On Twitter recently, people were posting tweets to their 16yr old selves -- nuggets of advice that could have helped, gems that would have made it easier. Some of this tied in to the "It Gets Better" project because, really, it does. And if it doesn't get better, it at least gets different and sometimes that's just as good. It started me thinking. What would have helped me at 16? What would I have taken in and embraced? What could have better shaped my teen experience or helped me grow better as a person?
Dear Me, at 16,
You feel invincible and strong, and you feel like you're finally "cool". You always were. Cool is relative. The kids who are top of the heap now will look a lot different when you're a grown-up. What makes a person cool at 16, is very not cool when you're 34. Those geeks and nerds? The "smart kids"? They're the cool ones, and you're one of them. Embrace it instead of running away from it and trying to hide it from those around you.
While we're at it -- slow down. If you're wondering if he only likes you for one reason, you're right. Cut him off, move on -- that slightly nerdy guy? The one who's a bit younger than you? Date him instead -- he'll treat you better, you'll have a better time in senior high, and you'll avoid a whole lot of heartbreak in the long run. Plus, he's pretty awesome. Better yet, date a lot of people -- when you get to university, you're going to spell someone's name wrong and fall in love. It will be awesome, I swear, and well worth the wait!
Don't be afraid to live big. Be yourself and let the chips fall where they will -- the people who love you for who you really are inside are the only people who matter in the long run.
Everyone around you is feeling the same insecurities you do. Just because they look confident doesn't mean that they are. You might look confident to other people, even when you're not. What you project to the world will affect how the world perceives you. This is one of those "life lessons" -- look confident, no matter what!
Be the age you are. Do 16 year old stuff, have fun, be silly, dye your hair blue -- someday you will be older and it's harder to get away with that sort of stuff in your 30's. Don't wish away your childhood, it's short enough.
Be your best at what you do. Don't get by doing the bare minimum -- you will learn more and be more proud of your accomplishments if you try hard and succeed big. You will feel better, too, if you try hard and fail. Knowing you've put your best effort forward makes a huge difference in how you feel about yourself -- not succeeding is nothing to be afraid of, not trying is worse.
Your best friend? Out of all the people you think are your friends, she's the one you'll still click with best when you're 34. She's a gem. Treasure that friendship, it's a special thing. Even when you fall out of touch, you'll pick right up where you left off -- you can't do that with just anybody. She's "good people".
My final advice is to love yourself. Nothing matters as much as how you see yourself. You're "good people", too, even if you don't think so. Put yourself first, go with your gut when you make choices, and be respectful of the people around you. Brains and popularity don't make a good person -- take the time to be kind. Be generous with yourself. Think less, do more. It will amaze you how much of a difference that can make in your life and in others'. It may just surprise you who shows kindness back.
Be happy. You're going to like the person you become.