At 18 years old, I wasn’t old enough to buy myself a drink – yet I was old enough to make all these major decisions that would shape the course of my life.
Not too long ago, I had a conversation with my little cousin, who is now getting ready to start college. I was somewhat shocked when I realized how much time has passed.
As I listened to him weigh in the pros and cons of his college choices and what he will be studying (Medicine vs Music). The only thing these two majors have in common is that they both start with the letter “M”.
He has always been musically gifted, but his mom’s dream is for him to be a doctor. Surprise surprise 🙂
He asked me what he should do with his life. I looked at him and it reminded me of my younger self. We talked for a little bit and I told him to start a blog. No joke, I really did 🙂
I know it is a lot easier to say “do what makes you happy” than to really do it. What makes me happy right now is to quit my job, but I am not doing it.
10 Life Lessons I Would Tell My 18-Year Old College Self
1. Move away for school
I never got to experience the college life. I lived at home. My dad always questioned where I was going even though I only wanted to go to the library to study on the weekend. He would question why I didn’t want to study at home.
Maybe that’s why I haven’t lived in the same state as my parents for more than a decade now.
2. Make an effort to make friends
Being older and work from home, I rarely meet new people. People my age are either married with kids, going through a divorce, or have given up on dating.
I tried Meetup when I first moved to California in hope of making some new friends. What I found is that these social events are more like a meat market for people to find dates.
I even went to a few female-only Meetup groups and most of them only had an hour to get away from their babies. They’re not really looking to make new friends. It’s understandable since people my age already have their own groups of friends that they hang out with.
3. Change my major
People that know me well often tell me that I am in the wrong field. I can’t say I disagree.
While my job has provided me with a regular paycheck and has allowed me to live a comfortable life. I can’t help but wonder if I would be happier doing something else.
I took a 3-week trip to Asia and during my trip, I would Google “Signs you’re burning out” or “When is it time to quit your job”. Yup…that’s what I was doing while on vacation.
When I was in college, I listened to my parents and studied what I thought would give me job security. I never thought to study for something that I would enjoy doing.
4. Work less
I worked 2 jobs for the first 4 years of college. I never had time for anything else, but I was always the one with money. I went shopping whenever I wanted and was able to buy whatever I wanted (within reason) while some of my friends didn’t even have money for lunch.
I was more concerned about financial security and forgot to live some of my best years.
5. Travel the world
My mom always told me, “study now, play later” or “work now, play later”, but when is later? She still tells me to work now and save money for vacations when I retire.
As a matter of fact, I just had this conversation with her a few days ago. I asked her how many vacations she plans on taking. You know what her answer was? ONCE EVERY 2 YEARS!
6. Start a blog
Other than telling myself to stock up on Amazon stock, I would start a blog. I am not just saying this because I am blogging now. This blog has given me a purpose, an outlet. Even though it has caused me a lot of frustrations, I can’t imagine not having a blog now.
I had a little blog using Geocities when I was in high school. All my friends had one. It was our own version of social media back then.
I wanted to start a real blog back in 2008 when I came across a wedding blog. I followed it religiously for no reason. I wanted to be one of their bloggers, but I didn’t meet the criteria…oh you know…being engaged to be married within the next 6 months.
I wanted to start one on my own many times, but I just didn’t know what to blog about. I just didn’t think I would be able to write.
If you’ve thought about starting one and haven’t done so, maybe this is your sign.
Related: How to Start a Blog for Non-Techies
7. Invest in money market
Invest in S&P 500. Warren Buffett even won a bet in 2017. He made a bet that over the course of 10 years, the S&P 500 index fund would outperform the basket of funds selected by an asset manager. He was right with the return of 7.1% compounded annually vs 2.2%.
I started this blog after I came across an article on Yahoo! about a young Canadian couple, who were able to retire in their early 30’s after 10 years of investing. They were just average people with slightly above average income. They invested in money market and it paid off.
8. Take more writing classes
I avoided English classes like a plague and took the bare minimum. I was never good at writing and that was one of the reasons why I kept putting off starting a blog. Writing is just like anything else – the more you practice, the better you’d get at it.
I didn’t think I would be able to write multiple long blog posts a week and here I am, doing just that.
9. Take social dance classes
I took one course in college and always wanted to come back for more classes, but I never did. I took more “practical” classes in favor of fun classes. I think it is just as important of a skill as anything else.
10. Take a summer off
Between college and grad school, I spent 8 years total to get my degree. Yet, I did not take a single summer off. I worked 2 jobs in undergrad and I was in school year-round for grad school. I would tell my younger self that I will have the rest of my life to work – slow down and take it easy because this is it.
Some days do feel very long, but in general, life is very short.
As I am writing this post and reflecting back on my life, I can’t help but wonder if my 70-year-old future self would approve the life I’m living now.
What life lessons would you tell your younger self and would your future self look back at your current self with no regrets?