“Where should I go?” – Alice. “That depends on where you want to end up.” – The Cheshire Cat.” 
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

I’m sure anyone my age or close to (32) still remembers clearly (or perhaps not so clearly) the rocky transition into becoming an adult. Suddenly we are faced with decisions that will actually have in some cases a huge impact on our lives. Choices we make will stipulate the direction in which our future could be created.

Looking back I wish there were things I’d known and understood. I’m sure we all have those lessons we wish we’d learned at a younger age. Here are 4 things I’d tell my 18-year-old self, given the chance.

1. You don’t find opportunities, you create them.

In my late teens and early twenties, I spent MUCH time sitting around waiting for opportunities to fall in my lap. Be it a job, a relationship, an experience… they all, as far as I was concerned, would come to me when the time was right. I am a good person, I deserved good things right?… Not necessarily. I discovered that to truly get what you want in life you have to go out and work for it. Create meaning in your life, find a passion and do something good with it. When you wait for things you have no control. When you put your heart and soul into something and make it happen you gain control, along with a sense of true accomplishment. Stop sitting around waiting for life to find you. Take a risk and make some moves… some will go nowhere and some will stick with a true sense of belonging.

2. Buy experiences, not things.

This is something I am only now learning. I have spent a lot of time and money buying things, clothes, cars and an assortment of many other often unnecessary items which satisfied a short-term craving for something new and exciting in my life. I can honestly say that I associated happiness with these purchases. I’m quite sure everyone has experienced the buzz of waiting for the courier to arrive with your latest purchase… in my case, it has at times been two or three couriers in one week.

I have not done a lot of traveling in my life but that is something I have made a decision to change. Experiences are what change us, force us to grow and show us alternative ways of looking at the world around us. I’m looking forward to opening doors to new people and perspectives. I believe I would be a far different person today had I done this at a younger age.

3. Sometimes life hurts.

It’s true, it’s undeniable and it’s going to hurt more than once. You will make mistakes, you will feel heartbroken and you will be let down. Even though we will all, always struggle with these feelings and emotions there are healthy ways to bounce back. For starters, when things go wrong, accept it, take your time to feel the negative effects but keep in mind that they are temporary. Remind yourself of all the good in you and the good in life. Surround yourself with loved ones and friends. Forgive if you can and move forward when you feel ready. Hate lingers a long time while gratitude for a life lesson will dissipate much quicker.

4. Take care of your body and mind.

You only get one of each and your 50-year-old self will thank your 18-year-old self for going easy. Think twice before the prolonged binge drinking sessions, try some new and nutritious foods, drink water instead of soda, read a book and spend some more time relaxing. Take the time to educate yourself on how to train your body and mind to perform at a level that sustains a healthy and happy lifestyle. We really are the outcome of what we put in and the more stresses on our body the quicker we age. Do yourself a favor and enjoy the things you love but be mindful of the long-term effects on your health and well-being.

Tim Kavermann

Tim is the Founder and Creative Director at Fuel Media Limited, and the passionate lifestyle writer here at To Whom It May Concern. He resides on the beautiful North Shore in Auckland, New Zealand.