I’m middle aged.
I admit it. Yes, I’m in my mid 40s and proud of it. In a culture that values youth and inexperience, I’m doing just fine. I still have a generous bucket list, but I’ve accomplished some of my goals and I’m proud of that. So when someone asks me what I would change if I could go back in time, I’m not sure how to answer. Every second of my life has impacted me in some way. Every trip I’ve taken, every break up I’ve experienced and even the job losses. As cliche as it sounds, its true about those doors closing and others opening to something new.
However, I do wonder what I would tell my teenage self if I could give her advice. We all wish we could guide the younger versions of ourselves in the right direction. There are many thoughts I would impart on the 16 year old me.
1. You are worth it. You will have friends, boyfriends, teachers, managers, coworkers and acquaintances who will try to tell you that you aren’t worth anything, that you’re not smart enough and you can’t do it. You can. You must remember your worth. Some days will be better than others, but never lose sight that you matter.
2. Save your money. That advice about saving an emergency fund you never touch? Its good advice. Start now. Put $10 a paycheck away and never touch it. Whether its your allowance or your part time job. Save some of that money. Learn how to save money through IRAs and Roth IRAs. Be knowledgable about finances.
3. Learn to eat well. In this day and age of packaged and fast food, get your mom to teach you to cook some healthy meals. You will need it when you move into your apartment in college and for the rest of your life. Don’t eat junk all the time and get used to natural and fresh food. And acquire the taste of sushi rolls now.
4. Be strong. Develop physical strength, but be sure to develop your emotional strength, too. The well being of your mind is just as important as the your muscles. Fend off depression, anxiety and work on feeling your best. Know that you are not alone in your endeavors and if you need help, ask for it. No longer is mental health considered a non issue. Its very important to how you make decisions and how you relate to others. Take care of your mind along with your body.
5. Be kind to yourself. Learn to love yourself without arrogance. There will be times you will have self doubt and that’s natural–don’t let it overwhelm you. Always remember to be nice to yourself and allow others to be kind to you as well. Don’t be afraid to have confidence in your abilities and in who you are.
6. Get out. Its easy to stay home and watch tv, but get yourself off the couch and out there. There will be so much to learn and see. Take it all in outside of television and novels. Live life and experience it.
7. Love your body. Its the the only one you have. Take care of it and don’t be so hard on yourself. Everyone has flaws. No body is perfect and you will never be perfect, either. Do the best you can and embrace that you can walk, run, exercise, swim, lift weights, and dance. You might not fit society’s standard of perfection, but that’s okay. No one really does. Its impossible. Don’t worry about size and numbers. You are beautiful at any weight.
8. Be nice to everyone. This will be hard because not everyone will be nice to you. You will unknowingly be sabotaged by coworkers, cast aside by boyfriends for no reason, and you will feel betrayed by friends you thought were loyal. That is life. It happens. Just remain the loyal, caring and kind person you are and you will be the better person for it. Remember everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about and its okay if you have a lot of acquaintances and a few close friends.
9. Travel. If you have the chance to travel, do it. See your own country and explore other countries. Only then will you appreciate where you come from and how you grew up.
10. Fall in love. This will be elusive and sometimes painful, but it will eventually be rewarding. It could be early in life or later in life, but don’t be afraid of it. You’re worth it and you deserve to be loved right back. Just make sure he is good enough for you and deserves YOU.