Dear 16-Year Old Me,
In the coming years your entire life is going to change in ways that you can’t even begin to understand right now. Here are some of the things you’re going to learn that I wish you could understand at this very moment.
- Stop worrying so much about what other people think of you, especially at school. In just a few short years you will never see or hear from most of these people ever again, at least not in any meaningful way. Thus their opinions are worthless anyway. Be YOU; if they don’t like it, so what? Being untrue to yourself to please or impress others rarely works out anyway, as you’ve already learned. And living with the guilt of betraying yourself is worse than being rejected by people who in the end will mean so little in your life.
- Stop trying to ignore all the questions & doubts in your head. In a few years you will realize that not having all the answers is part of what makes life interesting.
- On a similar token, stop listening to all the people who say they have all the answers in life. They are either lying or deluded. Or most likely both. And they are definitely trying to sell you something or control you in some way.
- Stop assuming you can’t be friends with people who think differently than you. Some of your best friends in life will end up being people who are quite different than you.
- Stop being afraid to take chances & try new things. I know you don’t believe it now but the greatest regrets you will have in life are the things you DIDN’T do.
- Stop assuming that everything in life is either black or white. In reality it’s all shades of grey. There are no moral absolutes in life, & guess what: that’s actually not that scary. It doesn’t mean you can’t have any morals or sense of decency. People only try to say everything is black & white because they can’t handle the complications of life & they’re trying to create some order out of the confusion. But in the end doing so just makes life more complicated.
- Stop trying to suppress your feelings all the time. Stop feeling guilty for being a human being & having so-called “negative” emotions such as anger, sadness, & lust. They’re all just part of being alive. The trick is learning to express such emotions in healthy ways. And that’s really not half as hard as people make it out to be.
- On a similar note, nothing in life is really as hard as everyone says it is. I’m not saying life is easy; it’s definitely not. But with the right attitude you can handle anything that comes your way. Don’t let the negative experiences of others color your own experiences.
- Stop obsessing quite so much about grades. It’s not that they aren’t important, but grades aren’t the only measure of intelligence. In fact they’re probably a pretty poor measure of intelligence in the long run. It’s fine to have a goal of getting straight A’s, but focus more on truly understanding the material & remembering it for longer than it takes to pass your latest exam.
- Life isn’t a competition. But karma is real. Many of the people who are having their “hey-day” right now will pay for it later. Someday you will reap the rewards of your good decisions just as some others will reap the rewards of their not so great decisions. Don’t let this make you spiteful; stay gracious. Just know that your life isn’t (or shouldn’t be) defined by high school. Things WILL get better. You will grow up & move away & experience a whole other world than the one you know right now. And it will be wonderful & it will be worth all of the hard times you’re experiencing right now. I know it’s difficult to imagine, but all the things that make you weird, boring, & uncool right now will someday in the not so distant future make you exciting, fun, & interesting. Trust me.
25-Year Old Me