I’m sitting here trying to think of things I’d tell my 16-year-old self, and I realize there’s so much she needs to know! She was so shy, so self conscious, and she didn’t have much love for herself. While this is a tough topic, I thought it may be helpful not only to me, but to some of you who perhaps had the same feelings I did as a 16-year-old. We’re all different, yet we’re all the same, aren’t we? Once you’ve read my list of things I’d tell my 16-year-old self, I hope maybe it will have helped you see things differently if you’re around 16. If you’re older, try writing your own list of things you’d tell yourself at 16.
1. Never, Ever Hold on to Something Someone Says about You
This is one of the most important things I’d tell my 16-year-old self. I did this and it was a huge mistake. I let someone’s comment about me ruin my self esteem and it took until my forties to overcome it. I’m not kidding. I should have known the kid was a jerk trying to make himself feel better. He went on with his life and never thought about it again. I held onto it and believed it, and hurt for way too long.
2. Having One Best Friend is so Much Better than a Group of so-so Friends
I learned this quickly after I met my best friend in 9th grade. I wasn’t quite 16 yet, but I’d always thought the more friends the better. It’s not true. After 30 years, we are still friends. I can call her and it’s like no time has passed. Don’t worry about how many friends you have or who they are. Find that one friend who sticks by you through everything, who tolerates you no matter what mood you’re in, and who you can treat the same way!
3. There Was Never Anything Wrong with Being a Good Girl
I thought because I was a good girl that no one really thought I’d be any fun. Of course, that wasn’t true, but I still felt maybe everyone thought I was boring. I never got into trouble, was never grounded, and honestly there was never anything I wanted to do that would be worth all that. Turns out, being a good girl is a good thing! I think it’s okay to leave people wondering about you. Wait until that first high school reunion, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
4. A Boy Will Not Complete You or Make Your Life Any Better
I didn’t have a boyfriend at 16 and it bothered me so much. My crushes were just heartbreaking, and no boy ever knew how much I liked him. I was too shy and felt like they were out of my league. This is another thing you’ll learn at your first high school reunion. They weren't out of my league! Those guys I thought were the greatest would have broken my heart, and then I’d still have homework to do. Who needs that? Sure it’s nice to date and that’s okay, but a boyfriend? They’re hard enough to deal with at 30. One more thing: they lose their hair a lot quicker than you think!
5. Try Harder to Get along with Your Mom
You mom will be that unexpected best friend later in life. She will also be there for you no matter what. And I really mean no matter what!
6. You Did Your Best, Which Wasn’t Bad, but You Should Have Tried Harder
I was in the top 150 of a class of 535 students. I should have been in the top 50. I was capable and should have tried harder than I did. I thought my art would get me through. I was going to art school, not some 4-year college to do English and math all over again. Nope, I should have tried harder and gone to that 4-year college. Unfortunately, art school was not an easy out or a quick career.
7. Love Yourself with All Your Heart
This is hard for a lot of us women, no matter what age we are, but I should have loved myself with everything I had. You are the only one who can make yourself happy in this world; no man, no job, not a house or car, can make you happy. You deserve to love yourself and you deserve to be truly happy and this is completely up to you.
As I think about this list, I realize it’s really not too late to take some of this advice right now. I think women go through periods where we love ourselves and then we don’t. How about we make each other a promise? Let’s always love ourselves at 16, at 24, at 35, and at 49. That’s the only way we’ll ever be happy with ourselves and our lives. Pinky swear!