This past weekend I had the privilege of attending our first ladies fellowship in 2019 at my home church, Trinity Chapel Ruiru dubbed “New Beginnings”. It was truly a blessing to be in the presence of God and women who are yielded to Christ, witnessing the Holy Spirit move in our midst, stirring up our spirits and souls, bringing a wave of restoration from all the baggage we so heavily carry in our hearts. It is always refreshing being in the presence of like-minded spirits who are intentional about pursuing Christ relentlessly from all ages, the teenagers to the gracefully aged ladies. When we walk alone we walk fast but when we walk with others we get far… That’s the core lesson I’ve picked in my walk of faith, the power of accountability in fellowships.
I recall one question that really got me thinking: If you could go back to being 18 again, what would you do differently? Well first of all, I so wish that was practical because I’d literally run back and do things totally differently, lol… But since I can’t, I can only look back in wisdom and share insights that could help a different 18 year old.
- Finding Yourself:
It’s never that serious: the peer pressure as they try to influence you that you’re missing out on some phase or that if you don’t do something you’ll not be cool… that’s never serious. F. O. M. O. (Fear of Missing Out) only exists in the minds of those who don’t know where they are in life and what they want to achieve. I know at 18 you are transitioning from a child into adulthood, trying to figure out life on your terms and fighting your way to independence which is totally understandable. At this stage in life you are yet to truly understand who you are or where you want to be but be 100% sure about who you are not and where you will not step into. Be sure about things you’ll not do, places and spaces you’ll not find yourself in.
You may not yet figure out your fashion sense but be firm that you’ll not compromise on decency while blindly chasing the latest fashion styles.
You may not yet figure out things you love or your hobbies but be firm that you’ll not compromise on your integrity trying to fit in with cliques that you can out rightly tell are doing the wrong things.
You may not yet figure out who you want to be in life but be firm on who you’ll not be, you’ll not be a laughing example to others, you’ll not let others be the ones who learn from your mistakes, you’ll not be caught up pursuing things that don’t add value to your life.
It’s okay to not know where you’re heading to but please be firm on where you’ll not end up at. Like they say, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll end up falling for anything.
- Finding Friendships:
Once you’ve figured out where you’ll not want to end up at, it becomes so easy picking and forming friendships because you know what you’re looking for. You’ll not end up being the one who always compromises to fit in circles that you didn’t belong to from the very first start. You’ll not fall into peer pressure and end up doing the wrong things because you have firm principles that you’re standing on. You’ll not pick friends who are walking in the opposite direction from where you desire to be.
You’ll be more intentional in choosing a circle that adds value and pushes you in the right direction; friends who share the same values as you, friends who have a positive outlook on life. Some will have figured out where they want to be in life and this will be great because they’ll hold your hand and guide you in finding your path. But even if they won’t have figured it out, you’ll get a chance to be on a discovery journey and form lifelong friendships that will define a big part of your life.
Don’t force friendships. Some will last a season, some will last a lifetime. Be wise enough to know the difference and have the courage to walk away when the time is right. Some friendships are worth fighting for and others are not…when it drains your peace, when it’s toxic for you, when it’s no longer adding value, when it’s one way, when you are both growing apart and not in the same journey, have the courage to find yourself in a different space. Accept that people will walk away from you and most times it will have lil to do with you but with their season in your life. While at it, ensure you enjoy your friendships to the fullest, give your all, be the best support to them while you can so that when time is up, you don’t walk away feeling regrets, feeling doubts that you are to blame, that you could have done better.
- Finding Love.
You’re too young to be thinking about love right now, lol… but I understand you’re on the journey of self-discovery and at some point you’ll find yourself liking someone of the opposite sex, some you’ll crush hard on, some will be infatuations to last a minute and some won’t easily fade away. It’s normal. Do yourself a big favour, don’t get into this space if you’ve not figured out your standards and your values.
The biggest risk would be falling for someone without understanding yourself then sadly end up compromising everything to please them. You neglect yourself and pour out your heart and soul to someone who doesn’t feel the same way. Heartbreak is a love unrequited. Don’t be in a rush to find love, take time to know who they are, build on friendship, discover their likes, dislikes, hobbies, secrets. Find out all you can about them, at least what they are willing to share. Then you can figure out if you’re on the same page of life or not.
I’ll be very honest, most relationships that start out in teenage years rarely make it past the age of 25. Why? Because at 18 you’re both young, naive in matters of life, you’re still grappling around trying to understand yourselves. You’re in the journey of becoming. Once you get to 25, you’ve changed, they’ve changed and thus high chances of falling out because they are not the person you thought they were, well neither are you. And it’s not because you are the wrong person, neither are they… It’s simply because you both discover you’re in different paths of life and can’t walk together again.
Find yourself before you find the other person. Become the person the one you’re looking for is searching for.
At 18 am sure you feel that your parents are always opposing you and know nothing about what you’re going through. Biggest lie of all times. Your family is the only support that is true and unconditional. They tell you as it. They love you as you are. They accept you with all you have. Don’t be in a rush to grow up and move out. Have a teachable spirit, learn from their lives, and enjoy bonding with them because they are the best at helping you discover yourself in the safest space void of discrimination or judgements.
Deliberately spend time with your folks, get to know them and build on a genuine friendship with them, they just want the best for you. Make your family your friends and I assure you that’s the best emotional investment of all times. One day when you’re older and in need, you’ll have them to lean on for support and it won’t be awkward because home will always be your familiar place. Enjoy playing with your nephews and nieces, delightfully help out your young siblings, and support your parents by being a good obedient child. Family time is always the best time.
- Finding God:
Lastly but most important of all, find God for yourself, get to know Him, not just knowing about Him. Pursue an intimate relationship and a true connection with Christ. Not because your parents demand your presence in church every Sunday, not because your church has a cool teenage program where you can hang out with your buddies. Pursue Him because you genuinely want to experience Him. Am pretty sure you’ve grown up with some sort of connection spiritually but nothing brings exceeding joy and satisfaction than nurturing that relationship yourself. And the best part about knowing and growing in Christ is that everything outside Him fits and falls perfectly in place.
A relationship with God will lead you on a journey of self-discovery, you’ll get to know your worth, your identity rooted in how God sees you and you’ll blossom into the individual you were created to be. You’ll discover your gifts and talents early enough, you’ll learn how to love unconditionally because you’ll have tasted first hand true love from God who is LOVE himself. He will teach you how to better relate with others, how to be kind, compassionate, merciful, understanding, how to see people how He sees them.
Your best life will begin once you start living it in Christ. I am a living testimony, no regrets but the one thing I would change if I was 18 again was this, to pursue God with all of my heart. I know it doesn’t mean that my life would have being perfect or smooth, but there would be a huge difference and comfort sailing in storms with God than drowning out in the dark alone.
In a nutshell, to the 18 year olds out there, you are young and free. Live authentically. Be boldly unashamed of who you are. Never stop learning. Never stop evolving into your best version. Want more and become more. You live once so while at it, make the journey worthwhile and leave the best legacy in your space.
Lots of love,
From a gracefully aged, once upon a time naïve 18 year old.