A Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self

Last Saturday my little (yet big) brother turned 18.

I’m slightly still in shock because in my mind he will always be the blond little boy letting me dress him up and doing his cheesy little smile whenever the camera came around. And now he’s 18 and going to college and as a big sister I couldn’t be more proud. He’s already accomplished so much and I know he’ll accomplish even more as he goes into business and plays golf at a college level. If the many messages I’ve sent aren’t enough, I can’t think of anyone who has entered adulthood with so much grace.

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For his birthday friends and family wrote letters to congratulate him on legality and to offer advice and such. As I was writing my letter at my desk on a rainy Eugene afternoon, feeling quite nostalgic for the little boy I miss and excitement for the man he’s becoming, I thought about what I would have wanted an older sibling to write to me on my 18th birthday. What advice would I have wanted? What would make me feel like an adult? So after writing his letter and giving him advice he’s already following (surround yourself with loving people) I came up with everything I wish people had told me about adulthood and thought I would share with you all.

I’m freshly 21 and in the past three years I have learned so much about adulthood and meandering the ways of other adults. While I’m still fumbling around like a headless chicken (I did check yesterday morning if I put underwear on, that’s how bad it can be) I know that sometimes even a little advice can give those freshly legalized a little more confidence as they enter the most foreign territory known to Earth: Adulthood.

Dear 18-Year-Old Morgan,

  • Please surround yourself with people who make you feel happy. If every person in your life leaves you feeling content by the end of your conversation then you’re doing pretty well. If you spend time with positive people you will live a positive life. Don’t settle for people who belittle you or focus more on themselves than you, that will lead to negativity that’s going to plague you for years. Find the people who love you and make you feel good (also, treat them well too) and watch your life flourish.
  • Put down your phone. I know we all love updating Twitter and I know you particularly love checking celebrity Snapchat’s because it’s like you’re friends, but put your phone down for at least one hour a day. Spend that time colouring on the couch. Or going on a walk. Or, just an idea, spend time with people and make memories that your phone can’t do. Not only will you save your eyesight, but your life will have richer meaning than what your Facebook status says.
  • Constantly save money, but also indulge. If you always save money then you have money for cool stuff. Buy cheaper groceries, don’t go out every night, use coupons, etc. When you save up money on stuff that doesn’t really matter, you end having lots of savings and can do the most amazing things. You only buy off-brand groceries? Lucky for you, you can now afford to go on that really awesome trip to Cabo for spring break! Or maybe you’re more of an expensive restaurant person for dates. When you save money on the little things, there are really big rewards.
  • Don’t get caught up in the party scene. At 18 everyone parties. Even the kids who seem like hermits party. Find what you’re comfortable with and stay there. It’s completely fine to attend only a party a week and spend the rest in your dorm room eating nachos with your roommate. And as you get older, you will find different kind of partiers and you will have to reevaluate your social life, because there will always be people who invite you out every night, but you don’t always have to say yes.
  • Apply for jobs slightly out of your qualifications. Literally every job I’ve applied to since I was 18 I was under-qualified for. I had barely any IT experience (I could use email and Chrome) and was hired as a student technology consultant because of my knack for working with customers. I had zero receptionist experience, but I was hired at my current job because I had worked IT and I had a pleasant front desk persona. Just because you don’t have six years of business experience doesn’t mean you can’t get the job. You just need to prove to them your current qualifications make you better than what they’re asking for.
  • Please never settle for someone who doesn’t make you feel special. This sounds like number one, but this applies to romantic relationships. Date people who make you feel like you are like that Rihanna song “Only Girl in the World”. When you meet the person who makes you feel special (and I mean like a warm special not like a firework special, there’s a big difference) keep them around. If they don’t make you feel like that, it’s likely going to end with a lot of heartbreak.
  • Invest in clothing that works for casual and business. Buy a print top that works with jeans and a blazer and pants. Buy sandals that look great with your romper, but also with an A-line skirt and blouse. And always buy jewelry that looks expensive and well-cared for. When you buy items that work for both you save lots of money, and your wardrobe expands. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money, Forever21 and H&M both have clothing for cheap that looks great at Coachella and the office. Just do a little mixing and matching and your wardrobe will look small, but you’ll have lots of outfits!

Well, 18-year-old self, you did pretty good without this advice, but now that you’ve figured this out may you prosper even more in life!

Stay classy, Internet,

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