Career & Life Skills Services | Career Peer Consultant

A Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self

Today, March 4, is my 24th birthday. As I sit in my favorite coffee shop, sipping my favorite “Almond Joy Latte”, I can't help but reflect on the past 24 years of my life. What (if at all possible), would I have done differently? More specifically, what advice would I give if I was ever to be reacquainted with my 18-year-old self? With that, this letter was created.

 

What Advice Would You Give an
18-Year-Old Self?

 

Today, March 4, is my 24th birthday. As I sit in my favorite coffee shop, sipping my favorite “Almond Joy Latte”, I can't help but reflect on the past 24 years of my life. What (if at all possible), would I have done differently? More specifically, what advice would I give if I was ever to be reacquainted with my 18-year-old self? With that, this letter was born.

As you read this post, think about the advice you would give to a younger self and share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Dear 18-year-old James,

Congratulations on your recent graduation. After months of mentally preparing for this moment, you have finally graduated high school. Now, I know at the moment this is the highlight of your life, but trust me, this is just the beginning. In a few short months, you will be embarking on a totally new journey – college. You will leave behind a steady part-time job, your hometown friends, and family; but in return, you will develop new lifelong friendships, gain exposure to different cultures, and work towards finding your true passion in life -- inspiring others.

Now, before I get ahead of myself and give away too much about your future, here are five important tips that I want you to keep in mind as you embark on this new journey.

Avoid Procrastination: Unlike high school, waiting until the last minute to complete your assignments and projects is not the best idea for college. Instead, work towards proactively setting weekly goals for your coursework. This way, you will avoid the dreaded “all-nighters”, and you’ll have enough time to proactively ask a professor for feedback. Trust me, learning this skill now while in college will help you better manage your life and career holistically after college.

Seek Positivity: You will learn quickly that there are two types of people in the world - positive people and negative people. The people you choose to surround yourself with today, can influence where you end up tomorrow. Positive people, overall, are happier and tend to thrive in life and business success. Negative people however, often find themselves stuck in negative situations and look for excuses for their failures -- avoid the pessimists. Instead, surround yourself with positive and successful people, as they will help you move forward in life and remain optimistic when times get challenging -- and trust me, times will get challenging, but remember, stay positive.

“In life, setbacks are inevitable - it's how we choose to cope and learn from them, that will determine our ultimate success.”

Learn from Failure: Throughout your four years of college, you’ll witness your fair share of failures. Whether it’s an academic or personal failure, at some point in time, failure is bound to happen - embrace it as a learning opportunity. Take risks and learn from mistakes. Celebrate personal wins and think about how you could have done better when failures occur. In the end, understand that you cannot be the best at everything, and by learning from failed attempts, you will not only be better at handling personal losses, but you will also be that much more prepared for future obstacles.

Embrace Change: In the fast pace world we live in, change is simply unavoidable. With emerging technologies and improved processes, the way we do things is always subject to change. My advice is to embrace it. It may seem frustrating at times to not have complete control of a changing situation; but instead of whining and potentially being left behind in the dark, take a second to assess the situation and gain momentum to run towards it. Your success in business is dependent on you being able to adapt to change. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Set Yourself Apart: It’s okay to value the same things as your peers in college, but it’s important that you look for opportunities to set yourself apart. In the end, employers are looking for differentiated candidates that are able to establish a brand for themselves. Although you may get involved with many extracurricular activities on campus, you will still find time to invest in your personal brand. Try creating a professional blog showing off your creativity and ideas -- you can then leverage this blog to showcase your subject matter expertise. At the same time, while establishing your online brand, you’ll most likely acquire some new skills that you may be able to leverage during an internship or career after college. Either way, taking steps to set yourself apart now, will pay huge dividends when you seek employment opportunities later in life.

Hope you cherish these thoughts as you continue to grow in your educational career. I know you'll make everyone proud.

Sincerely,

24-year-old James