18 Things It Means To Love At 18

  1. You simultaneously feel 7 and 37. You’re a child and an adult. You have the carefree naiveté of your childhood, and an inexplicable longing to be a real person, whatever that means. Your relationships are now somewhere between “high school” and “real” and you’re not entirely sure exactly where on the spectrum they are or where you want them to be.
  2. Your partner-in-crime has all of these crazy, random ideas for adventures and you immediately say “Yes!” and jump right into their shenanigans.
  3. You have no idea what you want to be when you grow up (whenever that is). Or you know exactly what you want to be when you grow up—but either way, it’s going to change. Your love is going to influence that and be dragged along your way—and if the chain breaks during the process, you know that it wasn’t meant to be.
  4. You live in each moment and put life and love before responsibility and commitment in order to find the greater balance, which leads you to the best (and worst) romantic experiences.
  5. You live on a broke-college-kid budget, meaning you only spend money on food (and those gorgeous boots you just couldn’t pass up. And that oversize Mickey Mouse sweater). Your love transcends the material things you both don’t have.
  6. You try to live up to role models like Cinderella, Snow White, and Allie from The Notebook and live the Great Hollywood Romance.  But usually, you just watch the Great Romance on Netflix (and if he’s a keeper, he’s sitting right next to you and sharing his popcorn).
  7. You can barely catch your breath because you one day wake up and find yourself suddenly, inexplicably, completely, helplessly in love with someone (you think).
  8. Which is one of the biggest adventures you’ll ever have.
  9. You have your first taste of that strange selfish selflessness when all you want is to make someone else happy and allow them to do the same for you.
  10. And even though you know it’s just another step closer to rock bottom, and it scares you like hell,
  11.  You climb the ladder another step, run forward, and dive head first into the deep end, an adrenaline rush of excitement and fear and vulnerability.
  12. Some days you try to stay afloat, a futile effort because all you really want is to drown in it.
  13. But drowning is scary—the worst is possible without someone to save you.
  14. You have doubts and questions and sometimes all you want to do is cry even though you’re carefree, and have nothing yet to worry or fight about.
  15. You have to trust yourself to make decisions that your forever best friend and your mom used to give you advice on whether you wanted it or not, but now that you’re without it, you feel as if there’s nothing you need more. Trust yourself now. Make mistakes and learn from them. Soon, you’ll be the only main character in your life and no one will be able to know you better than yourself.
  16. You’re afraid of so many looming dates: summer vacation, your semester abroad, graduation, and the dread of an ending you can’t help but see coming.
  17. You’re afraid of that four-letter-word because it seems to stand so absolute and so permanent,
  18. And after all, you’re just 18, and you have no idea what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks it means. TC Mark

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