What would I do if I was 18 all over again?

I saw a tweet from Escape the City about “ What would you do if you were 18 all over again?” and it linked to this article (which is a great read by the way. )

This question really got me thinking. The summer after I turned 18 was when I got my A-level results I was absolutely devastated when I “only” got 2 B’s and a C. I had the dream of becoming a doctor from a youngish age. Thinking back on it now I was probably becoming a doctor for all the wrong reasons these being:-

  1. Family pressure in an Indian house there invariably 3 professions in the entire world doctor, accountant and pharmacist. To this day every 6 months or so I get asked by my mum “why don’t you become an accountant?” makes me laugh so hard when I hear her say it I am good with numbers but I couldn’t think of anything more tedious.(Apologies to any accountants)
  2. Money I honestly thought being a doctor could potentially earn me a lot of money and to be totally honest doctors (once you get through the junior phase) they are paid OK (at least in the UK).
  3. After my grandfather had a heart attack was when I thought I wanted to be a doctor. (not technically a wrong reason but also not the reason you should become a doctor).

Looking back on it now I am actually happy I didn’t make it in to med school (although I did try more than once). I would still my 18 year old self to go to university (not to learn about Biochemistry although I love science but to make the friends who have always been there for me). The friends I have made at university are the ones that have been most important in my life going forward.

I would make sure that I was always experiencing something new and make sure that any “failure” I had was never a failure but just an opportunity to learn something. Not be afraid to do something because of “failure” but to do it because you can fail.

Basically I would be myself now but half my age which would give me a great run up to do more things.

I think at the age of 35 I have actually regressed in a good way. I have a much more positive outlook on life now than I did when I was 18 as I always felt like a bit of a social outcast at school (still do now but it doesn’t bother me so much these days). When you are young social acceptance is such a huge thing and as you get older you realise that actually I don’t need everyone to like me (although that would be nice) but if the people I work with and the friends I have (whether that is 1 or 50 it doesn’t matter how many) like me then that is enough.

If I knew then what I know now it would have saved me huge amounts of anxiety and stress, but then again I wouldn’t be the person I am now if I hadn’t gone through those experiences. It is a bit of a cliche your experiences make you what you are. It is not the things that are easy for you to do that define you but how you react in the face of adversity and doing something at one stage you may have thought was impossible.

If I could tell my 18yo self one thing it would be your results don’t define who you are. What you do and who you meet and the impact you have on the world around you defines who you are, you’ll meet some amazing people in your life and get to go to some amazing places, appreciate them and stay hungry to learn and experience as much as you can.

As the day you stop learning is the day a piece of you will die and in its death there will be a gaping hole that you will never be able to fill with anything else.