07 Pieces of Advice for my Teenage Self
Today I thought we could chat about things that we wish we had known or done in the past, or in the lack of a better word, “Regret”. Specifically, for me, I’ll be referring to my teen years. Now, these are not things that I actually go around regretting or thinking about and wishing life was different, but simply, if I could’ve met 15 or 16 or even 21-year-old me, these are some of the things I would’ve told her, and I’ll split it into different categories just to make it easier to follow along.
1. Don’t have Limiting Beliefs about Yourself.
I’ve always dreamt big, but it was only as I got older that I had the epiphany that dreams don’t actually need to be just dreams. And so, prior to that “anything is possible” attitude that I have now, I made a lot of pretty important decisions based on those limiting beliefs. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have let that prevent me from pursuing the things I wanted to pursue.
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” -Thomas Jefferson”
I personally think that of the things, if not the main thing, that prevents us from fulfilling our potential, is our own self-limiting beliefs. Now those self-limiting beliefs may have been the result of something else, like, it might’ve been inflicted on us by peers or parents who don’t take us seriously or who are close-minded.
But still, when we limit ourselves by believing things like “I can’t because”, “I’m powerless, or I’m not (fill in the blank) enough”, we start to behave in accordance with those self-limiting beliefs; it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, yeah, I would’ve recognized that I didn’t quite believe in myself, I would’ve addressed it, tried to figure out where it came from and asked myself if those limits were actually real and valid.
2. Educate Yourself More and More.
I’m happy I went to university, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about self-education; about general education. Reading more books and articles and actually reflecting on what I read. But also, speaking of school.
I do wish that my attitude had been different. Instead of viewing school as just another stepping stone in life, as this mandatory thing that I need to get through and be good at in order to get from point a to point b, I wish I would’ve realized that a lot of what was taught was actually very interesting and useful. I like this quote by John Dewey that goes “Education is not preparation for life, it is life itself”.
3. Seek Out Mentors (Other than your Parents).
I don’t exactly know how or who that would’ve been, but in hindsight, I do think that having people who help guide, encourage and support you can be incredibly valuable. And I think in perhaps being more open with teachers and other adults around, I could’ve found that. Even just something like talking to the school therapist more, or if I went to a friend’s house and their mom made a delicious meal, ask for the recipe for the sauce.
Just being more unafraid to ask questions and to let that inner curiosity bloom. You never know what you may learn, and some of what you learn may stick with you till much later in life which is really cool.
4. Pick your Friends More Carefully.
I think especially when we’re in our school years, many of our “friends” are friends out of convenience; we may take the same classes or play the same sports. But just because it’s convenient to be friends with someone, it doesn’t mean you should be friends with them.
If someone treats you poorly or makes you feel bad about yourself or simply isn’t the type of person you’d like to associate with, the both of you are probably better off not being friends, even if that may cause some “inconvenience” either in the friend group or for you personally, like for instance, you may fear ending up alone, which obviously isn’t a good thing either. But there are always other people you can befriend. And also, just to clarify, you can be friends with people without actually having to be friends with them.
5. Be your Authentic Self to Attract the Right People.
I think one common reason why we sometimes attract the “wrong” people into our lives is that we’re not being our authentic selves, which sounds so cliché, but it does make a lot of sense. If we have a facade, we’ll be attracting people who are drawn to that facade, when in reality, that’s not even who we are.
For instance, if you pretend to be someone who likes to party and drink and hang out late, then you’ll attract people who also like doing those things, when in reality, you may be someone who’s actually much more interested in joining a book club and talking about horses or something.
But those people, the people who do actually like books and horses will not be drawn to you or even notice you, because to them, you’re the party person, even though you’re really not. So the irony is that the more you care about fitting in, the less you’ll fit in. At least that’s been my experience.
6. Be Kinder.
Now, I think I was a good kid, but of course, there were times when I’d be rude or have an attitude like many other teens and just humans in general. This sounds really weird but when you’re in those awkward years of your life, you don’t really see your teachers as “people”. Actually, you don’t see most people as people, you see them as what they do. Do you know? Mom is mom, that’s what she is.
The math teacher is a math teacher. (Like we all know how weird it feels to see a teacher outside of school when you’re a kid, it’s like, you almost think they spend the night there or something.) But so, we don’t exactly realize that they’re actually full-blown people with things going on outside of the label that you know them by. Mom isn’t this superhuman person who has everything figured out. She’s got a million other things going on besides being your mom.
So, if I could share a word of encouragement to my younger self and to anyone who may need to hear it, it would be to be considerate and kind to people, whether that’s a teacher or a parent, or a fellow student. And also, if someone is being rude or mean, don’t laugh along, don’t encourage that behavior. It’s not funny or cool. Mean is never cool.
As you may know, I’ve been journaling for many, many years,. 17+ years, but there have definitely been some gaps during that time, and I wish there hadn’t been. There are so many benefits of journaling, even if you only write one or two sentences a day. I can’t stress it enough. Now if you would like to share, what are some things you’d tell your younger self?