Despite what most teachers and students are telling you in school, the high school years will not be be the best years of your life. Not even close. But what I will tell you is that they will be some of the most influential years of your life. There will be times when your feelings will be hurt by those whom you thought were your friends, you will learn about the fickleness of others, you will be disappointed, but you will also have lots of laughs and fun times. But in no way will the four years of high school be the best years of your life.
You are LUCKY. You have parents who love you and believe in you and whether you know it or not, they support you in everything you do. And listening to your parents more than your peers is going to be one of the greatest choices you’ll ever make.
You’ll have opportunities to write for the school newspaper (which will be another lesson in your life regarding irresponsible adults who never grow up, but also fostering a love for writing which could develop into your career path), sing in the choir (and even though you don’t make it into the more elite choir, you still tried and learned not to be afraid of failure, and also had a chance to develop a skill that you still love today), play softball on the freshman team (and encounter a coach who taught you how NOT to act towards others, but an experience that also taught you that quitting is never an option), and so much more. Truthfully, you have to go through a lot of struggles and I am so proud at how strong you will be throughout them.
But most importantly, YOU ARE NOT UGLY. You will spend hours in front of the mirror looking at your perceived flaws. You will spend hours on the phone engaging with an egotistical friend who likes to pretend she thinks she’s ugly but just wants to remind herself that she thinks she’s prettier than you. You will cry when you try on clothes at a plus size boutique that are too expensive for your parents to buy, and still don’t make you look like the other girls at school. You will be wasting far too much time on wishing you were something that you are not. But that’s ok, because it will teach you about compassion. It will teach you to find beauty in everyone. It’ll be hard, but the results will be worth it.
And boys. You do not know any boy in your life at this time that is worthy of you. Plain and simple. Do not fall for the boys that will only make fun of you. Pay attention to how they treat other people. Don’t waste your time thinking about them. They’re not worth it. Someday you’ll understand this when you find your future husband. He will be the best thing that ever happened to you and you will look back on those boys and laugh at yourself for being so stupid when you were 16. He’s handsome, so kind, a gentleman, he believes in you, and he’ll teach you to believe in yourself. Your life will change in ways you never thought possible.
Someday you will have some regrets. I wish you would spend more time with your sister, getting to know her better. Someday you will be friends though, but there’s a lot of lost time there. You don’t need to be so shy. People are not looking at you with disdain, you’re projecting your feelings on others. Give other people a chance to get to know you. Open up a little.
Enjoy the time spent with your Mom. She really is your best friend at 16. You are lucky to have her in your life. She teaches you to keep a smile on your face. To be kind. To find the humor in everything. You will laugh at how much you become more like her the older that you get.
Your Dad is a dreamer. He taught you to dream. Don’t lose sight of your dreams—keep chasing them. Never give up. Work hard. He taught you to do the job right the first time or you’ll have to do it over again. So clean your room right the first time!
Spend more time with your siblings and their spouses. Some day you’ll be scattered so far apart and you’ll wish you could see them more often.
And don’t forget Buddy. Even 10 years later you will look back on the memories with the family dog and you’ll cry. You’ll miss him. You’ll remember the time when you were 16 and after a hard day, you laid down on the couch and cried and he licked your tears away. He taught you about unconditional love. Take him for more walks. It’d be good for you and him. He won’t be around much longer.
Life might seem hard at 16, and honestly, you will go through some pretty hard times. But you are stronger than you know. Believe in yourself. Learn to love yourself a little more. You are WORTH it. The best is yet ahead. I’m proud of you.
Your 26 Year Old Self
This post is part of a series of posts that will run through the month of April as part of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge.
What would you say to your 16 year old self?