Reminder: Casey is my cousin, so obviously her twin sisters are my cousins too. Surely I didn't need to tell you all that. But in case you didn't know, now you do :) I remember when they were really little and now they're 18 and have graduated from high school. Is it even necessary to mention how old this makes me feel? No? Well, you get to hear it anyway.
I've been out of high school for 11 years now. Enough said. Ya'll want to know what I looked like at 18 years old? Check out this really old photo I found! I'm on the left and the lovely lady next to me is my cousin. I was actually 17 here and turned 18 about two weeks after I graduated. Do you ever go back to photos like these and think to yourself "What in the world was I thinking"? I do it all the time. I mean seriously, what was up with my hair and makeup? Geez. And I promise you I had not been drinking or smoking anything. I was not that girl. My eyes just looked like this from all the crying I was doing. Yep, I was an emotional one during graduation. So ready to move on yet so sad to say goodbye to so many friends. Oh, the memories.
After some deliberation I came up with 5 things I would tell my younger self if I could:
1. Take chances. Don't sit around waiting for something because you're afraid. Afraid of failing, afraid of what people will think, or afraid of the uncertainty behind it. If you do nothing, nothing will happen. Always remember that no matter how things turn out, it always ends up the way it should. You can guarantee you'll learn something at a minimum. But you also just might find that you made the best choice by taking that chance instead of passing it up. (Sometimes I wish I would have stuck with my initial International Business degree and studied abroad in Portugal or Brazil. I even took a Portuguese class. Then I switched majors. Go figure!)
2. Do what you love. Career advice is a tough one. But one piece of advice I would have given myself is to follow my heart and figure out what I really love doing and go for it. Don't just pick a major that sounds nice on paper or is popular. Follow your interests and values, figure out what you're passionate about.You don't want to get stuck with mounds of student loans that you have to repay while working hard for a job that doesn't make you happy.
3. Make smart financial decisions. Start saving early. Really early. Don't get sucked into what seems like the fabulous world of credit. Just because you can pay the minimum doesn't mean you can pay the balance. Trust me, I learned the hard way and am still dealing with my mistakes. And invest in your future early. I finally started a 401k and wish I would have done it sooner and started investing (even if it's a very small amount at first).
4. Be the best person you can be. Respect yourself, elders, minors, and everyone in between. It's not so much what you say but how you make people feel. Making contributions to other people is one of the greatest rewards in life. Be the best version of you.
5. Surround yourself with good people. Stay in touch with your closest high school friends, make tons of friends in college, and invest in keeping good people in your life. People that will always be there to support you. You'll need that support when you land a new job, lose a job, get engaged, etc., etc. So, there you have it. If only I could transport myself back in time. If only. Maybe some other recent graduates can take some of this advice and run with it! Now, if you could all hop on over to my blog that would make my day extra special :)