When I was 16 I lived in a very small town in northern Ontario. Up until then I had lived in big cities. Quite a culture shock. I was depressed about having to move away from my friends and start a new highschool. There was nothing to do in the summers (or so I thought), and I counted down the days when I could take the long bus ride to visit my best friend in the south of the province.
Looking back 24 years later, in no particular order, here are some things I would tell my 16-year-old self. (Would she listen?…)
1. You won’t be stuck in a small town forever. Once high school is done the entire world awaits! And highschool will be finished before you know it, even though it seems like a snail’s crawl right now.
2. It’s ok to be shy. But try to step out of your comfort zone at least once a day and do something that scares you.
3. Enjoy the people around you now. They may not be your close friends, but there are good people everywhere.
4. Don’t stop drawing. I did, and I regret it.
5. It’s ok to throw yourself into something and strive for success (i.e., school), but remember that there is a world out there that will carry on, with or without you. Try to find balance.
6. Boy bands? Really?
7. I know you hate your body right now. Like, really hate it. But you are beautiful. Seriously. And healthy. I like my body now! And out there somewhere is someone who thinks that your butt is perfect, even though you think it’s the worst!
8. But it really doesn’t matter what other people think. Trying to please people all the time is exhausting. Trust me, I tried. For a long time. I now try to please myself and I feel lighter and I sleep much better at night.
9. Listen to your gut. Listen to that little voice inside you. For example, you like English class and reading and writing? Maybe you should do something about it!
10. It’s ok to ask for help. Sometimes it. Is the smartest thing you can do.
11. Remember that day when you were walking to school and you were admiring the fall leaves, and then you tried to describe them in the best way possible, and you had a thought avalanche that took you to a new and dark place and you became terrified and you mentally slammed the door? Let’s go back there some day. There’s something there. (See point #2).
12. Try treating yourself the way you treat your friends.
13. The universe has a funny way of teaching us things and working things out. Trust me. Please trust. And try.