to move to Orlando without a job because you want to take a risk. You’re going to run a marathon. You’re going to leave a well paying, full-time job with great benefits because you’d rather pursue what you love. And you’ll kick butt at that, too!
You have that ambition and courage now, and that’s going to help you grow in so many ways. Embrace it!
Save your damn money.
You just spent your senior year of high school working 2 jobs with no bills to pay. You have $3,000 of your own hard-earned money in your savings account. You don’t see the value in that when you first get to college and for the first time in your life, you live in the same town as a mall and good restaurants.
You are going to wish you had that $3,000 soooo many times in the next 10 years! When you go to London and Paris, when you move to Orlando, then Iowa. When you have to have surgery. When you get married. When you start your own business.
Learn about money. Listen to your mother when she tells you to save it. It’s far more embarrassing when your husband has to nag you about it.
Use your voice.
Speak up as often as possible. Voice your opinion and don’t let people walk all over you. It’s okay if your voice shakes, or even if you cry. The more you do this, the easier it will become. The more respect you’ll receive.
Make as many connections as possible.
Especially in college. You have this whole campus of genius professors who know tons of other people who can help guide you in your career. Stop worrying about impressing your peers and focus on making connections with the adults.
Write your heart out.
Write anything and everything. Write for the heck of it. With every hour of practice, you get that much better. You’ll be that much closer to writing something that helps someone else.
Stop looking for the right guy.
You’re not ready for him yet. At the right time, he’ll find you. And he will be well worth the wait.
Your 28-Year-Old Self
I’ll be honest, I absolutely love getting gifts! I think it is so exciting that someone thinks of you when they see something, even if it’s something as small as a bookmark you can color (definitely in my top 5 gifts, thanks Mom!).
This is why I also love giving gifts! For my birthday, I want to give one special blog reader a favorite natural stress reliever of mine – doTERRA’s Balance essential oil. This essential oil is a grounding blend that promotes tranquility while bringing harmony to the mind and body, and balance to the emotions. I put it on the bottoms of my feet every morning 🙂
All you have to do is leave a comment telling me one thing you’d like to tell your 18-year-old self, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win the Balance essential oil blend! Share this post on Facebook and tag Naturally Ever After, and you’ll be entered twice!