the last time I will refer to recent celebrations
Those of you that aren’t new around here (hello and welcome any new subscribers) will know that my eldest boy turned 18 a few weeks back and I have been known to refer to this once or twice already. It is quite a milestone as a parent, though, so please bear with. I did promise last week that this would be my last reference to said occasion.
But one thing I found myself doing is remembering my own 18th. Can you remember that season of your life? (For some of you it may have only been a few years ago but I am over double that age now).
I do remember it clearly though because for me it was the beginning of so much. I was young, inexperienced but I thought I was so grown up, so adult. I was heading off to uni that very week to begin a new chapter, and little did I know that the week later I would have begun a relationship with the boy of my dreams (yes, this is my husband, don’t worry).
But there was so much doubt floating around, so much second guessing, wanting to fit in, wanting to be and do so much. Feeling small but also feeling like I was too much.
It’s a classic question, but – what would you say to your eighteen year old self? If you could sit with her or him, and chat through what you know now, that you didn’t know then, what wisdom would you share?
Here’s a few of my thoughts. I’ve tried to do this without filter or without too much overthinking.
I’d say, I promise that you’ll feel more comfortable with yourself. You’ll learn you’re not validated by others’ opinions or your own success. You’ll need to keep relearning this, but that’s OK.
You’ll grow and change. Some people will come and go, others will be in it for the long haul. Life will hurt you, surprise you, bruise you, knock the wind out of your lungs and absolutely take your breath away. You’ll grow a capacity to love like you never have before. You’ll say some awful things. You’ll get better at apologising.
I’d tell her to prioritise herself a little better, that being kind to yourself is as important as being kind to other people. Stuff won’t make you happy. Memories, generosity, gratitude, purpose, love, fulfilment – these are the things that bring joy (better word than happiness).
I’d say, life probably won’t look like you are imagining, Hannah. It’s not better, it’s not worse, it’s your life. Go live it. I’d say, be fully present in your life. The only moments you have are the ones you have right now.
I would actually say a great deal of that to forty-one year-old Hannah, too.
Maybe take a moment and think about what you’d say to your eighteen year old self today, and what you might need to say to present-day you, too.