Graduating first in my senior high school class.
Flat-ironing my hair.
The Ralph Lauren bedding my mother bought me for my college dorm.
The number of calories in french fries.
Maintaining an over 4.0 GPA.
The sale section at Victoria’s Secret.
The UVA bumper sticker I affixed to the back of the hand-me-down forest green Toyota Camry I shared with my sister.
Earning all fives on my AP examinations.
Having a date to senior prom. His name was Enrique and he was a grade school friend of mine I’d had a crush on for years. It was an awkward night made more awkward by the fact that I’d not actually spoken to Enrique in person for years prior to asking him out. But I had a date. And he was cute.
Chatting with my girlfriends on AIM.
My secret AIM handle.
Sleepovers at the homes of my friends Elizabeth and Nicole.
Visiting my brother at college and seeming cool to his friends.
Mastering the words to “Still Fly” by Big Tymers.
Lilly Pulitzer dresses and Jack Rogers sandals.
The pictures affixed to the inside of my locker — all blurry, printed in 4×6 at the MotoPhoto in Cleveland Park, and presenting various permutations of my girlfriends and I with our arms around one another at the beach, at parties, at dances, in backyards. It was an unapologetically conspicuous mosaic of my perceived importance to other people.
My Kate Spade planner and the gel pens I used to color coordinate school assignments in it.
The pearl necklace my parents gave me for my senior portrait.
The notes my girlfriends and I would leave for one another pinned to the message board on the ground floor of Founder’s Hall: all shorthand for inside jokes; all pointless save for the externalized gesture of our friendship.
My J. Crew clogs.
The approval of my parents.
The degree to which my banana yellow uniform polo shirt could be faded — a strange proxy for laissez-faire rule-flouting and seniority at my high school.
The possibility that the handsome Georgetown undergrads next door to my high school might see me driving down R Street with my music turned all the way up.
Meaningless flirtations with boys, from which my girlfriends and I would derive hours of analysis.
Having discerning opinions on books.
Appearing blase in response to the overtures of boys who liked me but who I deemed uncool.
Appearing blase in response to the absence of overtures by boys who did not like me but who I deemed cool.
Mixed CDs from my girlfriends.
The Aiwa multi-CD player my parents gave me for Christmas that occupied about half of my bedroom shelving.
The miniature size and neatness of my penmanship.
Getting into Princeton. (I did not.)
Disguising my red-hot envy and humiliation in response to the news that not only one but two of my best girlfriends got into Princeton. (Did I mention that I did not?)
Ralph Lauren Romance perfume and Clinique Dramatically Different moisturizer.
The length of my uniform kilt (short / short / short).
It’s strange to realize how little I valued the things that I would now give anything to reclaim: the fact that my maternal grandmother was still alive; the fact that I had flawless skin and a teenage body; the fact that I was not financially responsible for my life or its many comforts; the fact that my parents sat with me every night at the dining room table; the fact that I had my own bedroom in a beautiful stone house on a hill overlooking Rock Creek Park; the fact that I lived with the very best friends I will ever have in my life–my sisters–and I will never have the opportunity to spend so much sustained time in their presence again.
It’s also strange to realize that the only entry on this list that still matters to me today is the approval of my parents. I look back and have to suppress a desire to tsk at myself: “So much wasted energy.” But it wasn’t wasted energy. Features of prominence — test scores, applications, teen-sized relationships — loom, then recede, as we age, meaningful stepping stones to our future selves. So often, the mountains have proven to be foothills. But I’m grateful I took the ascent seriously at the time nonetheless: it has brought me here.
What did you care about at 18?
*Image above of Kiernan Shipka wearing Gucci behind the scenes of a shoot for AnOther Mag.
+I know it feels like an eternity until fall will be here, but we’re only a hop, skip, and jump away — AllSaints has two really, really good coats on serious sale right now that are worth considering: this quilted liner jacket (originally $350, now $140 — I wore a similar style ALL FALL last year) and plaid stand collar topper.
+A lot of you are very into this trend.
+A great sweater for fall — versatile but interesting.
+These are the kind of layering knits I live in come winter.
+A classic black loafer for $15. Perfect for wearing with literally anything in your fall wardrobe.
+Absolutely LOVE these cute bee coasters! We have a lot of items with insects on them in our cupboard — bee glasses, dragonfly china, bee Laguiole steak knives. I need them!
+An absolute WORKHORSE for your closet. Timeless, ageless, versatile. Perfect outfit for a presentation at work!
+In love with the fit and color of this midi skirt.