- Liz McDonald
10 Things I'd Tell 16 Year Old Me!
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
As I approach my 27th birthday, I've recently had some extreme changes happen in my own life and the lives of those around me. As a result of these changes I decided to put together a list of the things I would tell my 16 year old self if I had the chance.
1. Everything Happens for a Reason.
This first item sees a phrase I return to often; good or bad, everything happens for a reason. So when you feel despair, confusion, embarrassment, even heartbreak, remember it will all fall into place and you will be grateful for what you learn about yourself during each part of your life.
2. Stay Positive.
For this item, it is very important to always stay grateful and humble. Always remember that no matter how you feel or how badly off you are, there will ALWAYS be someone else who is a lot worse off than you. Use this fact to stay humble, help people - even when they don't acknowledge it or seem to notice, because at the end of the day, we all have our own battles inside and who's to know what that person is going through. Be humble, be positive, be kind.
3. Stay Focused.
This point is important because in the words of Boyzone; "when the going gets tough, the tough get going". Similarly, when you hit hard times or low points in your life and want to give up, take a while out and re-focus. evaluate whether this is still something that is important to you, still a career you wish to establish yourself in or still a goal you wish to accomplish. If not? Change it! If so? Persevere. Get your focus hat on, dig your heels in and keep going!
4. Be true to Yourself.
This is easier said than done, but once you've successfully accomplished it a few times, you will be even more determined in the future to continue on in this way. If you feel that something just doesn't sit right with you or your morals then it probably shouldn't be happening. Politely excuse yourself if need be and discreetly leave or publicly address it, if you feel strongly enough and confident enough to handle the back lash, should it occur. You are only 16, the weight of the world does not need to rest on your shoulders just yet, but you do need to find your footing in life and learn that at times, you will be the only one walking your path. Never fear though, because at some point, you will meet other like minded people, people who will help, guide and support you. Ironically, these people tend to appear as soon as you learn to support yourself but none the less, they are important to keep and treasure, as we all stumble off the path from time to time, and sometimes help is needed to stay on track.
5. Have Fun.
Always make time for play, whatever that means to you, do it. Take road trips, go on adventures, even if its nothing more than joining a soccer team, if you happen to be the only girl, learn from the boys, learn about yourself, but under no circumstances give up, if its what you want to do. Never allow anyone's negative approach on life stop you from having fun. Play music, learn an instrument, from a friend, a teacher, youtube; the possibilities are endless. Do it and do it often, for you, for others, for life. Age is a number, life is living, make sure the numbers don't cut your living short. There will always be time to do the mundane things in life.
6. Take Risks.
Be courageous, just because it hasn't been done before does not imply it should not be done, but rather, no one has had the balls to take the risk before now. Weigh up the pros and cons, make lists to decide what risks are feasible and which ones are down right stupid (try steer clear of these ones). Always put your safety first and that of others around you. Apart from that, try it, do it, go for it and never look back because every triumph is a lesson and every failure is a teaching. Good luck to you, I hope it works out!
7. It will all be alright in the end, if its not alright yet, then its not the end.
This adage, old as it is, is also so important for when you start on your journey, whatever that may be. In this point I would stress to you to keep going, no matter what. I was once scoffed at for being too short, too feminine, too polite, too kind, too pretty; to be a bouncer. Some of the people who thought I'd drop out after the first night were some of my closest friends and family, they thought I'd never survive. But survive, I did, for 5 wonderful years I worked on doors and in establishments all around Dublin and Meath and I loved every minute of it. Did I get ridiculed? Of course. Did I make my mark? I'd like to think so. Above all, I proved to myself that I could in fact do absolutely anything I set my mind to. So well, in fact, that I was not only head hunted for a position but also won a security member of the year award along with countless emails and messages of thanks from patrons and staff. It was a work role that afforded me the scope to explore myself and how I ticked; my pet peeves, my heart melters, my head wreckers, my morals and my character were all tested at some point and I can safely say were honed in this position over 5 years. Im not sure if its the end of that situation but it was certainly alright in the end.
8. Not your circus, not your monkeys.
Be it family, friends, partner, neighbors or colleagues; remember that it is not your responsibility to take on the woes of the world. If someone has problems in their lives, by all means help but don't get bogged down in their worries as you have enough of your own. Take care of yourself, your own mental and emotional health and well-being, before attending to other peoples. If they constantly try to dump on you, pull them up and say I'm afraid in this situation, I just don't have any suggestions about what you should do, perhaps you should speak with someone more knowledgeable than me. Is this a bit of a cop out? Yes but at 16 - 26 years of age, you won't have all the answers and to open yourself up to that sort of back lash is not helpful for you. Remember, it is not your responsibility to solve everyone's problems. If you ever feel guilty for not helping everyone at the same time, just remember " It's not your circus and they're not your monkeys".
9. Even if its late, finish it.
The sense of accomplishment from finishing something (even if it's ridiculously late) as opposed to never finishing it will stand to you in the long run and the rest of your life. See yourself as an achiever and you will take on the world, see yourself in a half arsed way and that will become your reality. Often times, people are annoyed that is was never finished rather than if it were just delayed or late. Put your heart and soul into every project, assignment and draft you work on. Work from the heart and proof read so that it can make sense to your 16 year old self and your 96 year old grandmother if needs be. On that note, any older people in your life will prove invaluable, they are a wealth of knowledge and support to learn from because they often use or have already used many of the points I have made above. My own inspiration; my wonderful grand aunt, traveled the world with her sister in their 60s, care free and single, determined to fulfill all their dreams. You will mostly find the older the person, the fucks they give!
10. Say "Fuck Off" a lot more often.
This final point, is a generalization, inspired by Dame Helen Mirren who said she would educate her younger self to say this phrase a lot more often during her lifetime. If you feel like you're being taken advantage of or that something that is happening doesn't sit right with you, then change it, tell those people where to stick it and continue looking until you find the right fit. I promise you, if you work hard enough and stay positive and focused the right fit will come along sooner than you think. Keep an open mind and try everything once. Stand up for yourself in a respectable fashion but always make sure to hold the guts to say "FUCK OFF" when you need it. Use it sparingly and softly for ultimate impact!
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Until next week,
Light, Love, Live,