21 Important Things I Learned by 16

I’d like to think I’m your average teenager. I go to school, I play sports, I hang out with my friends, I probably spend too much time on my phone, and I don’t think I need to wear sunscreen when I go to the beach. Recently, after talking to one of my best friends and my mom, I realized that writing about my life was something I wanted to do, so if you’re still reading this, here are 21 things I’ve learned in my 16 short years.

  • Appreciate and enjoy the life you’ve been given.

I know what you’re thinking, this one is in every post like this you’ve ever read. It’s cliche. And you would be right. But if there’s anything I’ve truly learned in my 16 years of life it’s to look around every once in awhile to remember how good you have it.

  • Whatever it is, it works out, it always has and it will continue to.

If you’re anything like me, you worry constantly about the decisions you’re making, the mistakes you’ll make or the things you say. I finally realized in my sophomore year of high school that after looking back, all of those things I worried about weren’t really worth it. Whether i made the right or wrong choice, said the wrong words or made that mistake, I turned out just fine and actually ended up learning most of the things on this list from it. Also, stop worrying about the things you can’t even control (this may count as it’s own lesson but it seemed to fit here too).

  • Stay Humble.

No one likes someone who knows they’re good at what they do and makes it known to everyone else and it’s as simple as that. Or, in other words, don’t be cocky.

  • Overuse the words “Thank You.”

Even when you think you don’t need to, just say it. This is something I’m still working on but just be polite. Nobody ever complained about someone who thanked them too much. People like to be appreciated and I think that’s just human nature.

  • Grades don’t define you, but they do matter.

Again, if you’re anything like me, the first part of that sentence makes you angry. I don’t know if anybody who actually still says this realizes it doesn’t make me worry any less about the 4 tests I have the next day. This past year, I learned that studying will pay off and it is worth it especially when you end with grades that make applying and getting into college easier. This is not to say take all the hardest APs and never have fun, but it’s to say that you should work hard in order to earn results but at the same time, don’t worry yourself to death before you even get to college.

  • You will fight. With your parents, with your brother, with your boyfriend and with your best friend. Learn to let it go and accept when you’re wrong.

I’m not one to admit it when someone else is right and the people closest to me will confirm this. However, as stubborn as I am, I’ve finally realized that these arguments are inevitable but it’s extremely important to know when the fight is even worth it, when the other is right, and when to let it all go.

  • Live for you, not for anyone else.

This might also sound like one of those cliche, inspiring rules but I still find it essential to being happy. As “Life is Good” simply says it, “Do what you like, like what you do.”

  • Your parents know more than you, and they always will. Listen to them.

As much as your teenage self loves to deny this, it’s true. They also want what’s best for you, let them help you. Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this, I know you’re surprised but I know this and I’m working on it.

  • A good group of friends is the best thing you could have at this age.

Find people who care about you, can make you laugh, will be crazy with you, will support you and will help you be a better person and you’ll be set. I personally have the best group of friends a girl could ask for, so if you guys are reading this, thank you for everything.

  • Being “cool” is really not cool at all.

This can apply to many different things but the bottom line is, trying to fit in is absolutely no fun.

  • Talk to someone.

One of my greatest flaws is that when I have problems or worries I bottle them up and try to handle everything on my own because I think I can. I know now that this is so unhealthy and whether it be a parent, a best friend, a boyfriend, a sibling, a teacher or whoever, talking will help. Asking for help will help.

  • Listen.

I don’t think I need to explain this one but just take it in and if you’re asked to do something, do it. If someone gives you advice because they’ve been there before, take it. Yes, Dad, this one was for you.

  • Your opinion matters, but it doesn’t always need to be heard.

Some people may disagree with me about this but especially as a teenager I’ve learned that you will have drastically different opinions on any kind of situation as your peers. And that’s okay. There are times and places fit for debates but twitter and the hallway do not qualify. And I mean, at 16 how much could I possibly know anyway?

  • It’s okay to look forward to things, but don’t wish your life away.

We all get caught in it. Wishing for Christmas break, then Spring Break, then Summer, then that beach vacation, then that concert, and then they’re all over. And you blinked twice.

  • Take compliments when they’re given to you.

This is something that’s always been hard for me, but not many things are more annoying than fighting with someone who won’t accept the kind comment you didn’t even have to give them in the first place.

  • Take pictures but put your phone away otherwise.

Growing up in this generation has really been something else. We’ve witnessed insane technological advancements and have the world at our fingertips. And don’t get me wrong, this is super cool, but teenagers, including me, and many adults spend way too much time on their phones with company around. Of course, I love pictures and I love filling my Instagram with all the awesome memories I have with my friends, my family, and my boyfriend but there’s a time for that and there’s a time for actual conversation.

  • Don’t change for anyone.

You were created the way you were for a reason. Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not good enough or the way you think isn’t sensible or that you need to be more like someone else. At some point, people will come to realize that the way you do things and the way you think are worth appreciating.

  • Take care of yourself, physically and mentally.

Growing up as an athlete, I never really had to worry too much about taking care of my body and staying in shape. However, I always knew it was an important part of maintaining a healthy life. Except, I was always one to forget that keeping a sane head was just as important. I suppose this could go hand in hand with the things I said earlier about talking to people and asking for help but it doesn’t hurt to touch on it twice. When you’re stressed out and overwhelmed, this is a way of your body telling you to go do something fun and to stop thinking so hard, so listen to it. And I know, I need to take my own advice.

  • Make time for yourself.

It’s okay to want to be alone, it doesn’t make you abnormal and antisocial. I think some people don’t need this as much as others but in my opinion those people are crazy. Alone time is good for the soul and that’s all I have to say about that.

  • Write things down.

This is something I have thought about for a while and ultimately when I realized it was important was when I started writing pieces like this. In my opinion, I think it’s important to remember how you felt at certain times in your life. If I find this page when I’m 30 and it can remind me of the things I was learning for the first time at 16 years old, I’d like to think my 30 year old self would be very appreciative. I think I would also be spending some good time down memory lane, because let’s be honest, being 16 is fun.

  • Keep an open mind.

I think the most ignorant thing a person can do is close their mind to new or different ideas. I’d like to think the greatest things there are to hear will come from listening to what other people have experienced. Plus, I am only 16 after all, I still have a lot to learn.