Part of me thinks the past eight years have gone really quickly but at the same time being 18 years old feels like an eternity ago. This time eight years ago I was getting ready to sit my A Level exams and enter adulthood upon leaving school. School and education itself feels like a long time ago, in fact I had a little freak out when I realised that I graduated five years ago this summer. Where the bloody hell does time go?! When you’re in school you think you’ll go to university, leave, land your dream job, find the person you’re destined to marry and settle down, but sadly doesn’t quite work out like that.
Here are some things I wish I could tell 18-year-old me:
Take advantage of work experience and internships
Although I kept my job while at university it was a lot more flexible than others and I could go from working 40 hours in a week to 10 depending on my needs. I wish I could tell myself to take advantage of this flexibility and do more work experience and internships and reduce working to just weekends. When you leave education and get a full-time job it’s nigh on impossible to get these experiences as it requires time off work. I remember taking a week off work to do a weeks’ work experience at NME and it was depressing using up a week when I was still working.
Join societies when at university
I lived at home so didn’t have the standard university lifestyle that many people had but I wish I could tell myself to take advantage of what was there. Join some societies and make some friends, perhaps ones you’d keep for a long time after leaving. I see friends of mine who lived away and had such active social lives and still see people they went to uni with regularly and I wish for that.
Try to work out what you actually want to do with your life
When you leave university you tend to just fall into any old job if you don’t have a plan. For me I ended up staying in my retail management role for over three years after graduating. While it was great pay and allowed me to buy my own property I always felt a bit behind when it came to a career as I was starting at the bottom a few years later than everyone else. I know not everyone decides what they want to do at university but I didn’t even start to think about it.
Write as much as you can
Music journalism was always a pipeline dream for me but it wasn’t until I was about 22 that I realised that it was a possibility. You can write for online publications and while you may not get paid you get to go to shows, interview bands and get these amazing experiences. As a music editor now within reason I can go to any show or festival I want to and I have some great contacts within the industry but I wish I’d started this earlier. I have people on my team who are 18 years old and still doing their A-Levels or in their first year or uni and I think how much I wish I had done that and began things earlier.
Don’t let a boy come in between your family
When I was 20 I had a boyfriend who had quite an intense argument with my brother which led to us not speaking for about 2 and a half years. These years were rough on my family because he wouldn’t be in the same room as me so we didn’t have family meals out or even Christmas’ (he would come on Christmas eve when I was working in retail and spend Christmas day at his girlfriends’ when I was with my family). Despite breaking up with the boyfriend in question six months after the argument it took years for our relationship to sprout again. I wish I could tell myself to ditch the idiot who ended up hurting me anyway as family is way more important.
It’s better to have a few great friends than loads of okay ones
Friends can sometimes seem like a numbers game you want to have loads of people to go out with but how many of them are super close friends? I certainly think when I was younger I tried to have lots of groups of friends, people I would go out and get drunk with but very few who I connected enough to be able to call upon anytime. I went through a lot of years around university feeling like if I had a problem, or wanted to talk about boys, or moan about something that I had no one close enough to do so with. I wish I could tell myself that it isn’t a numbers game.