Had I Known What I Know Now When I Was 16, My Life Would Have Been Different

Anonymous Anonymous in Your Story on 28 February, 2018

I want to write a letter to my 16-year-old self today. I wish I had got this kind of letter from my older self when I was 16 years old.

It would have changed my life for the better. But that’s life.

24 is a very young age to write this kind of a letter. I think only people who are 40 – 45 years old usually write such letters because they have enough experience about life. They must have learnt a lot from their struggles.

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But I don’t want to carry the burden of these thoughts in my heart till I turn 40. 

I often wonder about some of the most important things that I would always want my younger self to know. Perhaps I could even try to bring it down to the 4 best pieces of advice that I could give my younger self. So this is how it goes.

Dear younger me,

I’m writing this letter to you even though I really know what you think about all that I have to say. You may think that this is complete bulls**t.

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But I know you are saying this because you are just a scared sh*tle*s ego-driven kid who is out to conquer the world.

Let me start by telling you that your plans to conquer the world are not going to materialize. But there are many better things in store for you.

It’s just that you are too blinded by your own ambition to see all this right now.

Let me share some of the most important points that I learned in these past few years. I believe that if you avoid making these mistakes it will help you grow into a better and wiser person. You will also learn to be in control of all your emotions.

My experiences have guided me so well that I now know exactly how and when to react to all the curve balls that life throws at me. I learned to take all this with a wide smile and realized that this is how things were always supposed to be.
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Do remember that life will always take the shape that we give it. Whether it turns out to be a circle or a square or a triangle will depend on your creativity and your desire to achieve things in the right manner.

Life will be nothing like you had imagined it to be. It will be A THOUSAND TIMES better. You may have experienced a series of failures along the way. The only thing you need to learn is to avoid repeating these mistakes in your life. Let me list these failures for you so that you learn these life lessons well.

Failure no. 1: Not making your family your prime priority.

This is the worst and the most common mistake that every teenager makes. We all get to meet 5 new people every day. Some will entertain us, others will explore emerging technologies with us and some will take us to a completely fancy world which is so interesting that we forget our way back home.

Don’t get carried away by such things.

Your parents might put on a pretence of being super modern. But deep inside they can actually NOT sleep till you reach home at 4 a.m. after partying hard all night long with your so-called ‘friends.' Maybe you will not understand all this now. Maybe you will think that your mother is stupid.

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Maybe, just maybe, you are distancing yourself from your parents without even realizing it.

Don’t misinterpret the whole thing as ‘My parents need me.’ Trust me. It is exactly the opposite.

You need your parents much more.

Failure no.2: Not nurturing your relationships every day.

Being in a relationship should be a part of your daily routine.

Else you just suck as a person.
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The diehard romantic person in you will die if you cut yourself away from people who care for you. You will stop believing in the love that you heard about in the lyrics of your favourite piece of music and the love that you saw in all those movie scenes.

You will become jaded if you decide to distance yourself from your friends and family.

If you convince yourself that you are in love and break two or maybe 4 or more hearts - you will find yourself in a place that is rather empty. Hopefully, you will get a wake-up call when you realize this.

Maybe you will then get the profound insight that there is a MASSIVE difference between ‘settling’ and ‘settling down.’

Failure no. 3: Not letting go of the comfort that your initial jobs give you.

Treat your initial jobs as job opportunities only. Jobs will come and go and your career is going to be a somewhat disastrous battle.

But in all this misfortune you will be fortunate enough to realize that it all happens the way it is supposed to happen.

In many ways, your life will be like the second big wave in a series of waves. People who cruise along second waves somehow always get a bigger and more adventurous ride.

You will understand this only when you get there.

Most people try to go along with the first wave. Most of your friends may even make it on the first wave. They may fall in love, get married and have kids before you do.

But just know that the second wave is grand too and more often than not - it is a hell of a better ride.

Failure no. 4: Overreacting to small/simple stuff.

For the love of God, stop making such a big deal out of small things. The traffic jams, telephone bills and people who get in your way just test your patience and your ability to deal with them.

Unfortunately, you will fail this test over and over again. Fortunately, this kind of failure will leave you with many valuable life lessons. Your greatest weaknesses will then actually turn out to be your greatest strengths.

I know all these are tough things to swallow at your age. But I would like to say the same thing that I mentioned earlier. “If I had known what I know now when I was 16, my life would have changed for the better.” But then I wouldn’t have learnt any of these things without undergoing these kinds of experiences.

So I guess we just need to accept the learning that comes along with the journey and allow things to take their own course.

There will be times when you are so sad that you can’t lift your head. And then there will be times when you are so happy that the sensation of life throbbing within you will knock you down. But the most important thing is that YOU will wake up to find a whole new and better “YOU” every single day.

Lots of love,

From your older self.

Author's Note:

I would appreciate it if you all shared your thoughts about ‘what kind of advice you would give to your younger self’ in the comments section below.

Editor's Note:

All of us experience different challenges all through our lives.  Our challenges mould our personality in a unique way. But even the thought that ‘everyone else is struggling too’ gives us the much-needed dose of hope when we are struggling to cope with our own crises. Let’s share this story and learn to listen to the advice given by our well-meaning friends and relatives instead of dismissing it so casually.