This is a picture of my Dad and I on vacation around 12-13 years ago. We used to go to a place called Fingal Bay in Australia every year after Christmas, and I have so many incredible memories of playing on the beach for hours with my dad. When I close my eyes, I can still smell the salty air, and feel the soft sand under my feet. I’ve come a long way since then, but I will cherish the memories I made on that beach forever.
Exciting news people! Tomorrow, I officially turn 16! Yay! Ugh, I am SO excited. I feel like I’ve been waiting to turn 16 since I was 8 and saw how elaborate Lilly Truscott’s Sweet 16 was in the Hannah Montana Movie. And now, it’s finally here! I sure have experienced a whole lot in my (almost) 16 years, and so today I thought that I would share 16 things I’ve learned.
Just like my letter to my younger self, this post is mostly for me. I think it is so important to reflect on what you have learned and how far you have come, and I want to encourage others to focus on what has already been accomplished for once, instead of constantly focusing on what else needs to be done. It’s great to be motivated, but sometimes it’s also great to appreciate the progress.
I’m not saying that I know everything, or that I’m super mature for 16, or that you need to do the things I list. Not at all. Our lives are all completely separate and unique stories, so I do not expect anyone to relate to this at all. If, however, someone does learn from this… Great! I am so glad that my journey can impact someone somewhere.
Life is so precious. And I am so thankful for the platform I have been given to further inspire, encourage, and influence the lives of so many.
Just know that no matter what season of life you’re in, no matter how much longer you need to fight, how much harder you need to work, you have already come a heck of a long way. And that in and of itself, is a huge achievement.
So, without further ado, I give to you, 16 Things I’ve Learned in 16 years.
- Different is cool. Don’t let the small-minded comments of fake friends hold anything over you. Because in the grand scheme of things, they have no part in your journey. Don’t let their judgement hinder you in any way, you’re better than that.
- Do not go to bed angry. Seriously, it never works out well.
- Surround yourself with people who are smarter, braver, kinder, more creative than you. Their presence will serve as constant inspiration, so never let yourself be the smartest person in the room.
- It’s okay if people don’t like you. No one is loved by everyone.
- Dancing to your favorite songs in your PJ’s can just about make any situation a whole lot better. Try it sometime.
- Negativity for the sake of negativity is never cool. Like, ever.
- You’re allowed to have bad days. Sometimes, it all gets a little too much, and you’re allowed to cry, to feel the weight of the burdens on your shoulders. No one expects you to hold everything together 24/7. Occasionally, things fall apart. No matter how bad it is though, you will rise up. You will overcome this; because for every bad day, there are twice as many good days.
- You don’t need to spend a lot of money or be somewhere super cool to have a great time. Adventure is everywhere, it’s up to you to find it.
- Take pictures. You’re going to want to remember these moments.
- When it comes to friends, quality > quantity. Always.
- No matter what, treat others with the kindness and respect you wish they gave you.
- Social media is fake. Don’t let the edited profiles of strangers affect you. It’s not real.
- In terms of makeup, less is more.
- Despite what you might think of yourself, you are beautiful. We all are. And sometimes, everyone but ourselves can see this.
- There is tremendous joy in doing what you know you’ve been called to do.
- You are exactly where you are supposed to be. Our God is with us and goes before us. Trust Him. He has you here for a reason.
There is so much I wish to do in my time here on this earth, I have learned much, and will continue to spend the rest of my life absorbing as much knowledge and experience as I can. Tonight, on the eve of my 16th birthday, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to those who have been part of writing the first 16 chapters of my story. I am who I am because of the people who have guided me.
So… Thank you.
“I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted” – Jack Kerouac