Turning 18 was anti-climactic.
But in reflection, over the past few years there are lessons I've learned that have immensely helped through the journey.
By no means, do these lessons come from a source of mastery – I'm grappling with most of these myself. But if someone reads it who is undergoing the perplexities of being young (or in living life in general...) gains some insight, that's all I could ever ask for.
My 18 Lessons
1. You have time, you just suck at prioritising
Don't listen to people that say "I don't have time" and don't use that yourself as an excuse. We have an abundance of time, but we fail to spend it wisely on things that matter.
2. Motivation comes from action
Instead of waiting around for the perfect moment to start working, have a bias for action. There is no perfect time to work and you find getting started inspires you more than "thinking about it" ever will.
3. Unbridled passion is mostly useless
Passion looks sexy, exciting and makes for a good story but without systems and consistent practice, passion is just show and tell.
4. Don't rely on age and don't be held back by it
Being young has leverage in making your work seem much more impressive than it is. But the double-edged sword is people don't take you seriously, only give praise or limit your access. Or worse yet, you limit yourself.
5. If you're given an A or B decision, there's always decision C
Decisions aren't binary. People are flexible. If you end up drawing the short straw on something, you didn't think creatively enough for a better decision.
6. You're only competing with yourself
It's unfair to compare yourself to someone else. They've lived a different life to you. And you end up running the wrong race. The only way to get ahead is to chase your ideal self. What type of person do you want to be in 5 years time? In 10 years time?
7. Keep building, even if it's ugly
Original thinkers and success stories never happened overnight. Great ideas come from abundance. Mozart composed 600 pieces before his death and Beethoven produced 650 in his lifetime, yet we only remember a handful. So even if you think whatever you're working on is garbage, keep working on it. You'll inevitably get better and strike gold.
8. Consume less. Create more.
The pleasant life is not one's sum total of pleasant moments. Instead, create, give and provide more. It'll be more satisfying in the long-run.
9. Don't intervene in someone else's story
You can be the guiding light or compass for someone, but ultimately you can't change them. Sit in the trenches with them but don't get tangled up in their quest.
10. Consistency is better than intensity
You don't become healthier by eating one bowl of greens. Nor do you become more fit from doing a sprint once. Do the reps and see the result.
11. Be reliable
Show up on time. Do what you say. Be there for someone. It builds trust faster than by trying to look trustworthy.
12. People mostly don't know what they're doing
People mostly stumble through life and the "experts" and "leaders" don't always know what they're doing. Heed their advice but don't blindly follow them. Don't expect other people to have all the answers.
13. Life sits outside your comfort zone
Being comfortable means you aren't learning anything new. Doing things that scare you lead to the greatest amount of growth.
14. Workaholism sucks
If the only thing you care about is work, you're probably using it as an excuse to avoid responsibilities in other aspects of your life (from personal experience).
15. You are the sum of your environment
As the quote goes, "you are the sum of your 5 closest friends", but really it should be that you are the sum of your environment. The people you surround yourself with, your family, the place you work, the books you read, the posters on your wall, all have micro-influences on you as a person.
16. Being lost is part of the process
You'll never have all the answers, and that's fine. Just keep walking and you'll find your way through the maze.
17. Freedom is being disliked
If someone dislikes you, it's proof that you're exercising your own freedom and living in accordance with your own principles.
18. You're steering the ship, no one else is.
People are going to tell you how to live your life and dictate where to go and what to do – they want the best for you. It'll be frustrating, it'll be confusing and it'll suck. But at the end of the day, stick with your own guns because you control the sails and experience your own horizon.
There are many more lessons I wish I could've fit in here, but these are the ones that have resonated with me the most so far. I know have a lot more to learn, but I'm excited knowing that I'm only just getting started.