Author Note: I apologize for my lack of posts in the last month or so! Between studying for finals, trekking all across town on interviews and traveling overseas for the best 10 days of my life, there hasn’t been a lot of time for writing. I hope to change that in the new year to come!
Once upon a time, we were all sixteen and crazy. As high school sophomores and juniors, we worried about all the wrong things and made the wrong decisions, all in the hopes that our lives would turn out to be just another glamorous episode of some teen soap opera on the CW. Of course, our lives were not nearly as dramatic and romantic as we hoped, but we didn’t learn that until well after we graduated.
If I could go back and talk to my 16-year-old self, I would definitely have a few suggestions for how to be less of an angst-ridden cliche and how to be more awesome.
The Friday Five: Lessons For My 16-Year-Old Self
1. You will forget “the one that got away.”
You know that guy you’ve been crushing on since last summer, the one who didn’t end up asking you to junior prom despite the fact that you’re clearly perfect for each other? Well, in five years, he’ll be no more than a story you tell your college friends about the days when you liked guys with skinny jeans and awkward haircuts. Sure, the two of you might still keep in touch on Facebook, but only so you can laugh at the ridiculous statuses he posts and remind yourself of how you really dodged a bullet all those years ago. You’ll forget the sadness you felt when things didn’t work out, and the void he left will be filled by plenty of new relationships in the years to come.
2. Don’t let relationships become your only focus.
Once you really enter the dating world, you will find that at times you’ll want to be in a relationship, but at other times you’ll want to be single, and that’s okay. You’re young, and you still have plenty of time before people in your family will start guilting you into “settling down,” so when you *are* single, take that time to focus on yourself. In fact, by the time you turn twenty, you will probably have sworn off dating at least once in favor of “focusing on your career” or undergoing some form of makeover. Being with someone can be great when the timing is right, but there is much more to life and growing up than checking off “In a Relationship” on Facebook.
3. In five years, you will laugh at whatever you wore in those photos.
No matter how cool you thought you looked, any fashions or trendy hairstyles you try to replicate will look ridiculous when you flip through old pictures in the years to come. So smile big, have a sense of humor and remind yourself that one day your kids will think you’re just as lame as you think your parents are now.
4. Few of your friends will stick by you past graduation, and that’s okay.
Enjoy the moments you have together, but realize that in a few years you will probably hang out with an entirely new crowd, save for your best friend from high school and a few people who went to your university. The high school drama will end with high school, and you’ll have another four years to form new relationships with people you have much more in common with.
5. You don’t need to know what you want to be when you grow up.
It doesn’t matter that at sixteen, you have no idea what you want to study in college or whether or not you’ll go to grad school. In five years, after a lot of soul searching, college coursework and trips to your adviser, you might still not know what you want to do with your life, but chances are you will be a lot closer to realizing what you want to do and what will make you happy. In the meantime, learn how to learn, and open your mind to new experiences and interests. Take up some hobbies, read books in your spare time and recognize that what you might want now could easily change when you’re older.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self?