At some point everyone says, “If I knew then what I know now…” I know we can’t go back. But what if we could?
I’ve been thinking about the summer when I was 15 recently. I had just finished 9th grade, my best friend was moving out of state, and at the time, it felt like the world was ending. I didn’t know how I was going to survive the rest of high school without the person who was like a sister to me, who loved me and understood me better than anyone outside of my actual family.
I was devastated.
Instead of spending the summer before 10th grade hanging out with friends, or going to movies, or even working…my days were spent alone. I’d wake up after my parents were already at work, put on a bathing suit, get a book, and spend the day sitting outside by the pool, reading. Getting lost in a good story would take my mind off of the start of the school year without my best friend by my side.
If only I could go back in time, I would love to give my 15-year-old self some sound advice. So listen up, 2003 me:
- Enjoy the Moment– You are young and life is good. Don’t rush things! There will be a time when you have work, responsibilities, bills to pay, and much less freedom to do the things you enjoy. You will see more of the world. You will meet new people. You will fall in love. But all in good time. Don’t wish you were “grown-up” just yet. I know it’s hard because you don’t feel like a child and yet you are not an adult. It’s never easy when you feel stuck somewhere in the middle. Be grateful for the little things, be present in each moment, love your life just the way it is.
- Treasure the Time Spent with your Family– They really aren’t that weird! Don’t be embarrassed by your parents. Remember that they love you unconditionally. They have worked hard and sacrificed so much for your happiness. Maybe slam the door a little less? And say thank you a little more? Don’t fight with your brother so much either. Things that are so hard for you come so naturally for him and it doesn’t seem fair but you are two completely different people. Believe me when I say someday, he will be a friend to you, not just an annoying little brother. Your days as a family of four are numbered (not because of death but the other D-word). You will all venture down different paths in the not so distant future, so enjoy the happy times together while they last.
- Friendships Need Nurturing- Don’t let the friendships you do have slip away! It takes time and effort to nurture a friendship. If someone wants to see a movie with you, go! If someone asks you over to their house, go! Don’t let your social anxiety get the best of you and your friendships. If you feel like talking to a friend, just call them! It’s so easy and really doesn’t take that much time. Don’t be afraid. You don’t have to be Miss Popularity…that’s not who you are…but it’s comforting to knowthat there is someone you can laugh or cry with, someone you can really count on to be there for you through thick or thin, or to just have fun with!
- Exercise– But not to lose weight! Go for more walks, ride your bike, or swim- just get out in nature and move a little bit more. It’s good for your mind, body, and soul. And it doesn’t hurt to get into the habit of being healthy from a young age. (Maybe starting early will make it a little easier for older you to get to the gym!)
- Love Yourself-This might be the hardest piece of advice for you to take in but it is by far the most important. You are beautiful, inside and out.You will grow out the bangs and the braces will come off (by the way, wear your retainer!) but really, no one even notices the little things that you think are your flaws. You are a good person, kind and patient, and you are smart. You can do anything you want with your life.So have some confidence in yourself. Be comfortable in your own skin. You are enough. Love who you are. Just the way you are. And know that you never, ever, ever have to change yourself for someone else.
I can’t go back in time. And even if I could have listened to my older self’s advice back in 2003, maybe I wouldn’t have made the mistakes that I have learned from. Maybe I wouldn’t have led the life that led to who I am today.
I survived being 15…
What advice would you give your younger self?