My sweet baby girl will be turning 16 in a few weeks. I’m not sure when it happened, but somehow, I blinked and when I opened my eyes this chubby-cheeked toddler was suddenly a beautiful young woman.
I desperately want to bestow words of wisdom on my daughter, allow her to benefit from the mistakes I have made along the way. But I know I would not have listened to anything anyone would have told me when I was 16. That said, I still can’t help but wonder what if I would have listened. What would I have told 16-year-old Sharon that could have saved us a bit of heartache, and maybe a few grey hairs? After thinking long and hard, I came up with this.
I would have told my much younger self that there is no such thing as a perfect body, perfect man, perfect job, or perfect life. Stop obsessing about what you are not or what isn’t. Instead, appreciate who you are now and what is! But most of all … choose to be happy.
I then began to wonder what others would have told their 16-year-old selves. I wasn’t sure if anyone would even be willing to play along, but I went ahead and posted the following question on two different local Facebook groups. “If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?”
To my surprise, within an hour there were more than 200 comments between the two groups, messages from both men and women of all different ages and different stages of their lives. There were so many interesting responses, too – some very personal. Several had a theme like the fact that parents ARE useful for something other than feeding you, and some with warnings to their younger selves to buy APPLE stock! Here are a few to give you an example of what people had to say:
- “Worry more about living your best life and less about your love life.” ~ Tracy M.
- “Don’t limit yourself by believing what other people say about you. You are much more than that!” ~ Raquel B.
- “Do what you think is right, and not what you think others expect of you.” ~ Frieda L.
- “Not everyone will like you; get over it and let these people fall to the wayside.” ~ Sophia R.
- “Not everything in life is as permanent as you may think.” ~ Stephanie S.
- “It’s ok to cry, don’t hold it in. Hurt people [will] hurt [other] people.” ~ Brock H.
- “Self-care is just as important as caring for those around you.” ~ Jessica S.
- “The things you think make you ‘weird’ or ‘nerdy’ now are what will make you an interesting and dynamic adult.” ~ Hannah L.
- “Your friends should lift you up, not bring you down!” ~ Julie K.
- “You are enough!” ~ Jennifer S.
I am not sure if any of our 16-year-old selves would have heeded this advice, just like I am not sure my daughter will listen to anything I tell her now. The reality is, we came to this wisdom because of the experiences we had. It is part of growing up, and no matter how badly we want to protect our kids from repeating what we now perceive as mistakes … we can’t. All we can really do is sit back and remind our kids when they do fall that we are here to offer them a hand to help them back up. But only after they reach that arm out to us.
Happy Sweet 16, Bella. I’m always within an arm’s reach!