The challenge of focusing on different perspectives is a difficult one – I don’t possess a creative fictional brain and spent a lot of time attempting to imagine various situations from the perspective of contrasting people, to no avail.
However, the sad news that I have received this week has prompted me to reflect on life a little, and I found myself thinking about the me of 16 years ago. This me was a very different person to the me that I know now, and there are lots of things I want to say to that 16 year old, with her frizzy blonde hair, her insecurities and her weaknesses. I thought I knew everything. I had a plan – where I was going to go, what I was going to do and how I was going to do it – and if my 32 year old self could travel back in time I would give the 16 year old me a good slap and a lesson in naivety. However, hindsight is a wonderful thing…
These are the things I wish I had known at the age of 16, 16 years later.
How to say no. There have been many decisions made for me during my lifetime and it took me until my late 20’s to learn how to say ‘no’ and tell others what I actually wanted for my own life. Learning this at 16 could have potentially saved me hours of boredom and dissatisfaction.
How to simply let it go. I spent most of my 20’s harbouring futile resentment and hatred towards people and situations that were out of my control. Meanwhile, while I was crying and feeling sorry for myself, they were out living their own lives without thought for anyone but themselves.
How to appreciate a moment. I have lost count of the amount of times I haven’t taken the time to step back and enjoy something beautiful.
Not to take the lives around me for granted. My grandfather, one of the nicest, most kind-hearted men I’ve ever known, passed away when I was 16 and to this very day I miss him dearly. One of my biggest regrets is not taking more time to find out about him, his life and his experiences. It was nearly 13 years after he passed that I researched my family history and found things that he could have explained further.
How to value my own opinion more than the opinions of others. At the age of 16 the slightest unkind word would send me into a spiral of self-doubt and worry. While these doubts still plague me from time to time, I can now trust my own judgement that what I am doing is right for me, and despite my many flaws and faults I can look at myself in the mirror and be proud of who I am.
How to hold my tongue during a heated argument. At times I have been ruthless when angry and have said things that I will never be able to take back, regardless of how many apologies I have made.
The value of money. I’ve wasted thousands over the years on nonsensical things and have nothing to show for it. Indeed, if I had saved the money that I have spent on cigarettes since starting my smoking habit at the age of 16 I would be able to put a large deposit down on a house, or be able to travel the world at least once.
How to appreciate that the love of a friend is just as important (and in some situations more so) as the love of a partner. While I am not the sort of person who abandons her friends for a relationship now, I have neglected friendships for the sake of a man on several occasions in the past and have had to work hard to regain them.
To understand that, regardless of the subject, my mother was, and still is, right about everything.
What about you? What one piece of advice would you give to your 16 year old self?
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Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge