Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Talking to My 18 Year Old Self

Welcome to the June 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Talking to Yourself
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written letters to themselves. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Oh Hannah,

So much to say and so much that I wish I could tell you but you need to experience life for yourself.

You are 18 years old and you are just beginning  your life as an independent woman. You have a lot of self-doubts. You have no sexual experience and you don't know what you want to do with your life. That is A OK!

Keep your independence a bit longer. Don't kiss the first guy who presents yourself. It won't be what you thought it will be. It will be incredibly wet and a bit disgusting. As in wipe off your face with a towel. You waited 18 years, waiting a few more won't be terrible.

When you do start dating, don't let his goals define your goals. It is ok to be smart so be smart! You love to learn so learn! Have fun having discussion about literature, religion, and science. Enjoy those conversations, enjoy the challenge they present to you, and enjoy how they compel you to learn more. Don't shy away from it. Don't change who you are because you think you need to be someone else to find love. The person who loves you will love you and won't want you to change. He will love you and your intelligence and want you to be an even more of you.

Travel! Travel! Travel! Yes, there is a cost, but what you will gain will far exceed the cost of not working at a fast food restaurant for the summer. Find an a summer internship and go for it. Learn everything you can and meet new people. These people will one day help you find yourself and your career path. Travel anywhere and anywhere for any reason. Go on Alternative Spring Break Trips, send time traveling abroad by yourself and with groups. Explore and learn about yourself and the world in which you live. Stay with friends, on couches, in tents - just go and be.

Learn about money and finances. Credit cards and debt are NOT your friends. They will pretend to be but they aren't. Figure out how much college will cost and pick a career where you will make more money your first year out than what  you owe for schooling. Trust me, you don't have to owe 250,000 and make less than 40,000 a year. The stress isn't worth it. Plus, if you are debt free, you have freedom to do what makes you happy rather than feeling pressured to work multiple jobs to support your student loan  habit. Save early and put your money aside now and don't touch it until you retire.

Make lifelong friends. Friends that you can rely on and that will always be there for you even if it is a phone call away. You will want these friends as you navigate marriage and motherhood. Not having them is very very lonely. Make friends and be a friend - don't forget that friendship is a two way street. Be the person who always answers the phone in the middle of the night to just listen or to provide advice. There will be plenty of times you will want to a have a friend like this.

Be real. It is ok that you don't know what you want out of life. Heck, you still don't at nearly 40! Life will be exciting without knowing the next chapter. Roll with it.

Love You.
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • Dear Me. — Meegs at A New Day writes to her decade-younger self offering a good reminder of how far she's come, and she addresses some fears she wishes future her could assuage.
  • Reflecting on Motherhood with Parental Intelligence: A Letter to Myself — Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence writes about raising her two loving, empathic sons with Parental Intelligence and finding they have become industrious, accomplished young men with warm social relationships.
  • A Letter to MyselfThe Barefoot Mama writes to herself in the moments around the birth of her daughter.
  • A Letter to Myself — Holly at Leaves of Lavender offers a missive to herself in the past... three years in the past, to be precise, when her little one was only four months old.
  • Dear me: Nothing will go the way you've planned — Lauren at Hobo Mama gets real with her just-starting-parenting self and tells it to her straight.
  • A Letter to the Mama Whom I Will Become — Erin from And Now, for Something Completely Different writes a letter to the Mama whom she will one day be, filled with musings on the past, present, and future.
  • Dear Me of 7 Years Ago — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes to her pre-baby self telling her about the whirlwind she's about to enter called parenting.
  • Talking to My 18 Year Old SelfHannahandHorn talks to herself as she is just entering college.
  • Dear highly sensitive soulMarija Smits tells a younger version of herself that motherhood will bring unexpected benefits - one of them being the realization that she is a highly sensitive person.
  • Talking to myself: Dear Pre StoneageparentStoneageparent enlightens her pre-pregnant self about the amazing transformations life has in store for her after having two children
  • Dear Me: I love you. — Dionna at Code Name: Mama wrote herself a few little reminders to help her be at peace with who she is in the moment. That may give her the greatest chance of being at peace in the future, too.
  • My best advice to the new mama I was 8 years ago — Tat at Mum in Search shares the one thing she wishes she'd figured out earlier in a letter to her 8-years-ago self (that's when her first baby was 6 moths old).
  • A Letter to Myself — Bibi at The Conscious Doer sends a letter back in time eight years to her darkest moment post partum.
  • To me, with love — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama makes peace with her past and projects what a future her will need to hear.
  • To Myself on the Last Day — Rachael at The Variegated Life tells her panicked last-day-before-motherhood self not to worry.


  1. Hi Hannah, thanks for posting and sharing your thoughts at age 18. You know, I think I'd give similar advice to myself at that age, especially around travel, college fees and relationships. There is so much an 18 year old thinks they know but doesn't, it's only now in my mid-thirties I'm starting to realise how little we do actually know!

  2. There are SO many things I'd like to tell my 18yo self. I wonder if she'd listen ;)

    1. Nope - I know that I wouldn't have. Though I wish I would have.

  3. There are so many great points in this post, chief amongst them is: "Be real. It is okay that you don't know what you want out of life." How very true! And it's so sad that we expect 18 year olds to have everything mapped out already... It's too much to put on the shoulders of one so young (and I know that now that I'm nearly 40!).

    Thanks for sharing :-)

    1. I think now you are expected to have life mapped out by the time you enter middle school! Too much pressure

  4. Wow! This post was kind of perfect for me. I'm starting college this fall!
    Everything in this post means a lot to me, but I particularly enjoy this:
    "Be real. It is ok that you don't know what you want out of life. Heck, you still don't at nearly 40! Life will be exciting without knowing the next chapter. Roll with it."
    YES!! I want everyone I know to read this. There's so much pressure to know exactly what you want right when you get out of high school, and in some ways I know what I want, but I think that it's just not possible to have your entire life mapped out at age 18. I really savor this reminder to be real, and to keep on keeping on.
    And this:
    " Figure out how much college will cost and pick a career where you will make more money your first year out than what you owe for schooling."
    That's what my Mum is always telling me! I know it's so important. Student debt is so awful, but it's an unfortunate reality for everyone my age. Luckily, I have quite a bit of scholarship money, but it's frustrating that it's impossible to come out of school without debt, unless you receive a full ride somewhere. I hope that in the future, the USA has better programs to support students in evading debt, because it can be debilitating to have to deal with it.
    I also really appreciate everything that you said about traveling. I love travel, I think that it's so important (I spend a semester studying abroad in Japan last year!), but sometimes when you're facing so much hypothetical debt, it can be hard to justify the expense. Your words have mollified a lot of my doubt about this -- I think that it's worth spending the money now, to be able to experience so much.
    Thanks for the amazing post! It meant a lot to me.

    1. Thank you. My two biggest regrets were not travelling while I was in school and not traveling for a longer period of time. I agree - graduating without debt is nearly impossible - even at public institutions and the repayment help options that are out there aren't too wonderful.

  5. I would tell 18 year old me so many of these same things. But in the end, this life, with all its flaws, is what brought me where I am today... with an amazing husband, and incredible daughter. So its all worth it in the end.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. My husband and I say that meeting each other was the best part of our grad experience and our past have definitely shaped our future BUT our future could have been better with better planning.

  6. Man I wish we could ever listen to advice when we need it! Maybe you can print this out & give it to your son when he turns 18.

    1. And I am sure he will listen about as well as I would have listen. Though, I do really wish that my parents would have been more forthcoming with advice. Maybe envelopes that said, "First Heart Break," "First Sexual Experience," "First interview" that had tips and a $5 for a coffee or an ice cream...I would have read it then.

  7. Great advice for everyone! I kind of wish I had traveled more, but I just never had the money; now, at 30 years old, I have yet to step foot outside of the U.S.! Well, maybe someday... I wish I had thought more about money when I was younger, and I wish I had put forth a little more effort with some relationships with friends, but I've also met some pretty amazing people on my life's journey whom I am thankful to know.