My dear Kim,
Congrats! Today officially enters you into adulthood. Voting is totally the coolest part about turning 18 but soon you will be moving out on your own, going to college and before you know it you’ll be getting a real job, getting married and buying a house– really awesome adult stuff!
Being 10 years before your time, I wanted to write you a few pieces of advice to help the next 10 (or more?) years go easier for you. Some of these are things I wish someone would have told 18 year old me. Some silly, some serious- hopefully all beneficial :) And… If not, well, my bad. Let’s begin!
- Be silly. Do something crazy and fun (although still safe!) while you can. Jump in a pool at midnight with your clothes on. TP your best friend’s car. Eat 2 Chipotle burritos. Procrastinate on a project then stay up until 5am finishing it with friends and m&ms. Unfortunately you will get to an age where these things seem so wildly irresponsible they don’t even seem fun anymore. Do them while they still seem awesome. They make great stories for later.
- Get to know people that are different than you. This stretches our comfort zone, helps grow our empathy muscle and will probably teach you a little something about yourself too.
- Read for fun.
- Don’t ever out someone’s information on social media. Don’t mention your friend is moving or got engaged or is having a baby in passing. This information may not be public yet and it’s not your job to make it so. This will lead to some awkward interactions.
- Don’t Pinterest plan your wedding. Not even on a secret board. Not until there’s a ring on it.
- Baking makes friends. TRUST ME on this one. If you feel awkward going to a gathering of new people, bring cookies. Nothing excites people more. And nothing makes you feel more comfortable than people now excited you’re there. (Note- cookies also help bad moods, asking forgiveness from your roommate, getting a boy to notice you and keeping people from seeing how dirty your place is.)
- Ask forgiveness often and forgive people abundantly. If your friend hurts your feelings or you think you offended her, say something. Be a woman who shows and offers grace quickly and regularly.
- Be flexible. When you get to college, know you’ll probably change your major. In life, friends will change plans, a class will be different than you thought it would be and you’ll spend hours preparing for something that gets cancelled last minute. It’s ok to be disappointed but try not to be crushed. Go with the flow- oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!.
- Ask questions about people’s lives. Be genuinely interested in the answer. This is radically different than the majority of the people they will come in contact with.
- Don’t be afraid to be different. You’re not like everyone else. That’s what makes you YOU! And we love you. Continue to learn more of who you are and be confident in being the woman God created you to be.
- If you want to go deep with someone, be vulnerable first. Once you take that plunge, they’re more willing to follow suit. This was my secret weapon as a Young Life leader.
- Don’t text things to people that you wouldn’t say in real life.
- When you get a real life job, be extra nice to people you work with. Ask them out to lunch. You will spend much of your life there and making friends goes a long way to making it as pleasant as possible.
- Know your time is valuable. When you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else. Make sure your prioritize your relationship with Jesus, family and friends. It’s okay to say no.
- Things you put on social media will last FOREVER. Please remember this. I’m old enough that all the dumb things I said/ did/ got pictures taken of me doing are not on the internet. (Whew! That saves me 3 lifetimes of embarrassment.) Just remember- it may seem funny now but do you really want your boss seeing that in 10 years?
- Say what you mean. Don’t make people read between the lines, especially in a dating relationship.
- Create healthy rhythms of work and rest. Rest is important. I know it’s easy to feel invincible when you’re young. But the sooner you learn to rest, the better. It’s harder to create these rhythms of rest once you’ve set bad patterns later in life. Create space to decompress, to process through what God is teaching you and to relax and refresh.
- Grow in self awareness. Know what your strengths are, your weaknesses, your struggles and your successes. You can’t be good at everything and it is exhausting to try to be. Try to grow in a couple of these areas and give up the rest. It’s okay. You may struggle with some of the same root sins for years. The sooner you can pick up on this, the quicker you can fight them effectively.
- Love and marriage is incredible. One of God’s best gifts. But it’s not everything. And it should not be pursued with dumb guys who tell you they like you but won’t say you’re dating or who can’t have a normal conversation about an issue you’re going through. I know being single is hard- I’ve been there. I remember being 17 and thinking I’d be single for my whole life. You probably won’t. Don’t freak out. God knows each and every step of your life.
- The gospel is the one thing that will get you through anything and everything. Continue to build your life on it. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. In the turning points of your life over the next few years, remember this. He knows where you’ve come from and knows where you’re going. Even though you are sinful and broken, Jesus died on the cross, rescuing you. Never forget this. Remind yourself of His love and power and goodness and sacrifice daily.
We love you Aunt Kim! Happy 18th birthday!!