Me on the far right at age 18.

 1) You will really miss college. You will love studying journalism and miss taking classes so much. So soak it up, relish what you are learning, go after it with all you have. Suck it up and do a freaking internship even though you don’t want to! Go spend a semester abroad — you won’t miss any of those things you think you will. I promise. You’ll have no idea what happened in the fall of junior year but you will if you spend it in Ireland or Australia.

2) The best friends you ever have won’t be the ones you try for. Sometimes they are the ones from high school and there are always more to come so stop trying so hard to be liked. People like you — it’s okay to just be yourself! Making friends will come easily to you later in life — you’ll forget what it was like when it was hard.

Junior year of high school: Still some of my dearest friends and always will be.

3) You will not be fat when you are older. I know you are afraid you will be — but you won’t so chill out. Start reading up on some women who have overcome the ED and live healthfully. Embrace fitness and health with joy and moderation. Step away from all-you-can-eat cafeteria and go run a few miles. Breathe and reboot. You will not always feel this way.

4) You will be glad that you did not get married & have babies when you were 20. You will think your angsty, youthful self was very silly for ever thinking that was your only major goal. You will find a career you enjoy and you will be glad that life forced you into all the uncomfortable things you didn’t want to do. So start embracing it now and don’t look back. You are stronger and more capable than you realize.

5) Start saving your money. Now. Talk to your Dad and start a 401k — like today — and put in a little bit each month. Start a seperate savings account — like today — and put in a little bit more each month. Don’t touch them for the next 10 years. You will be soooooooo glad you did and you will not have a meltdown when you are 28 and realize your personal “fortune” is in the negatives. But don’t worry, you will still be okay even if then.

Shelby, Chelsea, Lindsey, Megan, Me at an NSYNC concert in 2000.

6) Stop wasting your heart on stupid boys (this is a given, right?) That guy from Freshman English Lit — you will not care one whit about him in  six months — so stop ruining your night analyzing how he bumped into you leaving class but did not say hi when you saw him at the gym. Same goes for that guy at work — you are shaving minutes off your life with the roller coasters you are putting your heart through every shift. He doesn’t matter — he never will! There are people that will matter but you are so far from that right now so enjoy life.

7) 25 is not old. It’s still really young and everyone who is older than 25 thinks so. With five years between 25-30, you will do so much with your life, you will feel like an entirely different and wise person by the end of it. Enjoy being in your early 20s without thinking about getting older. There is plenty of time for that once you actually hit 30 (and even then…)

8) Travel MORE. You’ve done more traveling than most but, do even more if you can. Traveling internationally has and will shape you into the best person you can be by opening your eyes to the entire world, and looking at the faces of people in every culture. Go teach English in Uganda, jump on that plane to Switzerland, it really is worth it.

Sweaty in India, circa 2004.

9) Get involved. Write for the school newspaper, join a running club, meet people for coffee that you think are interesting. Volunteer. Go to musicals and attend the international student’s dinner.You will learn later how much these things enrich your life, give you perspective and take the focus on the self-pity and depression that sometimes eat away at you. There is more — don’t just ignore what’s out there because you are scared or sad.

10) You have a lot to learn about politics. Things are not as cut and dry — as black and white — as they seem. People that disagree with you are genuine too. Most of the time, you are just human beings wanting the best for other human beings but just disagree on the best way to reach that goal. That’s okay. Devote your life to something bigger than politics. You can participate but make sure to elevate love and grace above all.

Kilroys Sports Bar, Senior year of college in 2004. Me: third from right.

I feel much wiser — and much more calm — now than I did in my early 20s. There are so many things I wish I would have understood and known but you just can’t when you’re there. I can already tell there’s a boatload of crap I will have tell myself in 10 years when I turn 40. Scary to even think about really but I can see why they say life gets better as you age. You live it differently because you know it’s going to be okay, you know you have choices, you know you can get through just about anything.

I’ve still got a lot to learn, no doubt, but perhaps some young-ish readers can gain something from my “advice” to myself. Or…those more my age can laugh along with me. I’m a late bloomer in some respects — and I’m dealing with my own, age-appropriate worries right now but I’ll see how it all worked out in a few years — and I’ll know I should probably just chill because it’s all going to be okay.

Summer after high school. Bring it on college 🙂 (Me: far left)
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