18 years old. It’s when everything feels possible. I’m about to go out into the world and start my real life.

Then I realize that my real life for the next two year is living at home to save money, going to the local JuCo and working. What kind of “life” is that?

Ever since graduating I’ve felt like I’ve been wasting my potential. I’m conscious of my fleeting youth yet I have no idea how to take advantage of it. I want to make a difference. I want to do Something with my life.

For the last half of high school I had my something.

At the beginning of senior year I was preparing to buy a local cafe and jump right in to be the new owner by the time of Graduation. I’d been long dreaming of becoming a business owner, especially a restaurant. I was ecstatic when I received this offer, everything was going so incredibly well.

So without a doubt when I learned that a better offer was put in, I was destroyed.

That was my dream. It was what I was planning to do with my life. I began envisioning the place as my own. No one at that time could tell me that I couldn’t make it happen; I was absolutely determined. I remember driving home crying and spending the rest of the day in my room. I felt like an idiot for having been so excited.

I went into this trying so hard to be realistic and keep from being naive, yet here I am, crushed.

That’s one of the biggest issues I’ve always had. Keeping both feet on the ground and being realistic. Not over thinking, not jumping to conclusions or associating events or happenings with my own self worth.

This is one personal example of me losing something to gain so much more.

Looking back at everything that has ever hurt me has all come to help me in the end. Heartbreak, ended friendships, lost opportunities…They’ve all helped me grow and develop a deep relationship with myself.

I understand that’s not the case for everyone. Sometimes terrible things happen, and there’s no rhyme or reason. I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. I’ve some how just ended up lucky this far.

I always knew I didn’t have to have it all figured out by 18, but I still had felt strongly that my career is my medium to make the biggest impact on those around me.

I’ve finally been able to feel that my career isn’t how I will impact people. Who I am as a human being is the biggest focus I personally need to have.

So, right now I’m trying to be the best version of myself that I can be and trying to be a decent human being; I believe that’s the very least of my responsibilities. I’m finally at peace with the fact that I really don’t know “what I’ll be when I grow up” yet.

I know I want to help people in a different way than usual. I want to help people see what they’re capable of, to see their worth and their beauty and to be comfortable with who they are. I don’t really know how I’ll one day pay the bills by doing it. Will I be a therapist? A life coach? Will I spend my life as a cabbage merchant who is constantly foiled by a group of young water, earth and air benders? Who knows! I sure as hell don’t.

As my dad always tells me “you have to enjoy the journey of getting there and finding it”. So that’s what I’m doing.

I’m 18 years old, and I’m living my real life – trying to make a decently positive impact on those around me because I am emotionally capable of it.

I love to smile at strangers. I love to give genuine compliments. I love to make those around me see the beauty and capabilities and admirable qualities they have. I want to make my part of the world a little bit kinder and brighter.

That’s what I want to do with the rest of my life. I want to help other people see just how strong and capable they really are.

So I am doing something with my life every day.

You are doing something with your life every day too.

Be sure it is good for you and those around you.