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It’s funny how much changes in seven years. At 18, you believe you’ll get whatever you want, as long as you work hard and put yourself out there. Then you grow up, finish college, and enter the real world. You realize all that glitters is not gold and that you may not have had an accurate judgment of what your life would look like “in the real world.”
As an 18 year old, I was mature, grounded, and atypical. But despite holding a full-time job throughout all my college years, I still wasn’t completely prepared for what life after school held. I was deceived in thinking everything would bend to my will if I worked at it hard enough. Naivete at its best. These are just some of the ideas I believed.
I could do any job I wanted.
Wrong. I soon realized that even the most basic jobs could be a struggle for me. I was better at caring for Alzheimer’s residents in an assisted living than calling up people cold and trying to sell them something. I was not cut out for that kind of job, and it destroyed me. Even though it paid great for entry-level, I was suffering from panic attacks thinking about work every day. So I left and spent the next six months under-employed.
I would make a $30k salary in my first job.
Aside from the sweet gig I scored right out of school (trying to sell people an idea), my first real job put me smack dab in underemployment at $10/hr. Everywhere I applied was paying no more than $23-$28k salaries, if it was salary at all. I was inexperienced, and I didn’t know how to sell myself in an interview. I still don’t really know how. All I know is no one wanted to give me a typical entry-level salary at $30k a year. No one.
I would be married by 22.
At 18, I was sure I’d be married by 22. Thank the Lord I wasn’t. I was not prepared for marriage at that time, and if I had married my then-boyfriend, my life would be miserable. I didn’t meet my husband until the winter before my 23rd birthday, and we were just friends at that time. Now I’m surprised I actually got married at 25! Two years ago I would have said I was NEVER getting hitched. Crazy how things change.
I would buy a house before 25.
Well, I’m 25 and houseless. I actually live in a teeny one bedroom apartment (thanks to under-employment). Still, I’m not ready for a house now, nor do I want the responsibilities of caring for a home. Foolish thinking of a typical teenager. A house is a big decision, and I won’t try to pretend that I know anything about it.
I would never have to worry about money.
Since graduating college, and even some before then, my life has been filled with money worries. If I had been frugally minded in my early college years, I would be in a completely different financial place now. Then again, you can’t fill your thoughts with regret. If I had been different then, I may not have met my loving husband and my life could be much different in a worse way. Plus, I never would have decided to join the Air Force, which will undoubtedly be the best decision I’ve made thus far.
I think the biggest takeaway is that you can never plan your life. Not even in five year stints. Goals, plans, and ideas are wonderful and keep us motivated, but it’s all in God’s hand. You could be diagnosed with cancer, get in a horrible car wreck, lose your job, get pregnant, etc. A multitude of things could change your life over night. Tomorrow is not promised. We cannot get wrapped up in planning a future that isn’t promised to us.
We also have to remind ourselves that the past is behind us and we need only to look forward and try to learn from mistakes.
What misguided beliefs did you have at 18?