I have been on this Earth for only 21 years but throughout those years, I think I’ve learned lessons that I hate seeing my younger friends make, but alas, this is how we learn. However, don’t we all wish we could go back and undo some of the mistakes we’ve made? Don’t we all wonder if we just hadn’t done that one thing, how differently the outcome could have been? I know I do. I don’t particularly enjoy sitting in regret, and I wouldn’t necessarily say I regret anything, but there are particular lessons that I am learning now that could have been avoided. With that being said, how selfish would it be to sit on this pile of knowledge and not share it with someone out there who may be looking for some guidance? If that’s you, then you’ve come to the right blog.
If I could go back in time, here are the things I’d tell myself.
Your friends are not always your friends.
Growing up in a small town meant that the people I called my friends were the same group of kids until the day we graduated. The very next day, something happened. That was the last time I saw some of the people I came to consider my very close friends. The time after high school is revealing to say the least. Sometimes we learn that we were friends with the same people for so long because we were stuck seeing them every day. Being forced to find ourselves, we realized the only things we had in common were homeroom and AP Calculus. And to be honest with you, that’s okay. Memories were made and for that I am grateful. Things fall apart to make room for other things. We all went our separate ways as life took its course.
When I say that your friends are not always your friends, I mean that just because you see them every day does not mean they have your best interests at heart. Sometimes your friends can also be a poor influence on you, forcing you to conform and keeping you from learning who YOU are. The relationship you have with yourself is precious. Never compromise it to fit in. Also, don’t make major decisions based on friendship. You have to follow your own heart! I know it is scary to think that someone you love could very well forget who you are in ten years but that’s the harsh reality. Life will take its course and you have to realize who YOU are outside of a circle of other people.
Relationships are great but you will hate yourself if you allow a relationship to hold you back, change you, distract you, or force you to compromise. Until there is a ring on that finger (and please wait until you’re done with college for there to be a ring!) then you do NOT owe anyone, anything – especially not a compromise on your goals and dreams. He may or may not be the one, that’s never certain. You know what is? YOUR EDUCATION.
This is something I cannot stress enough. Hey – we’ve all been there. One cute guy and suddenly our world flips upside down. It is the curse of being a hormonal 16 year old. Luckily, no relationship ever got in between my education, however, I’d be lying if I said it did not keep me from wanting more for myself. The fact is that relationships are distracting whether you’re 16 or 30. They take time and effort, but at 16 years old, time is fleeting and VERY IMPORTANT not to waste. Homework is stressful! College applications are LONG. Figuring out who you are? That’s some difficult stuff! How do you expect to find yourself with your identity attached to someone else? Trust me when I say that the boys are not worth it. A guy can be many things: amazing, charming, incredible…etc. But I don’t care what he is because NO ONE is going to be as important as your education. Put yourself and your education first, ALWAYS! You’ll thank me later because there’s a 99% chance he will wake up one day and not find you so cute anymore but you know what’s cute? A degree. ‘Nuff said. There’s a time and place for that, but it isn’t when the most captivating novel you’ve read is probably just Gatsby. Girrrrrl. There’s a whole world out there!
You’re not fat.
At 16, I was not fat, but I thought I was. I still get insecure now and then. Look. Weight shifts up and down all the time. If we spend so much time stressing over it, it just becomes annoying for the people around us who love us as we are. Spend less time worrying about your looks. Take care of your skin, drink water, eat healthy, and be okay with treating yourself!
Be patient. Your time will come!
Everyone is in such a rush because a lot of us want to get to the “perfect” life stage with the job, kids, and loving spouse. But life does not follow a linear narrative or perfect path. You will see your old friends doing great things, or maybe you’ll be the one doing great things. Every big event in someone else’s life will make you feel like you’re doing something wrong if you’ve not reached that particular milestone yet. You might never land the dream job you thought you wanted but land the job you NEEDED to switch career paths. Life happens when we’re busy making plans. So relax! Enjoy the time you have to make mistakes, change your mind, and discover new things.
So, there you have it!
Being young and innocent is wonderful. Every new experience is a new lesson to learn. New knowledge to apply to our lives. I don’t think I’d go back and change the mistakes I’ve made but it would’ve been nice to have been told these things growing up. So, if you’re out there and you’re reading this, I hope you’ll make the choices that are right for you. Either way, we live and we learn!