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5 Things I Wish I Could Tell My 18-Year-Old Self

And, just like that – another year has come and gone! As I got to thinking about what I wanted to post today for my birthday, I actually ended up doing some self-reflection. It’s crazy to me that 10 years ago today, I turned 18 and was on the brink of adulthood. It was a time of excitement and uncertainty. If only I had a crystal ball so I could look ahead and see how everything turned out, right?! That’s why I decided to write a letter with 5 things I wish I could tell my 18-year-old self.

5 Things I Wish I Could Tell My 18-Year-Old-Self, Kim Kedinger Photography 2017, Thelma Sadoff for the Arts Fond du Lac, Wis.

Dear 18-year-old Karly …

Quit being so hard on yourself.

You don’t know this yet, but your high school days will hardly matter once you’re off at college. Yes, good grades matter (you already have been accepted early to Drake University!) and it’s good to be involved, but those aren’t the end-all-be-all ways of life. You’re a hard-working, dedicated student, but cut yourself some slack every now and then. Crying over a project or having anxiety about writing the best possible thesis paper (although, your thesis on polygamy does turn out pretty stellar!) is SO not worth it. The 28-year-old version of myself is still working through this!

Enjoy the moment that you’re in.

This goes hand-in-hand with what we just discussed, but you need to live in the now. You’ve been so focused on getting through high school and off to college since sophomore year. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with looking ahead, but that also means that you’re probably missing out on what’s happening around you right now. Ask mom and dad if you can stay out a little later after Friday night pep band, and go hang out with your friends at Caribou Coffee or someone’s house. Social memories are just as (if not more) important than academic ones, and that’s probably what you’ll remember most as you get older.

LC Lauren Conrad blush peplum topKate Spade Pride & Prejudice book clutch

Adopt healthy habits now.

You’ve always been athletic and basically genetically blessed with height and a small waist. But, trust me – that’s not going to last past college. Make the gym a regular part of your routine now so you’re not struggling to figure it out years down the road. Also, make sure you take care of your skin. Ditch the tanning bed now, and try as hard as you can not to pick at any blemishes. You don’t want to constantly cover up acne scars, do you? If you start these habits now, maybe you won’t have to deal with mild adult acne like I do! And, make sure you slather sunscreen all over that surgery scar on your neck. If you take care of it like I know you will, you won’t even be able to see it in a few years.

Protect your heart.

I don’t solely mean this from boys, but from friends and close acquaintances, too. All I want to tell you about the first is that the guy you’re “dating” right now is so far from who you’re supposed to be with. I wish I could go back in time and run away myself. But, you’ll figure it out on your own soon enough. And, psst – you’re going to meet your future husband in a little more than a year. 🙂 As far as friends, don’t close yourself off but don’t go in with such trust either. You’re going to get burned more times than an 18-year-old should – some of it by your own doing. But, if you take care and shield yourself from some of it up front, it won’t be as difficult to deal with. Also, insist to mom and dad that you get a single room at college instead of a double with a roommate. That’s a story for another time, but trust me on that one. It will save you so much emotional sanity and heartache.

Never (ever!) change who you are.

I hope this goes without saying, but I just want to remind you of the most important point in this whole letter. You’ve never been a follower. You always march to the beat of your own drum and do what YOU want to do, not what others expect you to do. You truly are an individual, and you’re pretty good at not caring what other people think about you (thanks, Dad for this trait!).  This often is questioned, and it’s definitely not the easiest way to live. People will try to change you, compromise your beliefs, but just stick to who you are. Be proud of yourself and what you stand for! You do you, and it will take you so far throughout college and your early adult life.

5 Things I Wish I Could Tell My 18-Year-Old Self

sweater, jeans & flats: Kohl’s | earrings: don’t remember, but here’s similar ones | book clutch: Kate Spade

28-year-old Karly (who’s still trying to figure things out most days, too!)

Ryan and I are away on vacation this week to celebrate my birthday and bask in some much-needed sunshine and warmth! Regular content will be up, but things mostly will be quiet on my end. Can’t wait to catch up with all of you next week!

What do you wish you could tell your younger self?

photos by Kim Kedinger