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7 Things I Wish I Knew at 18

1. Friendships take time. - Before coming to college, I certainly wasn't under the pretense that making friends was going to be easy (especially since I don't party), but what I didn't realize was how hard it was going to be to find the ones who were really going to be consistent in their behavior and stick around. While it seems to be that everyone is seeking for new friendships, it's important to know your self-worth and identify with the people who make you a better person. That doesn't necessarily mean disregard those who aren't, but it just means to not be so quick to label. Once you give someone the label of 'friend', you give them power in your life. But, when that day comes that something goes awry in the friendship, you may find yourself saying the usual, "But I thought you were my friend." It takes a crazy amount of time to make friends in the real world. This isn't like high school where you see the same strangers, in the same class, at the same hour, of everyday and then they become less of strangers and more of friends. This is a time for you to figure out who you are and then apply that identity to other people. Listen to the signs (as small and quiet as they may be) that tell you if someone is not going to be a friend for you. We live in a time where everyone thinks that we should have hundreds of friends, when in reality after every stage in our life, we're only left with a couple (and we pray that they're the same ones as before).

2. You are lucky to have someone in your life that cares about you. - Although my roommate and I weren't necessarily friends during my freshman year of college, we were instantly very friendly to one another and cared about one another's well-being. This is an anomaly in the real world and the lesson is to embrace it when it happens. Unless you go to school back home, expect to be alone for a couple of weeks until you find someone else who's alone to. Now alone doesn't necessarily mean that you're a recluse or a loser. It happens to everyone. Just beware of the people who say they care for you, but don't necessarily show that they do. The old adage, "Actions speak louder than words" applies here more than ever.
3. Your parents are always your best friends at the end of the day. - Although I have great parents, we never grew to be as close as we are now. My mom seemed to be like my interactive daily diary in my first-year of college as we exchanged stories and lessons to one another. Now, they say that the calls happen less frequent as the years go on, but mine have only increased because important to have your parents as involved in your life as possible. For the most part, they're going to be the only thing that's consistent in your life. You don't see it now, but your relationships with your parents will be so incredibly awesome as life goes. You can't go through it without them. You're just not big enough to live it alone.
4. The world is a really big place. - You get dumped and agonize over the fact that you're going to have to see that person again every day -- this thought, I've learned, is very 'high school.' In the real world, when something like that happens, you usually never see the person again (or for long enough where you don't care about what they did anymore). It's kind of a funny or beautiful thing. So, brush it off and wake up every day happy and inspired by the new opportunities that await.
5. "When people tell you who they are, believe them." - Okay, this is really a quote by poet Maya Angelou, but it's definitely one of my favorites for life. I can't tell you how many times I've heard stories from others where people have told them through actions or literally that they didn't really care about them, were liars, stole things, were unreliable, were users, or unfortunately, all of the above. One of the greatest lessons in life is looking for those signs and noticing them early on. It doesn't mean to completely remove the person from your life (*cough* never delete phone numbers because you'll regret it), but just be cautious of the trouble that may come. Trust me; this quote will serve you well in college and every facet of life.
6. Staying true to yourself is the best advice anyone can ever give you. - College is a place where it seems like everyone is trying to fit in. It's less worse than high school, but you find yourself seeing a group of people as the same person. While this may be a bit judgmental, this lesson isn't about what others are doing, but about what you can do amongst the confusion. It's something that you're going to have to learn by yourself, but when you're miles away and you feel alone, always remember to be true to yourself. Know your morals and don't change them just because you want to be in someone's life for a couple of weeks. Because that first time turns into the twenty-fifth time and then you wake up one morning not knowing who you're looking at in the mirror. Just be good to people and yourself, and all will be well.
7. Every single thing works out at the end of the day. - Don't worry so much. Life's going to be great no matter what happens. You have to realize that everything happens in order with a purpose. Just work hard, conquer your dreams, and know that everything's going to be great at the end of the day. (Looking back, I still feed myself this daily, but in all honesty -- I think even the world's biggest dreamers do.)
Credit: Alternet
Editor's note: This story was originally written shortly after Tywan's 18th birthday.

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