What advice would you give your 14-year-old self?
Recent and upcoming events made me consider this question. Here’s some stuff I might say.
Advice to my younger self
You’ll never stop feeling like a kid and magically turn into an adult. You won’t suddenly understand and control everything around you. That’s not a bad thing, just be ready for it.
You’ll always have a sensation that you’re playing at life while everyone else has got it sorted. Slowly, you’ll realise we’re all carrying our own bags through life. Some bags are heavier. Some people find good ways to carry them. If you can, help someone with their bags.
Try not to judge people or their actions. You’ve no idea what they’ve been through. You’ve not walked in their shoes. Jo Cox was right:
We have far more in common than that which divides us.
Stop! Slow down sometimes. Sit for a second to feel yourself breathing. Can you feel that? Isn’t it amazing?
Respond, rather than react.
You won’t spend every day feeling awesome. Some days or weeks or months will feel darker and harder. That’s OK. Despite what you think, these days won’t last forever.
You won’t spend every day feeling bad. Some days or weeks or months will feel lighter and easier. Enjoy them. Despite what you think, these days won’t last forever.
You’ll never be perfect at anything, ever. Be fine with that. It doesn’t mean you can’t improve, though.
Don’t be seduced by others’ notions of success or achievement. Working relentlessly to get money, promotion or material objects may not be in your best interests. Try not to let insecurity or marketing bully you into thinking otherwise.
Notice the joy in the supposedly mundane
As I write this windy February day, there’s poetry in the waving of unmown grass and the clattering of bare tree branches.
You can’t make everyone in the world like you, so stop trying. You don’t have to be the same. You don’t have to be different. Accept yourself with comfort.
Don’t be afraid of looking like an idiot. Sometimes you will look like an idiot. And then you won’t.
Your legs will get slower, your hair greyer, your skin less elastic. But the realisation that those things aren’t as important as you think is one of the most liberating feelings you will ever know.
“Be healthy and at ease with yourself.” If you wish for anything, wish for that. For you and for every single other being.
Many days, you’ll forget or ignore every single line of this advice. Don’t worry. You’ll have another chance tomorrow.
DISCUSS: What would you tell your 14-year-old self?