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All You Have to Look Forward To is Everything [Dear DBN]


All I remember about being 18 is that everything felt like the end of the world.  This week, as a 27-year-old woman, I’m here to tell you that all you have to look forward to is everything.

“What advice would you give an 18 yr old introverted female, who is also a college freshman and an aspiring writer, on making the most of college and living life to the fullest? You are an inspiration, both by way of your breathtaking prose as well as your take on life in general, and I’d love to hear you weigh in on this.”

If you are 18 and you are already asking that kind of question that thoughtfully, you are well on your way to living a life worth telling. If I could tell my 18-year-old self anything, it would be this: write it down. Write down everything because you will forget it. Keep it for yourself. Keep it on paper in leather-bound notebooks and stock pile them. Turns of phrases that haunt you, poems that rhyme too much and not at all, unexpected twists that catch you and your breath. And for the love of science, go to class.

Go to class and watch for when the professor’s speech pattern speeds up, when they’re passionate about something they’ve been covering for years. Get B’s and C’s because even though you go to class, you should go to the party and you should see the show and you should exhaust yourself. At least once, work as a waitress so you can learn how to tip and how to survive if you need to. Look for the compliments in criticism. When someone says your writing is too flowery, let it bloom. When someone says your skirt is too short, revel in your confidence in your body. When someone says there’s no future in an English major, know that you are made of courage and passion. An hour of Candy Crush will never be as fulfilling as writing a letter to your mom, telling her what she means to you. A pile of new clothes will never be as incredible as showing up on your best friend’s doorstep across the country unexpectedly. A new computer will never mean as much as the weeks you could backpack through South America. Respect your time, your wishes, your body, your feelings, your passions, your opinions, and your right to do with all of them what you please.

But above all else, remember the power of kindness. Be kind to the barista that didn’t make your latte correctly because he’s making $7.50 an hour. Be kind to the bus driver who didn’t greet you because this is her third straight shift. Be kind to the boss who didn’t sleep because the baby needs to go to the doctor, again. Be kind to your parents, to your enemies, to your self. It will make you happier and in the long run, it will bring so much more into your life, and how easy is it to write a story when the story comes to you?  Be a beacon of light and guide your dreams to the shore.

“I’ve never been on a date. I don’t even think a guy has liked me. ever. and I’m 19, almost 20. I feel so pathetic. I’ve never even had my first kiss. Everyone around me has had theirs, and most of them have boyfriends. I feel like it’s just never going to happen, but I want it to happen so bad. I want to get married one day and have a family. How am I going to do that if a guy never likes me back?”

Rent the movie Never Been Kissed even if you’ve already seen it. Never Been Kissed is a real film about a plausible world in which Drew Barrymore, noted hot person, hadn’t been kissed as an adult grown up with a job at an indeterminate age. While you shouldn’t go poaching for a man in a high school, you should learn to frame your life with romance rather than pathos. What wonders you have to look forward to! What drama and passion and life! What a story you will be able to tell. But that story can’t begin if you’re moping and mourning a plot you haven’t even begun to develop.

It’s true what they say, when you love yourself and you are living your best life, people gravitate to you. You are window-shopping other people’s lives and paying no attention to your own. You want someone to like you? Darling, you think you’re pathetic! That’s not a state in which you want someone to like you.  It’s time to believe you’re worthy of love, not just vex over why it hasn’t found you. And sorry honeybuns, but that’s going to be a battle.  Get your armor because you have shit to do. Throw yourself into your hobbies, your passions, your curiosities. Work hard, play hard and invest yourself in your life. Build the kind of home within yourself that someone else would love to live in. Because that’s when you find love, when you’ve made yourself easy to love.

    I've written for Teen Vogue, Thought Catalog, Leveled Magazine, College Candy, How About We, and have been featured on several HuffPost Live segments. Creator and leader of Bold Moves October featured on xoJane and Neil Gaiman's blog. Both Neil and Jane appreciate boldness. I specialize in pep talks, very long bike rides, and matching my lipstick to my heels.