What I Would Tell My Younger Self, If I Had The Chance

If I Had The Chance, There Are 3 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self About

This isn't meant to make you regret your past or resent decisions you've made. Everything happens for a reason and all you can really do is continue to learn and seek the understanding you can only from exploring the world around you.

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Although I'm still very young and have a lot to learn, I think I've come a long way from where I used to be. Or at least that's what I like to tell myself. It's always interesting to look back and see how different things were and think about how certain situations may have played out differently if we knew then what we knew now. Here are the three things I wish I understood more when I was younger.

1. Stop trying to grow up so fast

Many people tend to forget that life isn't a race and the more you treat it as such, the more you'll gloss over all important experiences you may never get back. I distinctly remember just looking around at the people passing by wishing I could be older and freer and staying up all night with my friends wondering what our lives would be like. I began to rationalize every unfortunate situation by telling myself that things sucked then, but in the future, it would be vastly different. What started as a seemingly harmless coping mechanism grew into an unhealthy fixation on the future.

I focused so much on how great my life would be in the future that I skipped over all the important steps I needed to take before then. I wasn't building up to my future, I was standing in the same spot as life moved on and that successful future I had been so engrossed in moved further and further away. There's a time for everything. What I had forgotten was that with all the fun things that you get for growing up, come a lot of not-so-fun things. Yes, I can go and buy myself bubble tea whenever I want, but my bank account and credit card bills may say otherwise.

2. It's OK not to know exactly where you want to end up

Growing up, I was most passionate about theatre and anything involving art or performing, really. With this in mind, the only career paths I really saw were being a Broadway star or some famous singer. This was all fun and games as a kid until the harsh reality set in that this may not be the most financially realistic choice for me. I'm a strong believer in doing what you love, but I also know that you don't have to be doing what you're most passionate about as your main career to be happy, especially if being financially stable is in your list of to-dos. This was devastating for me as I suddenly felt lost in what I wanted to do when I grew up. Honestly, I thought about all of this way too young but it is what it is.

Not knowing what you want to do is perfectly fine. Tons of people in college, and even many adults don't know what they want to do and there is nothing wrong with that. The key is continually taking steps to figure out what you want to do. As long as you are helping yourself grow as a person and expand your skill set, have faith that you will figure it out eventually. I was set on going into PR since my sophomore year of high school until about a week or two ago when I realized that I felt more at home in experimental marketing and event production. A single job interview uprooted five years of being set on what I was going to do. You're going to change, your interests are going to develop and you will, quite possibly, end up doing something entirely different than what you may have originally imagined. Don't freak out if you don't think you "have it together" because, in reality, who actually does?

3. Learn everything you possibly can and stop telling yourself you'll "get to it eventually"

Looking back, I wasted an insane amount of time when I was younger; it's a shame I didn't realize its value until now. Growing up, you think you have all of the time in the world and you do (but not really). I'm in disbelief of how much I could've learned and accomplished if I had just used my time wisely. Life is short and you can never predict what will happen in the future so if you want to do something or learn something, there is absolutely no better time than right now. How many times have you pushed back doing something only to have it never happen?

Take New Year's Resolutions, for example. I think they're ridiculous. They are just an excuse for people to postpone having to do what they want, or are supposed to be doing, only for them to declare it to the world to seem like they're productive on a "special day." But what happens? They work towards accomplishing their goal for a while with the motivation of "new year, new me" fresh in their minds but pretty soon they revert right back to their old ways. If you want to get something done, don't wait. At the very least, acknowledge that saying you'll do it in the future really means you'll probably never get to it.

* * *

If I'm being really honest, if I could go back and change certain parts of my past, I wouldn't. No matter how awful something I went through may have been, I firmly believe that every decision I've made thus far has helped shape who I am. Even the smallest change of decision could alter things I couldn't even imagine. Are there other great ways I could've turned out and learned certain lessons? Of course. But, because hopping into a DeLorean and Back-to-the-Future-ing it isn't an option, we need not concern ourselves with such thoughts. This article isn't meant to make you regret your past or to resent decisions you've made. Everything happens for a reason and all you can really do is continue to learn and seek the understanding you can only from exploring the world around you.

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The Truth About Young Marriage

Different doesn't mean wrong.
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When I was a kid, I had an exact picture in my mind of what my life was going to look like. I was definitely not the kind of girl who would get married young, before the age of 25, at least.

And let me tell you, I was just as judgmental as that sentence sounds.

I could not wrap my head around people making life-long commitments before they even had an established life. It’s not my fault that I thought this way, because the majority opinion about young marriage in today’s society is not a supportive one. Over the years, it has become the norm to put off marriage until you have an education and an established career. Basically, this means you put off marriage until you learn how to be an adult, instead of using marriage as a foundation to launch into adulthood.

When young couples get married, people will assume that you are having a baby, and they will say that you’re throwing your life away — it’s inevitable.

It’s safe to say that my perspective changed once I signed my marriage certificate at the age of 18. Although marriage is not always easy and getting married at such a young age definitely sets you up for some extra challenges, there is something to be said about entering into marriage and adulthood at the same time.

SEE ALSO: Finding A Husband In College

Getting married young does not mean giving up your dreams. It means having someone dream your dreams with you. When you get lost along the way, and your dreams and goals seem out of reach, it’s having someone there to point you in the right direction and show you the way back. Despite what people are going to tell you, it definitely doesn’t mean that you are going to miss out on all the experiences life has to offer. It simply means that you get to share all of these great adventures with the person you love most in the world.

And trust me, there is nothing better than that. It doesn’t mean that you are already grown up, it means that you have someone to grow with.

You have someone to stick with you through anything from college classes and changing bodies to negative bank account balances.

You have someone to sit on your used furniture with and talk about what you want to do and who you want to be someday.

Then, when someday comes, you get to look back on all of that and realize what a blessing it is to watch someone grow. Even after just one year of marriage, I look back and I am incredibly proud of my husband. I’m proud of the person he has become, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished together. I can’t wait to see what the rest of our lives have in store for us.

“You can drive at 16, go to war at 18, drink at 21, and retire at 65. So who can say what age you have to be to find your one true love?" — One Tree Hill
Cover Image Credit: Sara Donnelli Photography

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Odyssey, From A Creator's Point Of View

Writing for Odyssey is transitioning from the outside looking in, to the inside looking a million ways at once.

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It's 11:59 p.m. and I have two articles due tomorrow afternoon: two articles that are basically figments of my imagination at this point. When I was asked to write for Odyssey, I was ecstatic. I was a devout reader in high school and found every post so #relatable. During my short time as a "creator" for Odyssey, I've experienced what it's like to be on the other side of the articles.

Every post is not #relatable. This is a platform for anyone and everyone. I chose the articles I wanted to click on and read them, deemed them relatable, and clicked share. I, along with Odyssey's 700,000 something followers, did not go through and read every single article.

Being a creator has shown me that everyone has a voice, and by God, they're going to use it (rightfully so).

It can be disheartening at times to get what we think is a low number of page views when there are articles we don't necessarily agree with getting hundreds of Facebook shares. I don't crank out journalistic gold by any means, but being a writer isn't a walk in the park. It's stressful at times and even disappointing. Odyssey creators aren't paid, and even though it's liberating to be able to write about whatever our hearts desire, I'll be the first to admit that my life is just not that interesting.

When I first started writing for Odyssey, I vowed to never post anything basic like some things I have read in the past. If I'm going to dedicate the time it takes to write for a national platform, I'm going to publish things worth reading.

That vow is basically out the window now.

Simply stated, it's easy to write about things that are easy to write about. It's kind of like calling a Hail Mary play when it's the night before an article is due and there's been a topic in the back of your mind for days that you don't think is that great, but you think people might read. You just throw it out there and hope for the best. Being a creator gives you inside access to knowing what people are reading, what's popular, and what's working for other creators. Odyssey's demographic is not as diverse as it could or should be, so it's not hard to pick out something that the high school girl you once were will find relatable. Recently went through a breakup? Write about it. Watched a new show on Netflix? Write about it. When there's nothing holding you back, you have the freedom to literally put whatever you want online.

It's not easy coming out of your freshman year of college, one of the hardest years for any person, and being expected to whip up articles that everyone will love. Not everyone is going to love what I write. Heck, not everyone is going to like what I write. The First Amendment is a blessing and a curse. Not everyone is going to agree with you, and that's okay.

The beauty of Odyssey is that it highlights the fact that everyone DOES have a voice, and whether that voice coincides with your religious, political, or personal views isn't up to you.

You have the power to pick and choose what you want to read, relate to, and share. Remember that you have no way of knowing what every single person on the planet is going through and what they choose to write about reflects their own personal opinions, experiences, accomplishments, and hardships. Odyssey creators can spend weeks crafting articles they hope will break the Internet, but in return only get a few views. They can also pull all-nighters grasping at straws just trying to reach the minimum word requirement and end up writing the best thing since sliced bread.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that even though there are posts out there that are so easy for us to relate to, that's not always the goal for writers. We write what we feel, and if there's nothing to write about, we write what we think other people feel. The kicker is that we don't truly know what other people are feeling. You might hurt someone's feelings with your words. You might make someone cry with your story because they felt like they were alone and finally, finally, someone else feels the same way. You might trigger someone and get hateful comments. You might even change someone's life with your words.

The moral of the story is that words are pretty powerful, whether we choose to believe it or not.

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