18 Life Lessons from 18 18-Year-Olds

We like to believe that wisdom comes with age. And that’s partly true.

But there’s also a profound wisdom in youth. Many parents say they’ve learned more from their young children than from any adult. Every day I’m impressed with the wisdom of my teenage son Connor as he tests complex theories about life and the world around him. Yesterday I wrote about one of the essential truths I had discovered by the time I was 20, to Enjoy the Journey.

I love posts where bloggers condense loads of wisdom into a short list. Among my favorite are posts where bloggers turning 18 share 18 life lessons they’ve discovered before they reach adulthood.

So today, I share 18 life lessons from 18 posts that young adults from around the world wrote when they turned 18. I’ve picked one piece of wisdom from each one, but be sure to click on their names to check out 17 more gems from each one!

  1. Make people listen to what you have to say, writes Iulia Maria of Romania. “Don’t let them tell you you’re ‘just a kid.’ Stand up for what you believe in even if you’re alone!”
  2. Don’t be afraid to say no sometimes, advises Mila.
  3. Choose the right people, Andrei Paras of the Philippines suggests. “Do yourself a favor and distance yourself from people who are detrimental to your well-being.”
  4. Do things that scare you every once in a while, writes Makena Nicole, a Californian studying in New York City.
  5. You’ll have a happier life if you practice being a happy and grateful person, offers Liliana of Australia. “When you are unhappy with the world, pull your focus inward to yourself and work on how you can be happy in an unhappy world.”
  6. Don’t pretend to like things just because other people do, recommends Ruth Sheehan of Ireland.
  7. Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm, writes Rhaea Evelyn Lee of Surrey, England.
  8. If you’re second guessing it, you probably don’t want it, shares Bella.
  9. Sometimes delays are blessings in disguise, suggests Chloe-Ana Braidy of Jamaica.
  10. Be the kind of person and do the things that will make your future self proud, advises Kelsi Crotser.
  11. Never be ashamed of your smile or laugh, writes Elizabeth Anne.If someone ever tells you that you laugh or smile too much, take that as a compliment. Smile often, laugh even more. Be joyful and give that joy to others. Laugh at the funny moments and the stressful ones. Smile to those who need it, and smile when you don’t think you can.”
  12. Always see the positive side of things even though it gets ugly sometimes, recommends Kellina Wanteu.
  13. Never be ashamed of your ambition, shares Alyson Branscum of Kentucky. “You deserve to live a life you’re excited about. Don’t let others make you forget about it.”
  14. Ask as many questions as possible, writes Mara from a small town northwest of Chicago.
  15. It’s okay if you don’t wanna go to that party. It’s okay to stay home on a Friday nightEm of Germany has learned.
  16. Let yourself feel things, writes Eliz, a student in California. “You shouldn’t dismiss your own feelings. Don’t ignore your stress, sadness, or push away your feelings for someone. It’s okay to feel things deeply. You don’t have to be so harsh and cynical all the time.”
  17. Cherish your childhood because it will be gone, advises Alex.
  18. The happiest you’ve ever been is not the happiest you’ll ever be, promises Emily Wunderlich.

What about you? What’s the most important lesson you learned before you became an adult? If you’ve written your own list of lessons learned by a certain age, feel free to scroll down and share the link in the comments below!



  1. It’s lovely how you put it together from so so many people, truly beautiful 🙂 Thank for including this tiny bit of my post – that means a lot!

  2. Hi Keith,

    I’m very pleased to have found your blog and to have read this post today.

    Sometimes young people do not get the credit they deserve. I have always said that I have learnt the most from my children (aged 6 and 7). I believe that all parents are living with their best teachers! This is especially true when they are pushing our buttons and challenging our limitations!

    Children still have an innocence about them (hopefully) and see the world with open eyes and a natural sense of wonder. They teach us to relax a little and enjoy life and not to take things so seriously.

    Unfortunately these qualities seem to start disappearing as we get older and the world starts laying responsibility on us.

  3. This is such an insightful post! I remember people telling me I was too young to know what I was talking about at 18 (but not too young to choose a degree that will set the path for the rest of my life apparently…) and while I’ve definitely changed, so many of my ideals are still the same. I’m so glad that I learned to stand up for what I believe in so young, and I’m glad that other young people recognise how important it is too.

    • Yes, I think our ideals remain. In some ways, I almost feel like now I’m regaining the understanding of what’s important that I had at 18 but lost in my twenties!

  4. It’s comforting to know those 18 year olds will some day lead our country! Lots of good wisdom.

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