Dear Sixteen-Year-Old Me
What I Wish I Knew Before I Reached My Twenties
Dear sixteen-year-old me,
I know you think you're just waiting for your life to begin, you keep saying to yourself that first you have to graduate high school, figure out a career path to follow, and somewhere along the way you're going to get married to your amazing boyfriend and live happily ever after.
You keep wishing that you could take a glimpse into the future and see how it all unfolds, well, here's your chance. I'm the twenty-five year old version of you and I'm going to tell you the biggest things you'll wish you knew.
- Someday is any minute now.
It all seems so far away from where you're standing, but as you're dreaming your days away you're failing to realize that everything you're going through at the moment is something you're probably going to miss not so long from now.
You're sixteen but soon you'll be eighteen and nineteen...
There's high school and just like that there's college or work. You're single, but chances are you won't be much longer.
- Trying to change yourself for someone is a waste of time.
You've held out for that special person for a while now, this whole time thinking you have high expectations.
Chances are that the moment someone unexpected starts paying attention to you romantically, you will compromise.
It starts becoming less about a meaningful relationship and more about the thrill, the blinding infatuation, and the hormones.
Don't go there.
No matter how much time you spend trying to convince all the wrong people you're worth loving, the person will come along that needs no convincing, the one you don't need to change for.
- Bad things happen when least expected.
It's pointless to think that you can avoid tragedy. It can come in the form of the loss of someone you love, or getting fired from a very important job, or your dreams to be so-and-so coming to an end. It might be that you find out you're having a miscarriage or your spouse has been unfaithful, etc. It happens sometimes and it's awful.
You will have days when you question your existence or when you feel you have nowhere to turn.
Just remember that everyone else does not have it all together, and no matter how bleak things look right now, they will get better.
Don't spend your time worrying about the turns life throws at you, instead mentally prepare yourself to face bad circumstances as best you can.
- You're not who you think.
Right now there's a clear line between good and bad in your mind. You know for a fact that you will never be a person who___, and you will always be____ (fill in the blank). Prepare to surprise yourself. Some of those surprises will be good. You may realize that you're stronger than you thought you were, braver, wiser. But somewhere along the way you will also realize the evil you are capable of. Yes, evil.
Don't follow your heart, it is deceitful.
Don't think yourself too good to ever be caught up in a certain situation. Instead, make goals for yourself and strive to be the kind of person who chooses to do the right thing when it matters most.
- Best friends grow apart, but that's okay.
Right now you're probably surrounded by a group of people you know for a fact you wouldn't be able to do without. That's wonderful and very necessary for this time in your life, but believe it or not, friendships change over time.
That friend you grew up with may very well make it to being the maid of honor or best man at your wedding, but they might also move away or become romantically involved with someone who takes up all of their time. You might get married and have children while your BFF is off traveling the world, but life is all about change.
You'll miss each other, but don't worry. When it matters most you will come together again and you'll also make new friends along the way.
Always be supportive of their dreams, when you see each other again your reunion will be that much sweeter.
- The decisions you make right now do matter.
Whether you decide not to graduate, or to take a semester off college, or to continue in your toxic relationship, it all matters. If you do the wrong thing or neglect to do what's right, the day will come when you wish you'd made a better decision.
Whatever you do makes a difference.
That also goes for the way you treat people. You may think that being unkind to someone right now won't matter later, but you never know when you will see them again. People are watching you and they remember. Always be kind.
- The time will come when you need guidance.
Don't think that because you can believe something with all your heart, it makes it right. Seek guidance from people that have walked on ahead of you. Whether it be a school counselor, the mom of your friend, your parents, or someone at church, don't ever hesitate to seek out someone who you can confide in and who will be there when life gets a little too out of hand. There will always be someone willing to take you under their wing, just give them a chance.
- Be open-minded, not empty-headed.
I heard it said once that the only reason to be open-minded is to find out what to close your mind on.
If you're mind is always open, your brain may eventually fall out.
You may hold to someone else's idea of what life means but soon enough you will find something you disagree about. That's okay. You don't have to go with the flow all the time, in fact, don't. The best thing you can do for yourself is to find out not only what you believe, but why you believe in it. Later on you might find you've changed your mind again, that's okay as long as you always know why. Don't believe something just because you're told to, I'm sorry to say: Peer pressure does not end with high school.
- You will never feel like you've arrived.
Right now you're thinking to yourself that if only you had ___, or if only you could _____, you would be happy. Life doesn't work that way. When you get married you're still going to struggle with insecurity, when you have your dream job there's still going to be someone over you or something to strive after. The best thing you can do for yourself is to find something worth living for. Some people choose careers or family, some choose self, but the best way to find purpose is to live for something greater.
Don't try to fill your heart, life, or time with temporary or fleeting things.
Life can end at any moment, enjoy the time you have here and when you don't know which direction to go, don't forget to look up. I promise, it's worth it.