I really have no idea how I decided to write this.

The mind works in mysterious ways. Today, I’ve walked the same roads and alleys that I used to walk at 18, on my way for a quick session at a friend’s house or, more often, trying to find the perfect coffee shop to sit quietly and write. I was 18, starting my first year in college, life seemed complicated yet miraculously light.

Walking the same footsteps awakened something in me, triggered a monologue, made me want to talk to you. To you, my 18-old-self, this is what somebody should have told you.

People are your biggest strength. I know, it doesn’t seem like it; people only slow you down, right? Well, you’re just too arrogant and blinded by fear to see it. Open up. People are useful. Connection is beautiful. Alone, you get absolutely nowhere.

Walk as much as you can, cabs are expensive.

Trust your parents, but not too much. Acknowledge that they are people with experiences, who have developed a perspective, and are shaping it the best way they know in order to serve you. Listen to them, but don’t lose your individuality to them. You are your own person, this is the most important fact.

Take care of your teeth. Having good teeth makes life that much easier.

Try to reduce smoking. I would’ve said quit, but I know you hate anyone giving you advice about your smoking habits. Reduce smoking, save the money instead.

Remind yourself to be in the moment, every minute of every day. Don’t let yourself drown in overthinking every little situation, life is too short for that kind of thinking. The only thing that matters is the present, the only thing you can control is what happens now.

Junk food will mess you up. And I am saying this at 24.

Be fiercely unapologetic about who you are. No one in the whole wide world is more important than you are and nobody’s dreams matter more than yours. Be fully real and true to yourself in the pursuit of what you want, anyone else saying otherwise is just chatter along the way.

Travel, you’ll make the funniest and bravest friends.

Be open to change. Every new opportunity is a chance to start over, to reinvent, and to experience. Do not grow comfortable in comfort!

Defy the world: quit business school. You and I both know you will make the right decision, do not think too much about it. Trust me, you will not regret it.

When you feel the world has let you down and that all doors are closed, hold on to the people closest to you. I cannot guarantee they will always be the same. Faces will come and go and circles will change, but there will always be someone. Hold on to them, treat them well while your paths are crossing.

Be amazed by how fabulously weird life is. You’ll feel it, with every passing year, how everything around you changes beyond measure. People are getting jobs, getting married, getting on with their lives, and turning into completely different characters. And so are you. Get used to it, that is called life.

Smile whenever you think you’re late in life. One thing I can guarantee is your unwavering confidence. We’ll make it!

Hold on to love, let go of hate. Love will nurture you, hate will consume you. Understand how powerful the word “hate” is, bar it.

Trust your instinct. It hasn’t failed me, it won’t fail you.

Cabs are really expensive, and walking is good for your body. I can’t stress this enough.

Finally, live. Fully. Truly. Fiercely. Every second matters, use it.


ElMehdi El Azhary is a Storyteller. Mental health activist. History buff. This is your daily dose of unconventional. Click here to read more of his writing

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