18 Things I've Learned at 18
by Jamie Gordon
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Don’t be afraid to take up space
You are as vast as the ocean, and the world is your coffee cup
Spill yourself over the edges onto the porcelain saucer
Claim yourself worthy of expansion
If you shrink yourself
to the size of a sugar cube
You will dissolve like one as well.
Your body is the only thing you have in this life
It has been with you this entire time
A best friend
even though at times it seems like your enemy
This body is your vehicle to move through life
Take care of it, respect it, care for it
Every cell in your body is working
Against everything rotten the world has to offer
just to protect you.
People will try to stomp out your light
Like pinching out the flickering flame of a matchstick
Don’t let anyone extinguish you
You have a spark in your heart
That lights up the hollow of your ribcage
Cough out the smoke and allow the world to smell your passion.
If you change yourself
For a significant other
You aren’t a slab of clay
Ready to be molded into whatever
He or she wants you to be
The only thing you are doing is
Breaking off a piece of yourself
And offering it up for judgment
Being vulnerable is scary, yes
But wouldn’t you rather be yourself, unapologetically
Than a cheap imitation?
Family isn’t just parents or siblings
Family is the group of friends
You are with at 1:45 a.m.
Sitting in the trunk of a car looking at the stars
And whispering about the secrets of the universe
Family is the dog who licks the tears off your face when you’re sad
Family is the friend who calls you just to say
She hopes you’ve smiled today.
Don’t be afraid to be alone
Go out to eat by yourself
See a movie by yourself
Go shopping by yourself
Sometimes to truly grasp the idea of closeness
You have to isolate yourself
to know what it feels like to miss company
Being alone with our minds is such an uncanny
Everything seems like the end of the world
But trust me
Just because you missed that homework assignment
Doesn’t mean that the earth will fall out of orbit
Take a breath, make some tea, and regroup.
Virginity is a social construct!
Your worth can’t be measured by how many people you’ve slept
And if that number is high
Don’t be passive
Don’t be a ghost or wispy like a cicada shell in the wind
When it comes to injustice
If you’re turning a blind eye
You are part of the problem.
Get out of your head
Sometimes we get so caught up in
What we think other people think of us
We don’t even know what we think of ourselves.
Likes don’t matter
Retweets don’t matter
Don’t measure your worth based on the likes and shares you receive
We live in such a digital age where vying for likes
dislike ourselves more.
Make friends with people unlike you.
I have a group of friends
Who range anywhere from 14 to 65
The squad of moms I hang out with at the dog park
They tell me I have my whole life ahead of me and I don’t even know
We barely know each other’s names
but I could tell you that Buttercup’s owner suffers from a depressive
And she calls herself a beautiful disaster and then laughs about it
She says it is okay to get help, and that you will never be alone.
If he asks you to leave your friend’s house to come hang out
Be unforgivably passionate
Whether it be for a band, a TV show, a cause
Don’t apologize for using the entire capacity of your heart
For something you care about
Throw all of your energy into what you believe in.
Even if you suck at something
Keep doing it
As long as something makes you happy
It’s worth it.
If he hides venom behind every
Sweet thing that comes out of his mouth
Listen to people when they say he is abusive
Listen to the other women in your support group who say
That you can leave this chapter of your life behind you
And turn the page.
The moment you stop
Comparing your greatness
To the greatness of others
It is then that you will understand
The meaning of contented happiness
She is pretty like herself
And you are pretty like yourself.
Remember that humans are made partly of stardust
We were destined for greatness from the start
It’s pulsing through our veins
The only thing that is standing in your way
You are a storm
glimmering with the intensity of life