18 Things I’ve Learned Since I’ve Turned 18

Here are 18 pieces of advice I wish I would have known


Elaine Thimyan

Lessons I’ve learned leading me to my 18th birthday, and some things I’ve learned after I turned 18. 

Elaine Thimyan, Layout Editor

Every birthday, your parents ask you, “Do you feel any different?” and you always answer with a sheepish smile and a no. For me, on my 18th birthday, I did feel different. It was the first birthday of my life where I felt noticeably different from 17. I felt older and wiser. I want to share the lessons I’ve learned leading me to my 18th birthday, and some things I’ve learned after I turned 18. 

18. Water does solve all problems. 

You may not think you’re dehydrated but I’m here to tell you that unless you feel refreshed when you wake up, your skin is clear, and you have energy during the day, you’re probably dehydrated. 

17. You aren’t lazy. Grind culture is just as toxic as any other online culture. 

High school is difficult for everyone, for most especially their junior year. You aren’t lazy if you are behind and have no drive to do anything. You could have anxiety, depression (seasonal or otherwise) or some form of ADHD or ADD. Or you could be experiencing burnout. You are not worth how much productivity you are creating. You are allowed to float right now because none of this matters after high school. 

16. There will always be someone more experienced than you.

No matter what you decide to do in life, there will always be someone older, better, and more naturally gifted than you. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a place or can’t become the best. Don’t strive for perfection, strive for satisfaction in yourself. Perfection does not exist, but as long as you walk away happy and proud that’s all that matters. 

15. Stay humble and respectful.

No one appreciates someone who thinks they know it all or someone who boasts about having it all. Everyone is trying to get through their day and no one likes the kids that scream in the hallway or say weird things to random people. It’s not funny and not helpful. 

14. I promise you, that text is not worth it.

Learning to keep your peace and bite your tongue is a valuable lesson to learn. Don’t mistake this for being walked over; you will know where the line is. If you know something you say is just going to stir the pot more and turn the water to boiling, don’t do it or say it. 

13. It’s okay to try something new.

In high school, you always feel like people are judging you and there’s a spotlight on you. The truth is, most people don’t care. Everyone is in their own head. The other half will be excited for you. It’s okay to be excited about something. Being numb and deadpan all the time is exhausting.  

12. Learn how to save money.

This is something I’m still learning, as I didn’t grow up around budget wise family members, so it’s transferred over into my teenage life. Learning how to save and show self-restraint will help you so much in the long run. There are tons of budget ideas online and ways to track it. Also, some teachers will be willing to help you, especially if you’re a senior. 

11. Get to know yourself.

It sounds cliche, but what I mean is really admit to yourself what you’re good at and what you struggle with. I struggle with deadlines and focusing, but I’m good at holding myself accountable and to a standard. Don’t sign up for president of a club if you KNOW you won’t put in the work; don’t make big plans for projects if you know you don’t have the time. We all have room to improve, it’s not a good use of your time to pretend you don’t.

10. Senioritis is real. 

I thought it was a funny joke that generations have made up. It’s real. ESPECIALLY once you get accepted to college, trade school, or you decided to take a gap year and work. Try to come to school because your attendance still matters and colleges can withdraw your application. Stay smart though senioritis. 

9. Junior year IS the most important year.

Here’s the thing about transcripts. Most colleges want your official transcripts, and the last full year transcript you’re going to have before you have to put in your applications will be your junior year transcripts. You’ll submit your UNofficial senior year transcripts when the time comes but colleges need/require the cemented grades. So take the challenging classes your junior year. Junior year sucks, but you WILL get through it, and it will be okay. 

8. Ambiance videos actually help so much. 

I know that it’s weird for this piece of advice to be so high, but honestly, ambiance videos have helped me with studying, sleeping and overall focusing SO much. Regular music makes me distracted. Game music in particular helps, it’s because game music is tailored to help you focus on the game. My top 3 favorites are any Legend of Zelda Breath of the wild ambiance, this one is my favorite, no thoughts head empty, and Zeniba’s cottage from Spirited Away, (this one doesn’t have music it’s just “asmr” sounds) but there are a ton out there. 

7. School events can be fun.

If dances and football games are really not your thing, no worries! But don’t not go just because you think you’re cooler and above it. It’s actually really fun if you have the right people. Besides, when you look back on it, it won’t be as cringy as you think, and you’ll make some fun memories out of it. 

6. Forgiveness is tricky. 

At some point in life, someone is going to hurt you, really hurt you. Forgiveness is a broad and nuanced idea and means different things to different people. Try to understand what it means for you. Does forgiveness mean closure? Do you need the apology in order to forgive? Do you need space in order to forgive? Realizing forgiveness is an action, and something you work at, sometimes everyday, is hard, but it gives you a better understanding of the people around you and yourself. 

5. Ultimately you get to decide your future, not your parents. 

When senior year comes you are going to have options and opportunities waiting for you. I know finances is a big contributor to where you go, just remember that it’s not all that makes up your choice. If you want to go to college out of state, go to college out of state. Make the choices best for you not based on what anyone else wants. 

4. You outgrow your friends.

Yeah, we all know you lose friends when you enter high school and when you leave, but sometimes you just outgrow friendships. You and this person are heading on two different life paths. Your goals and values will change and not everyone will be along for the ride. It isn’t always a big falling out, one day you just realize you haven’t talked to someone and that they’re in a new social circle. It doesn’t mean either of you failed each other or you did something wrong. It just happens. 

3. Girls, your relationships with men should not hurt you.

You don’t understand the “if he wanted to he would” statement until someone actually does because he wants to. From the bottom of my heart up until the beginning of senior year, I believed that romantic relationships, and even some friendships, with men were supposed to be confusing, hurtful and draining. It’s not. You are worth the value and the time, don’t settle for a bond that’s mentally and emotionally draining. 

2. Your body changes again when you get older.

My body looks completely different than it did a year ago. I assume it’s the same for guys, but I speak for the girls that you need to know your body as a woman will not, and should not, look as it did when you were 16. It’s jarring and I still struggle with it, if you feel insecure now you aren’t alone. Everyone is still beautiful, you’re just growing up. 

1. You don’t have to know right now.

This is the best thing I ever learned in high school. You don’t have to know who you are right now, what you like, what you want to do after high school, what you want out of life. You are not even close to the peak of your life, and the choices you make will wear away within time. You don’t have to have the answers and you don’t owe answers to anyone in your life but you.