I have one week left of being the age where I learned the most about life and myself.

18 was my most reflective trip around the sun. My eyes had to be open more because I was experiencing everything by myself and that left so much room for thought. I never stopped learning and I never stopped growing, I just let this year be a trial run at adulthood. I saw so many things in a new light and my awareness is better than it ever was. I know I'll never be this young again and I let that spark a lot of my decisions, and I experienced a lot of firsts. Some things I learned may be a bit late, and other things I found may make me wise beyond my years, I'm just proud of myself for being as thoughtful as I was.

1. Not much changes with adulthood.

Life only changed when my outlook changed. No one started seeing me any differently because of the year I was born. I established myself as mature before I was 18, so the age never mattered. Becoming a legal adult is all hype depending on what you're willing to do with it. I never bought lottery tickets or cigarettes, just cold medicine.

2. Defiance is my super power!

I always allowed myself to be fueled by being told I can't do something. Now, I've realized how great of a trait that is. Success stems from defiance. I will push myself as hard as I can go just to prove someone wrong.

3. Friends are everything.

Lovianna Blackwell

The friends that last through even the first little stage of adulthood are so important. Distance, time, stress, and new lifestyles can cause a lot of separation, but it doesn't have to. And the best and most permanent friends know that.

4. Boys aren't anything.

Even at 18, boys are still only that: boys. What I have done and what I haven't done pertaining to boys doesn't affect anyone but me. It just doesn't matter. It's something I'm still learning, because there are expectations and standards, but I have to set them for myself. I can't base them on what anyone else is doing.

5. I'm allowed to treat myself.

Lovianna Blackwell

We grow up hearing "money can't buy happiness," but it can certainly buy things that make you happy. And every once in a while I learned it's best to treat myself to something, like a fancy Ice Cream Sunday, to make myself happy. I was always so scared to spend money, but I learned how to save and budget so I can enjoy more.

6. I have to tell people I miss them.

When I was younger, I hated calling anybody. I reminded myself, "the phone goes both ways." But then I realized that I can't expect anyone to call me because I miss them. I cant believe it took this long to figure that out. Now I value long conversations with the people I miss.

7. I know a lot about myself.

Lovianna Blackwell

I value who I am and my opinions and my voice. I have always spent so much time on my own. I never felt lonely, just independent. There was never anyone I had to answer to. But when I got to the point where I was the most on my own, at 18, I adjusted well. Some others didn't. They never got the chance to be themselves, by themselves. People were envious of how comfortable I was in my own skin. I thought I came off as narcissistic, but I didn't. It changed my whole outlook of thinking independence was a bad thing.

8. I never want to be the same person I was yesterday.

I started noticing all the little changes I could make. I have so much control over my fate if I just make adjustments and never make the same mistake twice, and I make a mistake every day. So, as long as I learn every day, I can be an improved person tomorrow, and every tomorrow after that.

9. Say "yes" to things that scare me.

Lovianna Blackwell

As long as no harm comes from doing something, I can say "yes" to it. I was afraid of needles, but I got a piercing. And it was invigorating. Now I'm not afraid to agree to things that freak me out a little.

10. Also know when to say "no."

This was a big one for me. It doesn't take a lot of convincing to get me to agree to things. There are times I had to learn that I couldn't help everyone all the time, that I had to focus on me first because of my grades and my sleep matter. Saying "yes" is important, but not if it will have a big impact on something else.

11. Never accept defeat!

Lovianna Blackwell

This specifically pertains to college, but I do not let myself give up anymore. I realized how hard I can work and so I work that hard. If something is worth all the effort I have, then I'll give it. With that being said, I also know when to hold back on things I can't handle. But I've realized I only have to work hard because it's for what I want.

12. The only person I can expect things from is myself.

I am the only person I can hold to a higher standard because I know how far I want to go, and I'm the only person willing to work that hard. I expect a lot of myself because I know what I'm capable of.

13. Netflix will always be waiting, so I need to focus now on the things that won't.

When my anxiety would kick in, Netflix in bed was my safe zone. It got to a point where I wouldn't do much else aside from class. Then I convinced myself to do things that weren't permanent like hanging out with friends and going on trips, because Netflix is something that won't ever go away. It was a helpful reminder to live in the moment.

14. Numbers are so unimportant.

At 18, I finally realized how meaningless numbers are in the grand scheme of things. Weight was just a number tied to my body, time was just holding me back, my GPA isn't in competition, and things like followers and likes could not be any less important than they are made out to be. They hold so much significance in society, and I stopped taking that.

15. Good shampoo is worth splurging on.


Thankfully, "Queer Eye" debuted this year! I learned everything about beauty and a lot about life from Jonathan Van Ness. The thing that stuck for me were the dangers of sulfates in shampoos. They are so bad for the hair, and now I spend the extra few dollars on sulfate-free shampoo. I remind all my friends to treat their hair with the care it deserves, and I'm basically a spokesperson for "Queer Eye" now. Not to be dramatic, but it kind of changed my life!

16. The importance of voting!

Adults preached the power of voting the whole time I was growing up. I understood that, but it didn't affect me yet. I never felt like I had any say in anything until the time came where I could register. And registering to vote was the coolest thing ever. There isn't a lot to look forward to about turning 18, but as someone who loves for her opinions to matter, that was a big deal.

17. Life is still just beginning.

Lovianna Balckwell

There are so many things I have yet to figure out or accomplish. Rome wasn't built in a day, so I know my life won't be either. It won't even be nearly completed for a while. I take my time and give myself space to learn as I go.

18. I had a lot to learn.

By no means did I think I had it all figured out, but I let myself think I knew a lot more than I did. I started college a year early, at 17, and I grew up faster than I really planned to. And I did that to myself. I'm thankful I did, though, because it gave me the opportunity to grow more and learn all these amazing things I may not have this year. With just a week left at 18, I feel more accomplished than I ever thought I could.