Be Picky or, things I’d tell my 18-year-old self

Today, I turned 28. I refuse to fall under the stereotype of women who deny their real age (though opinion may change when I do get older – ask me in 10 years).

Apart from the odd existential crisis moments, I actually like getting old. It makes me feel that I’m doing life correctly because I haven’t died an embarrassing death. Usually, on my birthday, I write about the things I’m grateful for. Last year, I wrote about 27 Lessons. This year, I am writing about the things I want to tell my 18-year-old self. Just because.
When I was 18, I was an opinionated college student who thought she had her life figured out. Though I didn’t have a clear idea then what I wanted to do, I was so sure that by the time I’m 25, I’d definitely have my shit together.

Ten years later, I…still don’t have it together. And I’m also still opinionated. But the big difference between then and now are the years that gave me oh, so many insights. Life, not the sheltered kind, happened to me, and I realized that I had it easy then. But I wouldn’t trade my life now for all the comforts I had then. Or maybe shave off a couple of pounds.

So, apart from telling myself when and where my phone got stolen so I could avoid it, here are fifteen things I would like to tell 18-year-old Lyra.

 

Be picky. Being picky has received some flak as a negative thing but it actually depends on what you’re being picky about. If it’s about trivial things, then you’re an insufferable creature. For example, if you decide to go camping and spend the whole time complaining about the lack of facilities then fuck you. When I say be picky, I mean the important things; the people you want to share your life with, the activities you spend your time on, the tools you use for making a living, how you make a living, among other things. Be picky. No sense wasting your time on things and people you don’t think are worth it.

 

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Nobody else does. You will be bombarded by so many things at once that it’s easy to wallow in everything that went wrong or didn’t happen or did happen. It’s normal, but don’t wallow too long. Lighten up and be comforted by the thought that whatever it is you’re going through, it shall pass.

 

There are people who take joy or comfort in raining on other people’s parade. It doesn’t matter what it is about – a promotion, a new resto you want to try, your career choice – they will have something negative to say about it and, in extreme cases, would even try to discourage you. I only have two things to say: first, don’t let them. Second, don’t be that person.

 

Don’t waste time and emotions on people who won’t do the same for you. Over the years, people change and priorities shift. There are relationships that survive the transition, but it requires that everyone involved make all the necessary efforts to ensure that it does. Make that effort for the people you care about and value the ones who stay in your life. Grieve for the ones who don’t, but don’t take too long to let go. Remember, if they wanted to stay in your life, they would have – no twisting of arm, no running after them, no wondering if they’ll be there when you need them.

 

Don’t be afraid, embarrassed, or uncomfortable going out by yourself. If there’s one person you should be comfortable spending time alone with, it’s yourself. Eat at a nice restaurant, walk around a park, visit a museum, take an overnight trip out of town; enjoy these things on your own. Do things at your own pace, in any order you want, at any time you want without worrying about other people’s schedule and expectations.

 

If there’s something that you want to do, do it now. Barring going broke, risking life and limb, losing your job, or destroying relationships (yours and other people’s), stop making excuses and just go do whatever the hell you want. Remember that life is finite, and that its twists and turns on the way to the end are always unexpected. Make the fun and find the happy whenever you can.

 

It’s okay to make mistakes – just once for each kind. Okay, maximum of twice. Make your mistakes count and learn what you can from them. And remember, whatever mistake you made, you only have two choices: forgive yourself or live with it.

 

Be ambitious. Like being picky, being ambitious has a somewhat negative connotation, which I don’t get. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, nothing wrong with wanting something currently out of your reach, nothing wrong with working hard to get what it is that you want.

 

Never, ever believe that anyone, much more the universe, owes you something. This is the reason why the world is fucked up; there are people who feel that they are entitled to greatness merely by existing. They aren’t. You aren’t. You reap what you sow, all else are just bonuses.

 

Nothing is worth doing if you’re going to do it half-assed. If you chose to do something, give it your best shot. Commit. And when you do, stick.

 

It’s not wrong to change your mind. But whenever you do, make sure that it’s for a very good and valid reason and not just out of whim.

 

Life will never be all sunshine and rainbows. It is difficult, oftentimes messy, rarely quiet, and most of the time unexpected. Look at it as an adventure. And remember that for most difficult times, the best thing you can do is grit your teeth and get on with it.

 

Value your name. You may not have had a choice in it but it’s yours. Never do anything to taint it. Be credible. Be a person of integrity.

 

Rude is rude whether or not you’re telling the truth. Age, gender, and position does not excuse anyone from behaving badly. Be classy.

 

Never burn bridges. But if you really have to, as it sometimes happens, burn it fully and completely without thought of coming by that way ever again. Just remember to really think it through. And definitely don’t burn the ones you’re still standing on.

 

Just go. Keep living, keep loving. Just keep on going.

 

Keep going,

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