Thursday, October 13, 2011

Advice for Your 16-year-old Self

The other day I was having a conversation with my daughter. She was telling me the latest controversy among her group of friends. A minor thing seems like the only thing when you’re almost 16 years old. As I listened to her talk about the world of teenage girls, I couldn’t help but thinking, “Thank God I’m not in high school anymore!”


My high school senior yearbook photo
 Don’t get me wrong. I had a good high school experience. But when you’re in high school there can be so much drama. You’re trying to figure out who you are and how you fit. Nowadays there seems so much pressure to be popular. Although I’m sure there was that pressure when I was 16 too, but in this generation of Facebook, Twitter, instant communication and cyberbullying, the pressure cooker of peers seems to be even more intense.

I often tell my daughter, “You won’t even remember most of these folks 10 years from now.”

The advice I gave her the other day in regard to dealing with friends and misunderstandings and the general drama of hormonal girls was, “This too shall pass.”

As I prepare for my 25th class reunion at the end of October and my daughter turns sweet 16 in November, I think about the advice that I was given when I was that age, how much of it was really true and how much did I follow.

I received (and for the most part followed) excellent wisdom and advice based upon God’s Word from my parents. I was also blessed to have friends who had parents with the same values as my parents. My neighbor told me college would be some of the best times of my life, to enjoy it to the fullest. She was right and I did.

One of my mother’s favorite sayings was, “God gave you some sense.” One of the millions of nuggets of wisdom from my father was, “You have to learn to live with people because you’ll have to live with them for the rest of your life.”

I find myself passing these lessons to my children, including a few variations and bits of wisdom that I have picked up along the way of this journey called life (check out 43 lessons I’ve learned in 43 years).

But I was thinking, if I was to go back in time and speak to my 16-year-old self what would be the most important words of wisdom that I would want to impart to that young lady on the brink of adulthood? It probably wouldn’t be much different than what my parents told me. It’s some of the things I know and that I tell myself and live by today. It’s what I tell my children and other young people.

But I think I would tell my 16-year-old self something like this:

“In life you will have heartaches and pains, trouble and trials. Sometimes you will feel like giving up or a failure. You will also have joy and triumphs, laughter and love. Through it all, remember God is with you. Love freely. Forgive freely. Tell those you love that you love them. Our lives are our choices. Learn from the past but don’t dwell on your mistakes. Savor every minute. Take advantage of every opportunity. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. Always remember who God says you are. Wherever you go and whatever you do, leave the place a little better for you having been there and take something from the experience to make you better. Don’t waste time. But make sure you stop and smell the roses. Don’t be held captive by fear. Life is short. Live it.”

If you could go back and talk to yourself at age 16 (knowing what you know now about yourself and your life’s journey), what advice would you give to yourself?

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