1. You are not your weight
For some dumb reason, I had it in my head that people liked super skinny people better than they liked everyone else. If I'm being honest, I started long distance running for the sole purpose of losing weight. And I wasn't big to start out with at all!
I look back and think, Man... what a waste of energy and fuel! I could have been PR'ing and getting stuff done! Who cares what the number on the scale is if you don't have energy to do anything?
2. You are not your performance
I grew up in an amazing home. My parents are incredibly supportive -- came to every game, recital, concert, field trip... you name it! My Type-A nature, and my desire to please my parents created a performance-based sense of worth in me. I needed to be the best. I was hyper competitive (I'm still pretty competitive, but I'm working on losing more gracefully).
I learned a lot at 18 about failure and not getting what you want or what you think you earned. At the time, it kicked my butt. But now I know that those failures, along with some hard times Matt and I have had over the past couple years with layoffs and money, have made me a better person. I'm more patient. I'm more frugal. I'm more empathetic and understanding. Every part of life can build you up or tear you down. It all depends on how you receive it and move forward -- triumphs and failures alike.
3. Really think about what type of career would be fulfilling
Texas A&M's Christian bubble is really weird. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'd be the Christian I am today had it not been for the people I met within that bubble, but it was just a really weird mentality. Everyone wanted to be a pastor or a pastor's wife. Almost to the extent that it made you feel bad if you weren't on that path, as if having a normal job were bad (you know, someone has to make the money to tithe so that pastors can live!!).
Anyways, so after I became a believer in 2010, I was on the path towards stay-at-home momhood and being a pastor's wife. I honestly kind of blew off my career path and ended up in Communications simply because they would accept all of my random classes (I changed degrees 4 times) as electives and let me graduate early so that I could get married.
I married Matt and realized that I'd have to work while he was in school. A kind man at church gave me a job at a random company. My mostly administrative role morphed into a marketing role, and that's how I ended up in marketing. I never really "chose" it.
Now, I like marketing. It's creative, but it's also a stable income. But sometimes I wonder what I might have chosen had I not gone to college in a place with such a weird mentality towards work. Like maybe I would have studied exercise science or nutrition. Or maybe graphic design. Who knows! I'm in a really good place right now with my life and my career, but sometimes I just wonder what things would be like had I taken my degree more seriously.
4. Your relationship with God trumps all other relationships
Pre-Matt, I was very focused on friendship. And on my life path of becoming a dog lady. And then I had a beautiful season where I spent a ton of time in prayer and in the Bible. Matt then swept me off my feet and I was hooked on him. I wanted to spend all my time with him. My final semester, I even drove every weekend to Houston to see him (he was working at a church, so he couldn't come to me on weekends).
I prioritized him and I prioritized my friends over my relationship with God. And while a lot of the time, Matt and my friends and I would end up talking about God, that doesn't take the place of actually spending time alone in prayer and meditation.
This is something I'm still working on -- how do I love my husband sacrificially, prioritize friends, volunteer, and also have time to read the bible, meditate on the Word, and pray?
I know the answer in my head -- you just make time for it. Just like I made time to drive to Houston to see Matt. I should have that same hooked-on-you mentality towards God that compels me to want to pray.
Again, this is something I'm still praying through and working on.
5. Slow down
When I was 18, I was always wishing for the next step. Wishing for class to be over. Wishing for a big test to be over. Wishing to be able to "Whoop" at a football game (weird Aggie tradition reserved for upperclassmen). Wishing to be married. Wishing for graduation.
As a 26 year old, more than 4 years out of college, I look back and wish I would have just slowed down. Cherished my independence, appreciated my parents for footing all my bills, and made the most of my super flexible schedule.
I still need to think this way too. I know that when Matt and I have kids, we will have even less time than we do now.
6. Do things because you enjoy them
This kind of ties back into the idea of people pleasing and wanting people to like you for really external reasons. I feel like I even chose some of my hobbies and pass times based on how I thought people would perceive them. I've hung onto running, but my mentality towards it is totally different.
I would tell myself to loosen up and just do things because you like them, and don't care about if they're super dorky or not. Dorky confession: I'm playing Dungeons & Dragons on Sunday over Skype with my husband and a group of our friends in NYC. You know why? Because I think it's really fun. It's like verbal creative writing. Plus, I really like dragons. Yeah, that's really super dorky -- arguably as dorky as it gets -- but I don't freaking care because I think it's fun.
I would tell my 18-year-old Bridget to ease up and enjoy things for whatever they are.