As you turn 18, you make me feel both old and grateful I am not your age. I’m turning 30 this year, and having watched you grow up, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would say to my 18-year-old self. I’ve been thinking a lot about you and the changes that are approaching you in your life. I know we’re not the closest, and I am probably your “weird cousin” — I’m many people’s “weird ___” in our family — but here’s my unsolicited birthday advice for you as you head off on your next journey.
Go to college.
Seriously, just do it.
Do what you love.
When in college, don’t pick a major because that’s what will get you a job. Or that’s what your parents want you to do. Or that’s what your teachers think you’re good at. Or that’s what the cute boy’s majoring in. Instead, do what you love. Find something where your homework’s not work, that you can lose yourself in for hours, that you want to learn about outside the classroom, that you can “geek out” about anytime you’re prompted. Only you can find that.
You won’t know what you’re going to major in or what you’re going to do when you grow up.
And you’re not alone. When I was a college n00b, I thought I was the only one without a major, and then as a senior, I tutored a bunch of freshies. Not a single one really knew what they were going to major in. That’s okay. It’s also okay to not have a 5-year plan or know what you want to do when you grow up. It took me at least 2-3 years into my career before I found what I loved. Heck, my current career, as a community manager, didn’t even exist my first year of college, and the greater industry that I’m part of, just got started then.
Prepare to fight to do what you love.