What would you tell your 16-year-old self?
When I look at this picture of myself at 16 years old, I have to chuckle because I remember when the photo was taken. I remember that it was at my first job working at a bakery on Church Ave. in Brooklyn. I would come directly after attending school and was responsible for serving customers, cleaning up and sometimes decorating the cakes.
There was a guy around who would sometimes come into the store, and he loved taking pictures so when he asked to take my photo, I did not hesitate. After all, he was a “regular” customer, so I didn’t think taking a picture would cause any harm.
Fast forward 35 years later and this picture speaks volumes about the center of my soul and the core of my existence because I see myself and the world differently now. I see such happiness, a glow, and a degree of innocence when I look at this picture. But I also see things in life now that I did not know actually existed at 16 years old, and these are the things I would teach my 16-year-old self:
- Life should not be full of “What If’s?” Instead, ask yourself “Why Not?”
If you live your life focusing on what “coulda, woulda, shoulda,” then you may “never.” Instead, dare to deliver your dreams. Walk down the paths of the unknown and begin to discover the depths of your destiny. By giving yourself permission to explore and examine, you are granting yourself the opportunity to dream.
- Allow yourself to learn.
Yes, you may know some of it, but you do not know all of it. Allow yourself to engage in programmatic discourse, to recognize, understand and appreciate ideological stances that are in contrast to your own. Allowing yourself to do so permits you to expand your worldview, embrace your epistemological paradigms and become accepting of differences in life.
- Let your “No!” mean No and your “Yes!” mean Yes.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Do not waffle. While it is your prerogative to change your mind, you must be firm in the decisions that you make. That is the only way to stand firm in your convictions and never engage in a barter system of your core values and beliefs just for the love and acceptance of someone else.
- Know your value and appreciate your worth.
Beyond money, know who you are and why you are worthy. You don’t have to “give in” just to “get in.” You need to find that healthy balance between compromise and sacrifice and still feel worthy. You don’t have to give up who you are to be what someone else wants you to be. Ever.
5. Some people are going to love you the best way they know how.
And you are just going to have to determine if that is the love you need or if it is enough for you. Period.
- Always lean on those triple shields of Grace, Faith, and Mercy.
There are no barriers to hurt, anger, frustration and betrayal in this world, so you have to create your artillery to help you get through it all. You cannot crumble just because your heart is broken and your ego shattered. You have to learn how to Get Over It…that requires leaning on these triple shields. No one or nothing can provide you with more strength than this armor of protection.
- Get out of your own way.
Stop thinking so hard about your dreams and begin to work those dreams. Don’t just talk about them, figure out how to do them…And then, just do it.
- Everybody is not going to like you, and everyone will definitely not love you.
9. You own the power of change.
So stop complaining and change it.
10. Everyone who is sitting in your front row is not always clapping for you.
Scan the room to check everyone in your audience. Sometimes your biggest supporters are standing around the perimeter of the room. Don’t be fooled by their “seat” in your life and don’t automatically accept that if they are in the front row, they are supporting you.
- Know that Love hurts.
As much as Love feels good, it has a tendency to feel bad too. You will have your heart broken in many different ways by many different people, and you may even do it yourself. But remember, if you allow yourself to be loved, you will eventually be loved in a way that is the right way and feels good most of the time.
- Have an abortion. Several of them if necessary.
Terminate any pregnancy that will give birth to hopelessness, despair, disenfranchisement, negativity and toxins in your life. Anything that threatens to destroy your heart, mind, body, spirit and soul should be demolished. You will never, ever require those for positivity and success so abort them as quickly as you realize they are growing within you.
- Be thankful. Be grateful. Be humble.
Never forget where you came from because that will help you to figure out the direction you are headed. But if you remain a believer, you will already know that God has ordered your steps, and you are just traveling along the road that he has created specifically for you, so you are humbled to know that you already have a personalized path in life. You should be grateful that you have already been promised prosperity, and you have been equipped and empowered to persevere, persist and live in your life’s purpose and passion.
14. Be still.
Sometimes you just have to sit and listen to your own heartbeat to hear its angelic sound. There will be times that you will be embroiled in the mundane daily activities of life and the trajectory of your goals that you may become confused about the tempo of your heart and what it means. Be still to know reacquaint yourself with the rhythm and beat again.
- Be obedient.
As much as you will think that you are in control, never forget that God is really the one who holds the reins. There will be many times where you will have to “Let Go, and Let God.” You will need to trust and believe in his Word and know that in places of turbulence and pain in your life, God is right there in you, next to you and with you. He will also be beside you as you walk along unfamiliar roads but you must be obedient to understand the clues and instructions that he leaves to help you navigate your life. This is how you will pass through any pain you may endure.
There are literally hundreds of other lessons that I could share and teach my 16-year-old self, but these are, by far, the most important 15 that I have learned since taking this picture 35 years ago. I had no clue then about the woman I would become now and the lessons learned were actually blessings earned.
Knowing what I know now, I’m not sure if I would change much, but I do know that I wish I knew more then…Or, allowed myself to learn more. I know that I wish that I had allowed myself to be loved the way I deserved to be loved and then perhaps I could love a bit differently now. Sometimes, people just want to love you and sometimes you just have to let them.
Life’s lessons often come full circle, and there are probably things that my 16-year-old self could teach my 50-year-old self right now, but I know that the core of my heart and soul has withstood the tragedies and triumphs over time. And for that, I am grateful. I am humbled, and I am thankful.
And, I don’t think I turned out too badly hunh?
Tell me, what are 2 things you would say to your 16-year-old self?
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