I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ’cause she’s too busy worrying about things that don’t matter anymore.
A few years back, I wrote a post reflecting on what I would tell myself at sixteen. Now felt like a good time to revisit that idea. My brother and stepsister are both sixteen, and my little sister is halfway there. My siblings are very different than I was at that age, but they’re facing a lot that I wasn’t.
Snapchat wasn’t a thing until I was a senior in high school. Instagram was still in its infancy. Social media influencers hadn’t taken off. It made a big difference. But there are still many things that I have learned since I was sixteen that I believe I would want to know back then, and they still apply to my siblings today.
The 5 x 5 rule. If it isn’t going to matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes letting it upset you. I don’t remember most of the things that upset me at 16. Do you know why? Because they didn’t matter as much as I thought at the moment. If only I knew that then.
Stop listening to the noise. Don’t let what other people say have an impact on how you choose to lead your life. Everybody has opinions. That’s fine. But at the end of the day, you’re the one living with the decisions you make.
Learn to love yourself. Don’t ever forget you are the person you’ll spend the most time with for the rest of your life. You have so much more to offer the world.
Care about your future while remaining present. I have always been a forward thinker. As a 10-year-old, I once asked a friend if she ever wondered about who she would end up marrying. I will never forget, she looked straight at me and said, “No, I’m 10.” For years, I have had to constantly remind myself to stay present. At the same time, I don’t know if I would be where I am today without thinking about what I wanted for my future.
Choose your own adventure. It’s not just a type of book. You get to pick how you want your life to be. Don’t let what you haven’t done get in the way of what you could be doing. On that note…
Start today. There are so many dreams that I have had for so long but have never done anything about. At age 12, I made a goal to write a book by age 18. Overly ambitious, I know. But I thought if the woman who wrote The Outsiders could do it at 16, so could I. There are so many goals and habits I wish I would have started a long time ago.
Forget about dating — until you’re at least 20 — maybe 24. I would like all the time I spent even thinking about boys before age 20 back. We talk about not having enough time in the day. I would have years on my life back if I could get back all the energy I wasted on silly crushes and dating all the wrong guys.
Be your own cheerleader. There will be times when you feel like the world is plotting against you, and it’s everyone’s mission to ruin your day. Quiet those thoughts. No one is that vindictive. But growing up is about realizing you have to be the one cheering yourself on in order to keep going. You have to cling onto your biggest motivators and never let go.
Just be a kid. It’s the last time you’ll ever have that chance. You don’t have bills. You don’t have student loans or a 9 to 5 job. You have the freedom to be a kid! That is a wonderful thing. We waste way too much of our youth wanting to be older — more mature. Take it from me, being an adult is overrated.
Don’t worry, no one actually has it all figured out. That’s all.
As much as I wish I could, I’ll never be able to go back and tell myself all that I have learned in these last seven or eight years. All that I can do is hope that maybe, just maybe, these words will help someone else skip some of the pain and heartache I’ve gone through learning these lessons. After all, isn’t that what big sisters are for?