What I wish I could tell 18-year-old me

Moving from my hometown of Manhattan to the City of Lights immediately after high school was quite the thrust into that “real world” I heard so much about growing up. Homesickness, French men, and long nights at discotheques were all key players in my coming of age story.

Think before you speak

And before you do anything, really. Yes, you want to live your life and “do you,” but the transition into adulthood demands a level of ownership from your words to your actions that was not necessary in your adolescence. Growing up means claiming accountability in your relationships from friends to your family. We all make mistakes, and that’s more than okay. Claiming ownership for your decisions and gaining self awareness in the process has allowed me to deepen friendships and relationships more than I could ever imagine.

Dating around is part of the process

I loved hard and I loved often. Opening up my heart and yes, enduring that inevitable break, taught me more about love than I ever could have learned from Adele or Patti Stanger. Without experiencing countless jerks—every country has them—or days of waiting for that text that was not coming, I never would have recognized when the real thing was at my fingertips. Contrast is the most important part of any decision making process, and finding a soul-mate is no different. Without the frogs, how can you spot the Ryan Gosling?

Be kind to your parents

At eighteen, my parents were on the verge of divorce and the economic crisis was tearing across the globe. I hung up on my parents more times than I could count, swearing that I knew more about life than they did. Hindsight is always 20/20, and this was no exception. During those years I was in Paris, my parents’ marriage was crumbling on the other side of the pond, and I wish that I showed them just a smidge more respect, and a lot more kindness.

You look great. Really!

I wish I could go back in time stop worrying about how that H&M top draped on my stomach, or how my arm looked in that dress. Looking back on my first Facebook photos ever, I can remember the exact insecure thoughts about my body that were behind each outfit. Had I been able to see what others saw and my current self now embraces (hips, anyone?), those years may have been a bit easier. We are always so worried about what people think of us, when really, those exact people are only concerned about what you’re thinking about them. So, let’s just all chill out and go for that extra chocolate croissant!

Be patient

If you know me, you know that I am always in a rush. My husband’s constantly telling me to “slow down,” when I knock glasses over in the kitchen or drop my phone on the street. When I was in middle school, I couldn’t wait to get to high school. Senior year brought on ants in my pants to move to Paris. In college, I fantasized about a career and moving back to Manhattan. It’s a great skill to prepare yourself for the next big step in life, but not at the expense of missing out on the stage you’re in. I wish that I would have enjoyed the cafe for an extra hour on that rainy afternoon, or taken an extra class that semester. Slow down if you can.

Go do everything while you can

Before 25, you have the super strength to go out all night in heels, enjoy that tequila, eat an entire pizza at four in the morning, all to do it all again the next day—without an entire day of Netflix to recover. Plain and simple, I am thrilled that I did all that dancing and eating and going out. Those years of partying allow me to be more than content with my early bedtime ushered in by Olivia Benson’s voice and a buffet of pizza and wine with my pug and husband.

It only gets better

Get pumped! Life is only beginning. Be your authentic self, learn from your mistakes, and have a blast. The amount of possibility that lay before you at eighteen truly is mind boggling. As a young film student in Paris worrying about my non-existent muffin top and crying over that boy who is a blip on my life timeline now seem so petty. The level of independence, happiness and fur coats that I have in my life now seemed impossible at the time. It’s that huge gap between what was and what is, that gets me excited for the next ten years.

Lucy Tobias is a rooftop and taco enthusiast, Olivia Benson fangirl and native New Yorker. She loves any chardonnay and is always down for a good TLC dance party. She lives in Brooklyn with her British husband and their elderly pug, Dame Judi Dench. Follow her on Instagram @LucyTNYC for pup and brunch adventures, and check out her blog Mad Girls Club TV (wwww.madgirlsclub.tv) for fun videos and tips for lady bosses everywhere. 

[Image via Universal Pictures]