So I’ve been a parent for all of 3 and a half years now. A short time really and I’m certain I have a lot to learn in the coming years. And you kind of learn as you go along I’ve found. My boy is growing up so fast and the days seem to fly by. Sometimes that’s a good thing when it’s 8am and it’s been tantrum city since 6am.
As the time flies by, it got me thinking about b growing up and becoming a boy, a teenager, leaving home, having his own family. He told us he wants to be a daddy and then look after his daddy. Erm not sure that works but hey. What would you or did you say to your child at 18?
What advice would you give yourself if you could zip back to 18? Life is full of regrets and what-ifs and I’ve thought many times what I would and wouldn’t do differently if I had my chance to be young again. Here are a few things that I’d say to my younger self and that one day, I’ll say to my boy. Not sure he will listen though!
Build up your skills and take every opportunity to learn. Sure I did well at school and I went to university and got a degree. But when I look back I feel I wasted a lot of time. I really wish I’d made more of an effort to learn outside of my university course. I had so much time on my hands outside of lectures – I could have gotten a job, built up work experience or done some voluntary work. But I didn’t. I feel like I wasted time when I look back.
Save, save, save. I know when you’re 18, saving money sounds boring and dull but I really wish I’d done a better job of just popping a little bit away. Even £20 a month or so once I started a weekend job.
Read more. I read a lot but I wish I’d read more when I was younger. I spent so much time reading trashy fiction as a teenager and I wish I’d invested that time reading more non-fiction and learning about the world around me. I studied German at university and I read about German politics, history, and literature. I wish I’d broadened my horizons a bit.
Don’t stress exams. They help but they are not the be all and end all. I remember stressing so much over my SATS exams when I was 14 or so. What a waste of energy! But at that age you don’t realise that once you get older, you’ll have bigger things to worry about.
You might never find your “niche” and that’s ok. I’m in my mid-thirties now and still wonder what I will do when I grow up. This has always been something I’ve worried about -my niche. Everyone else seemed to have this sorted – doctor, teacher, manager. I had no idea when I left university. Since having my little boy, I worry less about this. Happiness and feeling content are my main aspirations.
Believe in yourself. And this is one that still haunts me in my thirties. When I left school, we all had little notebooks which we would fill in for our friends – good luck wishes and what not. A teacher wrote “you are better than you believe you are”. I try and carry those words with me today : )
So there you go. The things I would say to my eighteen year old self if I had the chance to go back. What would you want to say?
This post was originally featured on “Back to the Feature“.