Advice to my 16 year old self
Updated: Nov 25, 2021
A few weeks in to the new year and new decade, and I'm finally feeling like I'm getting back in to the swing of things and back to my normal routine (still writing the wrong date though - give me a few more months for that!). At the start of each year, one of the things I like to do is sit down and try to set some goals and intentions for the year ahead for both my work and personal life. It's nothing too crazy, more just some things that give me a sense of purpose and excitement for the next 12 months, so there's no pressure or guilt if some things don't happen. I also looked at what I had written for 2019, and I realised that this time last year I was in a very different place to where I am right now. I'd just been hospitalised for what I now know to be the start of an incredibly long and tough health journey that culminated in my chronic illness diagnosis, and the change of my life as I knew it (I've written a blog post about it here).
It also made me realise how much can happen, how much life and even yourself can be different in just a year, let alone 10 years! It's been a long time since I actually sat back and reflected on not just what I've accomplished, but also how much I've changed. 10 years ago I was about to turn 17 and start my final year of high school. I was at an extremely uncomfortable point in my life where I'd probably outgrown school and was ready to get out into the real world, but I really didn't know who I was and was so unsure of myself. At the same time, I thought I knew everything like most teenagers do at that age. Since then, a decade has passed and I'm almost 27. In that time it's been a rollercoaster of a ride (cliche but true). I graduated school feeling lost and uncertain of myself, I deferred from university for a year after school, got my heart broken, partied way too hard, spent 5 years studying two degrees at uni, met my other half, studied for another year to become an admitted lawyer, got my first real full time job as a lawyer, moved from where I'd grown up to a rural town for my boyfriend's work, started a new job in a totally new area of law, had numerous health battles and ultimately been diagnosed with a chronic illness, and so many other challenges, events and decisions in between that all have played a huge part in who I am now.
Looking back on it all, I like to think that I've learnt a few things and gained some perspective. I've seen a few people writing about their top lessons they've learned from the decade, and even a letter to their younger self, so after some thinking about my own lessons I thought what I would do if I could sit down with that girl who I was 10 years ago. So I sat down and just started typing, and I would tell her this:
Stress less. Have more self-confidence. Follow your heart and not anyone else's expectations of you. Have fun! Stop caring and worrying about what other people think of you. Don't let other people dim your light. No one else knows what they're really doing either. Life is too short to not be who you want to be. Value the opinion of those who really love you but don't let judgement hold you back. Don't let any boys dictate your life. Spend as much time with your family as you can. Hold on to good friends. Forget about the ones that come and go. Don't hold on to things that no longer serve you. Know your self worth. Don't let any boy treat you badly or mess you around. Have confidence in yourself knowing you are okay on your own. Keep trying to be independent. Learn to relax and manage your anxiety and self doubts. Stop trying to be someone you're not or fit in with people who you think are cool. Stop chasing things that will come with time and just be present. Throw yourself into your passions. Focus on study when you start it and show up for yourself. Still keep having fun. Start exercising more and taking care of yourself. Eat well, get enough sleep and lift some weights. Stop thinking you need alcohol to be fun enough to be around. Hold your self-worth a little closer to your chest. Travel more and see the world - your hometown will always be there. Step out of your comfort zone more. Keep reading books and writing because you love it. Keep being a child at heart and don't be in a rush to be what you think you need to be. Know that the people around you who love you are all that truly matter at the end of the day. Be comfortable being who you are because you are amazing and will grow into so much more than you know. Lean on those around you when you need the support. Embrace your differences, because that will make you the happiest. You have no idea what's in store for you. Some challenges you will face will break your heart in more ways than one and test you beyond anything you've ever thought possible but you will be okay and will be an even better person for it. Enjoy every moment of every day, even the stuff that makes you mad or you don't like because it's all part of the amazing gift of being alive. Remember it's okay to slow down. You'll be in the future before you know it. And you still wouldn't change a thing, because everything that will happen to you, every choice that you make, will shape you in to who you will become. And I think that you'll be pretty happy with who that is.