Advice To My 16 Year Old Self

20 October 2017

Now at the ripe old age of 21, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on what I've learnt in the past couple years; after all the teenage years are notoriously turbulent, full of ups and downs and a constant struggle to find your identity. So, after having a little think here are 16 pieces of advice I would give to my 16 year old self.

1) Set Goals and Develop Passions
Passion is the spice of life, it's what keeps things interesting and motivates us to get out of bed in the morning. Without passions and goals life can feel a little stagnant, so setting goals is important not only for personal achievement but for contentment in life. Goals don't have to be huge impossible tasks, no matter how small a goal is still a goal, and the feeling you get from reaching it is incredible.

2) Don't Fear Judgement
Along a similar vein, don't hide your passions or let them die for fear of what other people might think. So many people regret the things they didn't do, and say to themselves things like 'if only I'd never given up the piano'. Nobody wants to live their life wondering 'What if?', so give your passions your best shot, and don't care too much about what other people think.

3) Get a Job
I didn't get a job until I was nearly eighteen, as soon as I started my first job I quickly realised what I had been missing out on. Part time work is a great way to expand your social circles and meet new people, all while earning a little extra cash and developing skills that will look great on your CV.

4) Be More Active
I always regret not getting into sport and exercise when I was younger. As a (sort of) adult I've yet to find many ways of exercising which I actually enjoy. Partly due to my unfamiliarity with sport which used to leave me embarrassed as I didn't quite have the confidence to put my self out there and try to take part.

5) Try New Things
So many people develop their hobbies and passions during adolescence, there is so much out there to try but often it requires you to step out of your comfort zone, and even sometimes to do something without the safety net of a friend their to hold your hand. The more I try new things the more independent and confident I feel, to the point now where I will give almost anything a go. I could really have used a bit of that mantra in my teens.

6) Make Education a Priority
Education is the number one way to change your life and achieve social mobility. The exams you take may be stressful and seem pointless but an education is the one thing that can never be taken away from you. Its value is priceless, some people don't even get the chance to have an education so its certainly not something to be squandered, even if social events and Netflix may seem more appealing.

7) Ditch Toxic Friendships
As you get older you'll quickly realise the people who bring you down in life and the people who put you in a great mood. The people who only seem to complain and cause drama are not the people that will help you along the way in life. You don't need them and you'll probably find yourself doing much better once they are out of the picture. Oh, and just because you've known someone a long time doesn't mean you need to stay friends with them.

8) Make New Friends
Yep, new friends are to be found on every corner. In a few months time you'll be amazed to think that you haven't known these people your whole life. Its always an amazing feeling when you click with someone instantly and seem to have lots in common. A lot of people seem to find it difficult making new friends as they get older, but its all about putting yourself out there, most of the time people are open to new friendships if only you initiate it.

9) Don't Feel Obliged To Wear Makeup All The Time
At 16 you probably wouldn't have seen me out of the house without a full face of makeup. At the time I didn't really see that this was a problem, only now I see what an unhealthy standard this was to set for myself. Makeup should be expressive and fun, not a mask to wear because you're worried of what people might think. These days I feel perfectly comfortable to go out of the house sans makeup, and when I do wear makeup I wear if for me, not for anyone else.

10) Spend Time With Family
It seems like only yesterday I would spend lazy Sundays with my family, binge watching TV with my siblings or chatting to mum and dad over a cup of tea. These are the things I really miss now that I'm at uni and I only get to see my family once a month or so. Uni holidays are a godsend but they don't come round often enough.

11) Read More
There are so many wonderful stories to be told and heard, its only now that I'm at uni I don't seem to have time to read for pleasure. I still value the impact a great story can have on you, but I wish I had read more when I was in sixth form, there's really no better way to expand your mind and challenge yourself.

12) Spend Your Time Wisely
Develop new skills, make lasting memories, spend time doing the things you love. As you get older truly free time seems to disappear into thin air, and you'll never have more free time than when you're at school, college and sixth form. It is so true that you don't realise how good you've got it until its too late.

13) Spend Money On Experiences
As I said above, making memories is a surefire way to ensure you don't regret the way you spend your hard earned wages. What could you do with that £20? Spend it on dinner at an average restaurant or use it to take your little sister to play mini golf, I think its pretty obvious which one you'll remember better a few years down the line.

14) Visit Your Grandparents
My Grandparents were a huge part of my childhood but I can certainly say I drifted from them during my teens. Its only now that I've realised they aren't going to be around much longer that I've had the wake up call to spend as much time with them as possible. Its clear to see how much it means to them when I stop by for a visit, I only wish I had realised this sooner.

15) Constantly Push yourself
It's all too easy to sit back on your laurels when you have a few achievements under your belt, however what makes the real difference is what you do after that. Never give up, never stop searching for the next opportunity, always try to better yourself because there's so much out there, every person has potential, but it's up to the individual to tap into it.

16) Experiment With Fashion
I've only started stepping out of my comfort zone with fashion in the past year, trying out brighter colours and different styles. Its easy to settle into your typical style but every once in a while its good to try something completely different from your usual. I always find it an amazing confidence boost when I try something new and love the way it looks, that kind of boost has an all round positive effect, after all when we look good we feel good too.

So, there we have it. 16 pieces of advice to my 16 year old self, for now I will try and take some of my own advice and use this reflectional piece to better myself and get the most out of uni. It's really blowing my mind how fast the year is going, I know it'll be over in the blink of an eye and I want to be able to be look back and be proud of myself.


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