All of the things I wish I could tell my 18-year-old self.
Dear 18-year-old me,
A lot changes over the next few years of your life. More than you ever thought possible.
It turns out you didn’t choose to study law. All those years working for that perfect score weren’t necessary, because you soon find out that the law is, well… kinda boring. You realise that doing the ‘smart thing’ isn’t necessarily the best thing, and you wind up picking a Media and Communications course instead.
And, to your surprise, you freaking love it.
On your twentieth birthday, you start a blog called ‘The 20s Diary’, and your friend Sean tells you that it’s a shit name but you decide to keep it anyway (good call, because Sean was totally wrong, the name is solid).
It takes you a full year to tell people about your blog. For so many months it is your little secret. You’re terrified what everyone will think or say, and sometimes you’re put in really uncomfortable situations.
Even when you’re 21 some people make you feel weird about blogging. They talk about it like it’s something to be ashamed of. But it’s okay, that’s just life. Sometimes when you’re out with friends, a lovely stranger will come up to you and ask if you wrote that post about avocados and dating… and that’s when a huge, goofy grin spreads across your face and you bubble away with pure happiness.
The blog makes you sparklier than you’ve ever been. Even if it is odd, it’s entirely, unapologetically you. It’s blissfully cathartic, and in your darkest hours it becomes your escape.
Just a heads up – guys either dig you being a blogger, or think you’re the world’s biggest weirdo. But it’s probably best they know you’re crazy from the get-go anyway, right?
When it comes to boys – you make some huge mistakes. Epic, massive, ridiculous mistakes.
I recommend you tell him how you feel before you leave. Just tell him, because it turns out he felt the same way all along, but the timing is never right with you two. It never, ever is. By the time you get back, he will have already moved on (he always moves so fast, that one). But trust me, he feels the same way. So just tell him.
While we’re talking about ‘Do Nots’, I’ve got a huge one for you…
Do not waste the entire summer of 2013-2014 not eating enough food. Stop being so obsessed with being skinny. You’ll only feel exhausted all the time because you’re living off water crackers, green tea and grapes. Stop writing down everything you eat in that stupid journal.
Stop graphing your weight-loss. Just stop, and think about the bigger picture. Realise that a thin body isn’t worth the dizziness and hunger. Listen to your loved ones when they voice concerns about your diet, because they’re right – you’re not healthy, and you know it. So treat your body with more respect.
Try and look for signs at home, because soon enough your world flips.
Everything you take for granted, everything you consider concrete, will disintegrate within the next three years. Your family life suddenly doesn’t make sense anymore. As dumb and silly as it sounds, I wish I could have warned you. I wish I could open your eyes and make you see things how they really were. I wish I could tell you to savour your family life before it disappears overnight.
I look at you now, at 21, and don’t really recognise you. You’ve become a completely different person. Not in a bad way, but the stark difference is undeniable.
You’ve just changed.
You’ve cut your hair shorter and wear brighter colours. You don’t move in the same crowds. Your bank balance is ever-so-slightly healthier. You’re less black-and-white with your politics. You become less judgmental, but far more hyperaware. You don’t play, coach or umpire netball anymore. You traded innocence for perspective. Your sisters have become your best friends. And as you get older, you only get more confused.
But some things are still the same.
You’re still terrified of Dr Suess. You still laugh so hard you get asthma attacks. You’re still a night-owl who loves being social with friends. You’re still hopelessly awkward and painfully stubborn. You still eat oats with honey every morning for breakfast, even when it’s 40 degrees. And it doesn’t matter where they are seated on the ladder, your heart will always bleed black and yellow for the Richmond Tigers.
Sometimes I do wonder: If you met me now, would you like me?
Perhaps that’s a question for another time. It’s 1:44am now, and you’ve stayed up far too late again. I guess old habits die hard, huh?
I’ll just have to check-in three years down the track.