When I was sixteen, I thought that I knew everything about everything! I had a plan for my life and thought the world was one way, when it was actually something completely different. I grew up quickly… after having made a lot of mistakes first. Those mistakes guided me towards learning a lot about myself, those around me, and society as a whole.
There were things that I learned that I had no understanding about beforehand and in no way was I prepared for any of it. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to be prepared though!
Here are nine pieces of advice that I wish someone would have given me the heads up about when I was younger:
1. Stop wasting time: It’s never too early to start doing what you love.
Obviously, I love to write. It’s why I’m here giving these words of wisdom to you right now. My downfall though was that I thought I couldn’t start doing anything until after college. So now, here I am as a post-grad having to play catchup because that ended up not being the case. If you love to do something, seek out the opportunity! Start small with the plan to go bigger in the future. I don’t care if you think that you have to wait because it’s not true! Do what you want now and stop wasting time. Why hold yourself back when you can be happy now?
2. Save money for unexpected expenses… because there will be unexpected expenses.
Even if you think you have your budget under control, you probably don’t. It took me getting a flat tire on the side of the highway to realize that a lot of things in life cost way too much money, but are unfortunately necessary to deal with. One tire, on the cheap end of the scale, can cost a couple hundred dollars. I would have been better off if I had an emergency expenses fund to pull out of. I didn’t then, but now I do. You never know what hardship life is going to throw at you, so be prepared. That way, your future self doesn’t have to scramble and worry.
3. There’s more than one type of smart, so don’t be so hard on yourself.
We live in a country that likes categorizing and thinks that there is only one way to be something. That, however, is an outdated way of thinking. Unreasonable standardized tests and jobs that require resumes to be filled with eighteen years of experience for an entry level position are killing the spirit of the young dreamers. There are different ways of thinking and understanding. Comprehending is a larger word than we give it credit for. If you try to be self-aware, learn everything you possibly can, and stay true to yourself, you will be successful! Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you have to be one certain way to be smart because that is in no way the truth.
4. There will be days where you feel like giving up. This will pass.
Sometimes it feels as though the world is pounding on your back and there is nothing that you can do about it. This time is depressing and can weigh heavily on you. Don’t let this last for too long. Take your time to deal with the feelings, but then move on and be proactive. If it doesn’t pass and you still feel like you are less than or you can’t accomplish anything, get a mental health checkup. Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of! The goal is for you to be the best that you can be, so don’t cut yourself short.
5. You’re not invincible and you get older every day. Listen to your body.
You can only live off of fast food and cheap beer for so long. Taking care of yourself, your body, and your health, will not only make you feel better, but you will also be better. You will feel more energized and ready to take on the world! You will be capable of doing physically more! When your body feels good, your mind will be able to produce more as well. People age and it’s impossible to try and stop it. What you have to do as you get older is take care of yourself and pay attention to what your body is telling you!
6. Don’t judge people for the worse thing they have ever done unless you want them to do the same towards you.
Everyone has a past. That’s something you have probably heard before. And yet, we judge people all the time so incredibly quickly based on one thing about them. We seldom realize the harm that this is causing! The last thing I want is for someone to assume something of me based on one thing in my past. Unfortunately, it happened to me and it changed everything for me. There’s a chance it can happen to you too. The best way to stop this is to stop contributing to the problem. Get to know someone before judging them and there’s a chance that person will pay it forward. This is a suggestion that will benefit both you and the greater good!
7. There are a lot of people out there: get out of your bubble and meet someone whose life is different from yours.
Staying in your comfort zone is easy. It’s easy to hang out with the same type of people. It’s easy to not experience new places or new things. This all might be easy, but it’s also a vicious circle! The world is full of crazy unique people and if you hide in the bubble that your parents had you grow up in, you won’t ever realize what’s out there. It might be scary to put yourself out there, but some of the greatest people you will ever meet might come from completely different backgrounds than you. How are you going to know any of them if you stay hidden away inside your bubble of a comfort zone?
8. Effort means more than results.
There is a kid who lives in one of the homes near me. He comes home every day from school, goes out on his balcony, and plays the recorder so badly that I think he caused a raccoon family to relocate to a new city, thank goodness. This kid tries so hard though! He practices all of the time. No, he’s not great at the recorder (which is saying something because recorders are annoying even when played well). But, this kid is showing something. He’s showing that he will try and put in all the effort necessary and then some. This is the type of kid who will find great success someday. You could be the smartest person in the world, but the person who puts in the work is going to be the one who shines brightest!
9. If you’re reading this, you’re more privileged than a huge chunk of the world. Do something about it.
This one is simple! It’s easy to think that you’re broke or you have too much to do or whatever else it might be. Even if that’s true, there is still someone out there who could use your help. Help them, not just because they need it and would appreciate it, but because helping is good for the soul. Be selfless because it will benefit all parties involved. Be selfless because you owe it to yourself to do so.
There are still a lot of things that I don’t know. I’m young, but I’ve learned a lot in my youth. Age is just a number, so hear me when I say that I know what I am talking about.
Be happy, healthy, and kind.
Take my advice and go out there to gain some of your own knowledge! Spread that knowledge and give advice to others too. We are only successful if we are trying our best and helping each other out along the way.