Five things I’d do… if I were 18 again

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If you were 18 again, what would you change? I had dinner with my niece the other day, and she looked so bright and shiny, sitting across from me – milk still on her face, complexion flawless, eyes bright and her mind wide open and flexible to all future possibilities. She was talking about running for school president, and exuded fearlessness in the way we all had been back then.

You know, the time before we had demanding jobs, mortgages, life insurance, cellulite and children. Back when any dream was possible, and could be made true, solely by desire and sheer will. I have to admit I was halfway listening to her because really, I was looking into my own past and compiling a mental list of my top five changes, if it were 1989, and I was 18 again.


1. Live with Mom and Dad… until they throw me out

First on the list, without a doubt, I would have lived at home until I was at least 50 or until my parents decided to throw my ass out. Where was I going in such a rush, and more importantly, why? If I knew then what I know now, I would have continued to live at home for as long as possible. Even after I went on to get married and have children, I would STILL be living at home. You know how much money I could have saved because of the nominal ‘rent’ that my parents would have charged? Not only that, you know how much cut-eye and arguments with my husband could have been avoided solely by my mother’s swift intervention? Man, she would have he straight like a pin and I wouldn’t have had to even break a sweat. I am a real fool.


2. Take care of my looks

The second point on the list focuses on the physical. Part A, I would have had my dreadlocks way earlier. I cannot express to you in words how in love I am with them. After a shampoo and towel dry, to have them standing up all around my head like a lion’s mane, makes me feel like the sexiest, prettiest, most natural woman around. Why did I spend so many years messing around with chemicals?

Part B would concern the wearing of sunscreen. I cringe when I remember the days of going to Great Race and rubbing myself down with baby oil, tanning. You KNOW you did it too! Some of my friends even used olive oil because the tan from that was said to be richer.  The damage we did to our skin is horrendous. Luckily, thanks to great genes, I do not look my age and have remained relatively wrinkle free, even though 40 is around the corner. I just wonder if I had been diligent about wearing it from young, how much better I could have looked?


3. Have more sex

If I were 18 again, I would have had way more sex. Actually, let me rephrase that. I would have had way more sex partners. The Kinsey Institute reports that females 30-44, on average, have had four, male sexual partners in their lifetime. Let’s just say that I am below the average. Yeah, I know. Growing up in Cascade and going to Convent in the 80s meant that it would have been a fate worse than death to have had sex and worse, fall pregnant. I cannot imagine how I would have even put meh mout’ to tell my parents that I was pregnant, because, of course, at 18 you were taught that was the natural outcome to any pre-marital sex. The real joke is that my mother had worked at Family Planning, at one time, so I knew all the contraception options at an early age, but the idea of asking for protection to have sex was just unimaginable.

Let’s not even talk about my fear of having the whole of Port of Spain knowing about and commenting on my sexual activity. No way papa.  Nowadays, this is not a big deal and I see less uptight ladies, or what some of the more judgmental people of my generation called ‘ole hoes’, walking around just as happy, fulfilled and respected as I am, despite all the ‘mauvais langue’ sent their way. In retrospect, the change for me would really have been more about my ridiculous fears and misconceptions about sex, and actually less about my actual number of sex partners.


4. Save more

Do you remember how much disposable income you had with your little sad job back then compared to how much you have now with your ‘big’ salary? Twenty years ago, I had no debts, not even university ones, because I was lucky and smart enough to get a full scholarship. Sure I saved, but who is thinking about retirement then? At 18, you think you will live forever. I can just kick myself when I imagine all of the money I could have saved and invested. Hello…can anyone say compound interest?


5. Be more confident… and even more conspicuous

If I were 18 again, I would have stood proud, straight as a sapling, and looked down on everyone else who was less than five foot ten. I slouched horribly in my youth, curving my spine so that my head could be level with my friends and to not be so noticeable, except when playing netball. I know many of my tall sisters who did the same thing and nowadays we have to make a conscious effort to stand up straight. These days, some of us even like to rock stilettos. Maybe that also says something about conformity, and the fact that I should have been more willing to be an original back then. Whatever the deep analysis shows, I sure am glad that I outgrew that particular habit.

So there you have it. Some of my top five are going to remain undone because now is certainly not the time to be trying to cross some of those ‘t’s or dot those ‘i’s’.  People tend to regret the things they didn’t do when they were young, rather than the things they did. However, let’s flip the script; instead of looking back with regret, why not look forward with determination? Which one of your five things will you start doing tomorrow?


Nicole Anatol

Nicole Anatol is a Trini woman who is still mulling things over. What she has realized is that the older she gets, the more she wonders and that is the beauty of life.

1 Comment

  1. Gayle

    October 25, 2010 at 2:08 am

    That piece of advice is key! Just be more confident and believe in yourself and what you can do!

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