Now, I have to admit, when I was a high school senior, I thought I was on top of the world. Straight A’s, freshmen minions to do my bidding, the best friends anyone could ask for, managing life between schoolwork and school events; high school had dictated my life through four crucial years of adolescence. And I thought I was rocking it. But the funny thing about highschoolers is, they’re strangely disagreeable to the idea that perhaps they don’t know everything about life. And little did I know it then, but even I didn’t know everything there was to know about life. Four years later, I still have no idea what the hell I’m doing. (But at least I can acknowledge that now, ha!) Nonetheless, there’s still some wisdom I’ve obtained, wisdom that could be duly imparted onto my past high school self. Sixteen-year-old-me, if there is any sort of warp in the time space continuum, this is my advice to you…
1. Is it just me, or can the life of practically every 16-year-old girl be described in one hyphenated word? Self-centered. Completely, utterly self-centered. Not that I’m condoning the behavior of every adolescent female (and male, for that matter–pull your pants up, please!); from a psychological perspective, it almost makes sense. Humans, after all, are instinctively social, attention-seeking creatures. It also explains why any other adolescent-populated social event becomes an attention-fueled Battle Royale. (Honestly, is Homecoming Queen something you’ll really be able to put on your résumé?) But I digress.
During this point in our life, sometimes insignificant things can take precedence over relationships, and sometimes relationships get taken for granted. Of course, your family will always be there (out of obligation), but your friends won’t. And you will regret losing wonderful friends because you took them for granted. On that note, don’t take your relationships with family for granted, either. You might think you know everything (you don’t), and that no other opinion matters (they do). Your parents love you, even in this demonic stage of your life. They’ve also got at least 20 years of experience on you, and some things just can’t be learned out of books, or IB courses. Respect that. Love them. You’re going to regret wasting those years of unnecessary conflict when they’re not there anymore. Life is too short.
2. Forget your insecurities. You are a BEAUTIFUL, intelligent, engaging young woman. Who cares about what other people say? They don’t know you, and you’re not living your life to satisfy them. Besides, it’s true when people say we are our own worst critics. That tiny speck on your nose you call a zit is not something most other people are going to notice, and if they do happen to notice, it’s still not something they are going to hold against you. It’s just a zit. Everyone your age has them. So project yourself with confidence, because true beauty lies within. Let her out and let her shine.
3. Start opening up to people! Not everyone will hate you if you “disrupt their personal space” just by talking to them. In fact, they’ll probably warm up to the conversational, extroverted young woman more than the shy, isolated, antisocial one. You’re fun, you’re endearing, you’re quirky and unique. You don’t need to hide that. There is just as much to be learned from the social sphere as in academia, and trust me, you’ll enjoy life more if you put yourself out there. It’s intimidating, but the next time you’re eyeing that potential-girlfriend-candidate at the next table and wondering if she secretly hates you, remember that you’re probably not the only one mustering up the courage to be social.
4. Stand up for yourself. There will come a time when you’re going to have to choose between pleasing others and pleasing yourself. And as much as you don’t want to hurt anyone, you HAVE to live your life for yourself. These are your golden years, and life’s too short to be a pushover. If you want to be a writer, then by all means, BE a writer. Don’t pursue that biochemistry major, even though you hate math and chemistry, just because everyone else says a B.S. is better for your life than a B.A. First of all, it isn’t true. Secondly, it’ll save you a lot of grief in the near future if you choose to do what YOU want to do, and not what others expect of you.
5. Love isn’t the only thing that matters. You’re going to meet a wonderful man soon, and you’re going to think he is the pillar of your existence, that everything revolves around him, and that everyone else is irrelevant. The first love is a wonderful feeling, but don’t forsake your other relationships just to cling to that one. More importantly, when love wanes, either learn to communicate through the problems, or let it go. And remember: just because one relationship fails doesn’t mean you’re doomed the eternally single state. Perhaps you weren’t ready, or perhaps you weren’t compatible. Don’t take a breakup to heart. Instead, take advantage of the time for you to grow as an individual. Find out who you are without relying on someone else. Be strong. Be true to yourself. Cherish the memories. But be willing to move on.
You have a beautiful life to live, so take advantage, get out there, and live it! Yes, there will be ups and downs, and at times it will be difficult. But that’s okay. Find the strength to be weak. No one will think less of you if you need to lean on someone else. That’s what friends and family are there for, and they love you. Living life for yourself doesn’t mean cutting everyone else out. Just take it one day at a time, and enjoy every moment.
Remember, happiness comes from the little things in life.