> You don't have to feel like an alien

From Everything Changes, the Awl’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

I asked readers of Everything Changes what they’d tell their 18-year-old selves, if they could (inspired by this tweet).

You can read all the responses here, and below is a small fairly random selection. (Yes, someone did say “Wear sunscreen,” which I also think is good advice.)

  • Just because somebody is romantically interested in you doesn’t mean you have to be romantically interested in them.
  • Thirst is not a good look on you.
  • It’s okay to be nice to yourself.
  • You are right to want to get out, and you are right that you will not come back. — Meredith M-N
  • Stop spending money on bad bullshit; just spend it on *quality* bullshit. — Hugh P.
  • Hey, you’re gay! That’s why you feel like you don’t fit in! — Erin D.
  • You will find your place, over and over again. — Megan
  • Everyone is going to sell out. You will do it less than others and it will make your life harder. — Amy K.
  • Just buy shrink-to-fit Levi’s 501s, wear ’em dark, you don’t need any other jeans.
  • It’s OK, sex isn’t supposed to be like this. You don’t have to feel like an alien. — Z.
  • Get an IUD. Remembering birth control pills is for the birds.
  • Get therapy. The kind of therapy matters. Get cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • It’s okay to be “intimidating.” — A.M.
  • Just because someone is older than you does not make them smarter than you. Remember that. — Kat
  • Do it now. — Julianne F-M
  • Life’s a lot better outside the closet. — Fernando P.
  • Don’t steal your best friend’s man to help boost your own self confidence. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. — Julia H.
  • Your relationship with God is the only one that won’t let you down at some point. But if you build it, it’s more than enough to keep the other ones (and you) alive. — Patrick
  • Don’t tolerate bad, fucked up behavior just because you think those perpetrating it are cool. — H.S.
  • When he asks you to marry him, say yes.
  • In June of 2016 you will swim in the ocean with three people who love you and you will mostly not be scared. Armadillos will make your heart swell. Maybe don’t take shrimp on a backpacking trip. Every time you travel (unless you are depressed) you’ll come home with a few new poems. You have plenty of time to write them.
  • Say “yes” first. — Rich M.
  • The most important thing is to remain true to yourself. Don’t listen or give a shit what anyone else thinks. Trust me. — Esme W.
  • Stay away from Sophie. She is not your friend.
  • Try to make friends with yourself. Try to be kind to this person (you!) who is just trying to do their best. — Hannah
  • Please stop beating yourself up about having gotten accidentally pregnant twice. You are not gross or stupid, your sexuality is not gross or stupid. In ten years you will look back at this time and marvel at how brave and strong you were.

Thank you so much to everyone who added thoughts.

How weird is it to reach a point in your life where you’re kind of wise? Weird and nice.

From Everything Changes, the Awl’s newsletter. Subscribe here.