Things I wish I’d known at 18…

Reading Birthdays, goodbyes, and hope made me think about my oldest child’s 18th birthday celebrations a few weeks ago: it’s hard to believe I now have a child who is legally an adult. Quite apart from the fact that I know damn well she isn’t, and that I wasn’t either at 18, it made me feel shockingly old and a little bit wise (which makes the old bit bearable)…

On her birthday, we had a big meal out with about 20 odd friends and family (both meanings of the word ‘odd’!) and I passed around lots of photos of her though the years and a journal I had bought, which invited guests to leave her a comment: I suggested that if they were over 25, they left something along the lines of ‘something I wish I’d known at 18 but didn’t’. Shockingly, or perhaps very British-ly (good grief, we might have to talk about something deeper than the weather!) only one person wrote something warm and wise, so, I’m going to run with this here, and hope that you’ll join in. I’m going to leave my top 3 ‘things I wish I’d known’: please, don’t be shy (or British) let me know yours too…if they’re really good, I’ll have them laminated and send you a copy by carrier pigeon 😉 I’m expecting something spectacular from Rule of Stupid involving badgers, spiderman and a length of twine.


Putting a safety pin through your nose, crimping your hair and wearing an old man’s herringbone overcoat does not make you cool. You look like you fell into your grand-dad’s wardrobe after sticking your finger in a plug socket. You will not want to look like this forever, no matter what you think now- your mum was right when she laughed at you and told you that one day you’d wear pencil skirts to the office. I know this was not the reaction you wanted but don’t take it to heart. Oh, and take the safety pin out asap. One day it will really annoy you that you have a hole in the side of your nose which will never go away. In all seriousness, stop worrying about being cool i.e. how you appear to other people, and start thinking about who you want to be for yourself. Grow your insides and the rest will follow.


Just because you can sing, doesn’t mean one day someone will give you a recording contract. This goes for any talent you may have. The only difference between a dream and a reality is hard work. You have to actively seek the things you want and take risks to get them. Lighting a joint and pretending you are Prince’s backing singer will not get you a gig in a working man’s club let alone the Albert Hall.


Love is a way of behaving not a word. If someone says they love you and then sleeps with your best friend, they don’t. If someones says they love you, you don’t have to say it back, sleep with them, forgive them for sleeping with your best friend or lend them a tenner. You will know when you truly love someone because you will stop worrying about yourself and your feelings and start putting them first: it won’t matter who loves who more and you won’t want to sleep with their best friend to get them back for sleeping with yours. Love is not the same as hurt: in fact, it’s the opposite. Ah, fuck it: just accept the fact that love probably won’t come in to it for the next decade and bad sex will have to do.

Well, that’s me done. Feel free to add to the list and if I ever have a time machine, that laminated list will come in really handy…



November 21, 2012 · 12:16 am

13 responses to “Things I wish I’d known at 18…

  1. Sex will never bring you what you want – but you will have a fantastic time failing.

    People will tell you money isn’t important – tell them homelessness isn’t your ambition either.

    They DO UNDERSTAND. In fact, you are a remarkably transparent idiot.

    That tiny voice in your head that pisses you off so much and keeps telling you shit you wish it wouldn’t – like stop drinking now or, this isn’t your crowd or, you should do more of what you love not what your friends want you to do? It will be twenty years before you accept that it’s been right all along and you should have listened.

    You are 18. You are a complete arsehole. Everyone at 18 is a complete arsehole. But you can cure this instantly just by accepting it and not believing you are an immortal who knows everything and everything that happens to you has, like, so totally never happened to anyone else, ever.

    You will only know that you finally have everything you ever dreamed of just after you kill it. That is the human condition.


    p.s. Just got the letter back from Dr Thorn – turns out the voice isn’t right – you’ve got chronic psychosis – oh, how funny…

  2. p.s. what you said about love – so true 🙂

  3. I would like to add don’t rush life… at 18 everything feels so urgent, it has to be done now… looking back I can honestly say “no it doesn’t” take your time and enjoy what you have… if things don’t turn out the way you (or your friends) think they should its ok, enjoy it anyways… stop trying to force it to go the way you think you want it… cuz in hindsight what you think want often isn’t…

    Fierce Panda is completely right (yes I said it – don’t let it go to your head!! :P) those voices that are telling you the crowd your with, or the guy your with, or the road your on, isn’t the one etc, well the voice is right… listen to it… ALWAYS, ALWAYS follow your gut it knows way more than you do…

    and Love and Need are NOT the same thing… being needed is a nice feeling, but it gets old fast… and needing some-one tends to get desperate (you don’t want to be in a needy clingy relationship – why didn’t anyone tell me this???)… you want to learn to stand on your own, to love and like yourself first, so that when you fall in love you know… and then it will be magical 🙂

  4. gonz

    I need to share this with my daughter. She turned 18 in July. Circumstances being what they are for her, my ex, et al, she could really use some of this wisdom.

    I’ll make damn sure to steer her towards Fierce Panda’s addendum, too.

    Well done, y’all.

  5. All that crap about two people being one, and their better half, and completing each other? Bullcrap. Do not fully give yourself to another (I’m talking marriage here, not virginity) until you know you are whole on your own. How can you give to someone else if you are only half a person? And that stuff myspokenheart said about needing someone? It’s true. Make sure that whoever you decide to give your heart to loves you and not who you are, because you are going to grow and change. They have to be excited to see who you will become. If they only love who you are, they will not love you when you grow. If you are afraid to tell them your new ideas, that’s a big clue that they will not like it if you grow.

    Well, I hope it makes sense. And as newcomer, I hope it holds water.

    • Welcome newcomer: I’m still a newcomer too!
      Wish I’d known all this stuff earlier…but I guess that’s the journey of life: you find out what you need to know just after you needed to know it.
      Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to checking out your blog 🙂

  6. jaschmehl

    I only have one thing to add to all the wisdom on this page: I wish I had known that it was ok to change my mind, admit I was wrong, and that I would not look the fool for doing so.

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