10 Things I Learnt Since Turning 18

1) "You look a lot older" is not always a compliment. You hip young things think you get +100 cool points for looking older? Wrong. The look of disappoint on the questioner's face when you inform them that you are not in fact 21, so unfortunately you cannot take part in their survey, or you are actually "18 and not 22 so I'm sorry but I'm not interested in hooking up with your mate" is enough to tell you being 18 and looking 18 are apparently two completely different things and that looking older is not always as cool as it may seem. 

2) Do not expect to go out on the piss every night - or want to. People have lives outside of crowded Wetherspoons and sweaty nightclubs. Your friends aren't going to be available at your every beck and call. They might not have the funds for yet another night on the lash. They might, just this once, want you to fuck off so they can enjoy a quiet night in. And so do you. I don't feel dejected or like I'm missing out on any best-years-of-your-life memories when I have to stay in because, actually, it's a blessing to relax and do nothing once in a while.

3) Appreciate mum and dad. They MADE you, from a SINGLE CELL. They RAISED you. They paid for EVERYTHING that has made you who you are today. Your parents put up with a lot of shit before you were even a fragment of their imagination. They don't need any more stress and discomfort from their offspring. Love them, because they sure as hell love you.

4) Don't give up on education... I know it's tempting; the irresistible urge to stay in bed after a heavy night out, the failure to meet expectations (both of your course and yourself) and the typical "I just don't think this is for me" excuse. Stress is constitutive of education if you take it seriously enough. Play hard work harder, blah blah blah. Even if something better comes along, education is always a good back up. Plato thought education was the key to life, and people think he was a pretty decent bloke.

5)... But don't categorize success and gratification by grades. The list of successful and happy people who didn't get the grades is endless. Education is a quintessential necessity, but getting a B instead of an A* is not the be all and end all. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. Doing well in A Levels doesn't mean you'll do well in university, or enjoy it for that matter. It's not for everyone, but going to university shouldn't - and doesn't - guarantee you'll be any happier than someone who doesn't.

6) Sleep and exercise are essential. It might seem pointless telling students that they need to sleep, because stereotypes dictate it is all we do. All-night benders and late night TV marathons may be fun short term, but in the long run it can damage your sleeping pattern and consequently fuck up your plans. Copious amounts of caffeine and vitamin pills are no substitute for a good night's kip. And exercise is key, as cliche as it sounds. As difficult as it is to conjure up the motivation, exercise boosts your endorphin levels, meaning it actually makes you feel happy (though the pain and sweat may distract from this).

7) It's okay to put yourself first. I like to think of myself as very family and friend orientated, often putting their problems before my own. But I'm constantly kicking myself because I didn't give myself the chance to get what I wanted to say off my chest at the right time. Sometimes you need to make a situation all about you, because your problems are just as important as your best friend's or your sisters.

8) "Winging it" seldom works and is a poor attitude. In every sense: revision, exams, arguments, cooking, DIY, sex, ordering peculiar cocktails. Think about it before you do it.

9) Derogatory jokes belong in the stone age, but dick puns and sexual innuendos are timeless. If you hear a good one, jot it down, keep it forever, cherish it, whip it out whenever the opportunity arises.

10) Independent shops are leaps and bounds better than international franchises: When I was 16 I may as well have had shares in Starbucks and Costa; I practically lived in them, because I hate staying in the house all day when I have nothing to do. But in big cities like Sheffield there are so many cool and quirky independent shops and cafe that don't get the recognition they deserve because conglomerates like Starbucks hog all the limelight. Now you can most likely find me at Tamper, because their coffee is ten times better than Starbucks and the atmosphere in general is ten times nicer too. There are so many cafes I've driven past and admired, but haven't had the chance to visit yet.

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