While I am only 19 and have spent a relatively short amount of time on this planet, sometimes I feel more like a wise old woman than I do a second year college student. Even though I can hardly do my own laundry and don’t have a lease on a dented mini-van, I do feel that I have a lot that I could teach to a daughter of mine. 18 is one of the most pivotal years in one’s life. In my past 19 years I have learned at least 18 life-long lessons that I want to share with my future 18-year-old daughter:
1. You should never be the person who texts during a movie. You will deserve the popcorn you find nestled in your ponytail.
2. You will know that you love someone when you can sincerely congratulate them without jealousy mimicking acid reflux up the back of your throat.
3. You should write when you’re feeling sad. Or hurt. Or frustrated. Or inspired. The pen and the paper have power over your recovery like no therapist ever could. When you have thoughts in your head that tug at your eyelids and burn in your chest the best thing you can do is spew them like spilled ink onto a thin lined sheet, and only then can you understand just what is eating away at you so ferociously. Keep a pen and a notebook in your bedside table. You never know what will need to be exposed to the spiral bound universe at 5 am on a Monday morning.
4. Your sports, your readings, your favorite TV show and your dinner can wait. People won’t.
5. You will be the luckiest person in the world when you find that one friend who answers the questions you haven’t asked them yet, and is the flesh and blood of your personal diary. Never let them slip. Strive to be that person for someone else.
6. You should never share your saliva with someone who just wants to swap spit.
7. Numbers are just symbols and they do not define you. Whether you are a 00 or a 14 you should know that the only people who matter are the ones who failed math class, and couldn’t care less where you fall on a number line. Bear all 32 of your teeth and use your 10 toes to kick aside anything and anyone that tries to tell you that you are anything less than 100 percent meritorious.
8. Play with people’s hair. It’s always a good hair day when your strands are slicked with oils from the fingertips of the people you cannot live without.
9. Flossing sucks but cavities are worse.
10. You should let yourself love lyrics. You are going to like songs that your brother doesn’t, and there are going to be songs your best friend falls in love with that you wish never made it out of the artist’s garage. When you find someone who loves a song as much as you do, listen to it over and over with them. Music creates bonds that chemistry has no idea even exist. A song will transport you to a different city, country, time zone, frame of mind, or chapter in your story. You will have songs that will remind you of summer and songs that remind you that your heart is no longer unbroken. You will cry, and that is good. That means that artist did their job.
11. If you’re afraid to say it, it probably needs to be said. Now.
12. Popping the pimple is rarely the right choice.
13. Whatever is the future equivalent of the iPhone; you should always purchase the equivalent of its Apple Care. There are far too many tripping hazards and beckoning bathtubs on this planet. On a completely unrelated note, you should always keep the pantry stocked with a solid amount of rice.
14. If you ever find yourself waiting up for a boy at night with your makeup on, you should exfoliate and go to sleep.
15. Everyone deserves a chance. The awkward boy with the untied shoes or the quiet girl rocking colorful knee socks might just be the next Hannah Montana, if you know what I’m saying.
16. There will be sentences that will understand you the way no friend ever will. There are quotes that will make you feel like no boy ever could. There are words that will bring you comfort and dazzle you and choke you up and give you goosebumps and cease your pain like no person on this planet has the potential to ever do, no matter how much they want to. Write these words down, and keep them near. Even if you hate English class now, someday you’ll understand the influence syntax has on the soul.
17. Sometimes you won’t get over 50% on a test even though it was in your best subject. Sometimes you won’t get the job even though you thought you nailed the interview. Let it be clear that yes, there are times when you will fail. But you must remember that as long as you get up the next morning, put on your favorite outfit and refuse to look back, you will never be a failure.
18. If a goodbye makes you cry, you should do everything in your power to make sure that it doesn’t have to be the last word you say.
Whether you’re 18 or 81, these rules are universal. I hope everyone can take something away from this list, regardless of your age. I hope you keep them in mind as you attempt to maneuver through life, and I hope you can reflect on your own experiences to not only better yourself, but to better those whom you care the most about.