My little sister turns 18 today. An arbitrary number, but so significant. She’s making the transition into adulthood. She’ll be able to vote, to drive, to make her own choices. But the number also brings with it much responsibility, not only to others but also to herself.
As a tribute to fresh-faced 18-year-olds everywhere, and as a birthday nod to Yasmin, these are the things I wish I knew when I was 18.
– It is okay to say no sometimes. Don’t do things you don’t feel right doing just because saying yes is easier. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and grief if you learn to, politely but assertively, say no.
–Take care of your family. They will be there for you when things fall apart, when nobody else is. You should do the same for them.
–Take care of your friends. Don’t expect them to be there for you when you need them to unless you do.
-A smile, and manners, go a long way. Whether you need to grab a waiter’s attention, or if a salesgirl is being mean to you; whether a teacher scolds you for something you didn’t do, or you are having a fight with a friend, violence and bad words will not help your case. Smile instead, and be polite. If nothing else, it will guilt the other party into doing the same. If they don’t, it’s okay to walk away.
–Take photos of everything. Everything! That time you went out for ice cream with your best friend. That time your parents took you out for lunch. That time you got a new haircut. That cute cat in the park. Everything. You will regret not having done so.
–Pay attention in school. And make sure you try to enjoy your lessons. Be excited about learning new things. If there is something you do not understand, look it up. Participate in discussions and ask questions. That’s what your teachers are there for.
-READ! Even if it’s just chick-lit. It doesn’t matter what you read, just do it. A page or two every night before bed will suffice. It will widen your vocabulary and you’ll be able to converse on plenty of subjects comfortably. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself wanting to read more complex things, different genres, new subjects.
-Know your limit. Collapsed in front of the loo, hoping you manage to let out all the alcohol you just drank is not a good look for anybody.
–The ‘perfect body’ does not exist. Your own body is good enough without you having to starve yourself or spend hours at the gym.
-Eat healthily and move around. I promise I’m not contradicting myself. Respecting your body means taking care of it. Make sure fruits and vegetables are included in your diet. Take a dance class. Or kickboxing. Even fencing. Whatever helps you blow off some steam.
–Moisturise. I don’t believe in hour-long daily beauty routines either, but the least you can do is moisturise every day. Your skin will love you for it.
What tips would you give an 18-year-old?