Five things I would tell 16 year old Me

At 16 years old I had already lost my best friend to bad decisions, begun counseling others as a drug treatment counselor, for siblings, at a questionable organization, and decided that standardized tests would not show my intelligence. So, these are the five things I would tell that girl, if she would hear me.

1. You are enough — I spent my days comparing my insides to everyone else’s outsides. I was jealous of my friends and their boyfriends. My friends had just as many insecurities. If I could just sit myself down and convince myself that my company was enough and plenty.

2. You don’t need another person to feel whole — I had a serious boyfriend between 15 and 16 that lasted 6 months and when that ended I didn’t find another for a long time. I was very down on myself for that. I saw myself as a fifth wheel and unloveable. I could have spent that time trying new things. Reading about amazing ideas. Learning how to create.

3. You are smarter than you think — I refused to take my SAT tests because I am dyslexic, and I believed, and still do, that the tests would not show my intelligence. By not taking these tests, I narrowed my options to community college. There I discovered the lounge and earned a 0.0 GPA my freshman fall. It took me several years and an amazing professor to learn that I am more than a test, more than a class, and smarter than I realized.

4. Try the harder path — I spent a lot of time in high school manipulating my counselors and teachers to ease my way through school. Like water, I took the path of least resistance. What I know now. The things I really had to put my head down and figure out, are the things I truly appreciate and understand most.

5. Stick up for your beliefs — So many times I let the unacceptable go by. I let people bully me. It took me so long to get the courage to stand up for myself, much less to stand up for the injustices I see in the world.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and we always have regrets. Some of us are lucky enough to live to learn and be better. I can only hope that I can share this wisdom with some of the amazing women I have had the pleasure to know in my life.

All that said. I would not change a thing in my life. All the mistakes and good decisions I made, lead me to the life I have today. I am married to my perfect match. We have been married for going on 21 years. We started our dating relationship with a rule book. We set ground rules that established what was, and was not, acceptable. Some were fun, but others were dead serious. Such as, we are not allowed to use absolutes in arguments. No one “always” does something and “never” does another. It is amazing how quickly it takes the wind of out an argument when the other “throws a flag on the play” by calling out an absolute. We live our life together through mutual respect and our rules help us play fair.

What sort of advice would you give your younger self?

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