Dear 18 year old self,

Over half a decade has passed since I last looked in the mirror and saw you. Right now, you’re a scared high school graduate with no direction. You think you know what you want out of life, but deep down you have no idea. And that terrifies you. Mistakes will be made, lots of them. You will stumble and fall. Luckily, all those mistakes will make you into the successful woman that you one day will be.

I am currently standing in our first apartment. I’m standing because I’m too broke to afford furniture, but I don’t mind. I have a place that is all mine and it is perfect. As I stand here, I wonder what kind of advice I would give to my 18-year-old self.

First, I would remind you that you don’t have to plan the rest of your life right now. You have years before you need to start panicking. You’re going to change schools (more than once), change majors (half a dozen times), and change careers paths. You want to do so much, but you’re only one person. You can’t be everything, but you already know what you are passionate about more than anything else and that is the path you need to follow.

I would tell you that heartbreak is not the end of the world. You’re going to have your heartbroken, more than once. And I’m not going to lie it will hurt. But in the end, it will make you a stronger person. You’ll learn a lot of valuable lessons from these failed relationships. One of the most important things you will learn is that love has a funny way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. One day, you will be sitting in your office on another average day and a man in a plaid shirt will walk in and introduce himself to you and it will be the end of life as you know it. Don’t go looking for love, let it find you.

On your journey, you’re going to have jobs you love and jobs you hate. You need to respect both equally. It’s a learning experience. You’re going to gain valuable skills from all the jobs you take, yes even that minimum-wage job at the gym around the corner. You will takeaway important things from each one of these jobs and they will help you when you ultimate land your dream job – which you do.

One huge piece of advice I can give is that you need to try new things. I know your anxiety is running wild right now, and unfortunately it will get worse before it gets better. Trying new things is essential to your happiness. Take that job across country. Go on that spontaneous road trip. Wake up one morning and try a new hobby. Do things that scare the hell out of you. Those are the moments that you’ll remember forever.

Most importantly, be a young naïve kid for a while. One day, you’re going to have to grow up and have responsibilities and duties. Right now, it is time for you to have fun and to still be a kid while you can. Make mistakes. You have the rest of your life to sit inside under a blanket reading a book. Go out into the world and try new things while you’re young and you still can. You’ll thank me later.

Stephanie F
FFL Cabinet Member