A group of Wake Forest staff team members from several departments within University Advancement gathered over lunch on March 17, 2017, in Alumni Hall on the University campus to discuss what we know now that we wished we had known at 18.

We shared a variety of “wishes” for the group’s younger selves that spanned a range of topics: patience for the future, risk-taking, independent thinking and taking advantage of opportunities, such as having more (or fewer in one case) relationships. More thoughts included having awareness that there is more outside of one’s 18-year-old, small-town worlds – different paths that can be chosen – and that there is time (and it’s okay) to make mistakes.

A few of us wanted to impart this awareness to our children, so that they will have more advantages than we had. Our discussion led to asking if there were a reason or a person who helped us to understand the areas that were mentioned. Could an individual go back and make one’s 18-year-old self understand these things? Our group concluded that most of the time friends, teachers and others outside the family are better mentors than family members/parents.

The greatest takeaway seemed to be that we can carry over to the present day (the “now”) those things that we wished we had known at 18 :

  • We can still have a bucket list.
  • We can still be courageous in action and push beyond the comfort zone.
  • It is not too late to do some of the things we wished we had done at 18, but do not delay.