Growing up teaches you a whole lot of things, and there are some essentials I would like to tell my 16 year old self, if only I could!
I’m six months away from my 36th birthday. I usually get introspective closer to the date, but this year the mood has set in much earlier. To gain some perspective on my life, I read through my diaries dated back to when I was 16. While I giggled through most of the entries, I also heard myself say, “Damn! I wish I knew better!”. There is so much I could and would do differently today. So if I had the chance, here are ten things I’d like my 16-year-old self to know.
Love yourself by acknowledging both: your strengths and your weaknesses. With time you’ll understand that it’s human to be flawed. Advertisements, movies, and society will tell you otherwise, but be strong enough to accept yourself as you are. Strive to be a better version of yourself, but love yourself warts and all.
Look after yourself by honouring your needs. Say NO to things that do not serve your purpose and goals. You’ll be labelled selfish, self-centered, etc. However, looking after yourself will make you a better person; you’ll love more and live well.
Approval-seeking behaviour is toxic; it stems from the need to be accepted and liked by everyone. However, no matter how much you try, there’ll always be someone who is disappointed with you. Consider everyone’s perspective, but do what feels right for you, not others.
Pick your friends wisely and invest your love in these relationships. Support and nourish each other with encouragement. Don’t feed the beast and be envious of your friends. Instead, team up to make your journey enjoyable and worthwhile.
Success is relative. For some, it may be a promotion at work, while others may consider a peaceful night’s sleep as success worthy. Therefore, trying to live up to other people’s standards is futile. Your success will be sweeter only if it makes you better, not bitter.
In your lifetime, you’ll meet people from different backgrounds with varied ideologies. Be that person who listens without prejudice and speaks with consideration. Empathise more and judge less; there’ll always be a story you don’t know. Being open-minded will enrich your life with invaluable ideas, perspectives, and experiences.
You’ve got a privileged life with little to complain. Extend this privilege to those who aren’t as fortunate as you. Offer them your compassion and skills, and hopefully, you will see that your purpose in life is much bigger than what you had imagined.
All your life experiences will contribute to your growth as a person. There is no need to choose one over the other; all aspects are equally important. The key is to prioritise and balance. Make time for your health, relationships, hobbies, or anything that energises and brings you alive. A well-rounded life will help you cope better with everyday challenges.
Life is fragile. Although death is certain, unfortunately, its timing isn’t. Therefore, show your affection and appreciation often. Don’t wait for birthdays, anniversaries, or special days to celebrate. Remember this quote by Brian Clough: “Don’t send me flowers when I’m dead. If you like me, send them while I’m alive.”
Know that happiness will not come from the things you own, or even your achievements, but in loving your life in its entirety. Don’t put your happiness on hold till you buy that expensive car or go on an exotic holiday. Dream big, but don’t hold your life to a ransom as you work on your goals.
Lastly, if none of the above makes sense, go to the beach, kick your heels in the sand, and raise a toast to the vast ocean and mighty sky. Laugh and take heart in the fact that the horizon is nothing but an illusion, and so is life! At least some quantum physicists say so.
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