Sixteen? Listen up.

Fifty-four year old advice I wish I could have given to my know-it-all sixteen-year-old self...

Dear Karen,

Take a deep breath and lighten up. Those school grades that give you ulcers aren’t really going to a couple years you’ll be going to a college that doesn’t use grades. And after one will ask. There are other things you should be more concerned about. Such as:

How about forgiving your parents for their divorce? You don't need to take sides. Marriages aren't easy. When you get married you’ll understand why. Crazy as this sounds, in five years you’ll be married. And here's some good news: your parent's story doesn't have to be yours.

Don’t be so concerned that some of your peers are cuter, slimmer, smarter, more athletic, more talented, funnier, richer, or luckier than you. Chances are someone wishes they had something you have. Getting older won't change things. If anything it highlights what we’re not. Discover your own special qualities and celebrate them.

Popularity isn't everything. Not everyone is going to like you, no matter how hard you try. In high school, some kids won't like you on purpose. That's okay—they're figuring things out too—it isn't all about you. Stay out of serious relationships with guys. At 16 your heart can get entangled and you'll lose your freedom much too soon. Like I said, you’ll be married in five years—so enjoy your independence.

You’re kind of confused about God right now. Welcome to where faith meets the world. This is a different kind of test than the ones you’re used to. Hate to tell you, but it only gets tougher. Hold onto that core belief that God is good, evil is bad and Jesus is with you no matter what. One day you'll wish you'd taken the pastor's challenge to read your Bible daily. Think of it as a spiritual investment. The more you deposit the richer you'll be.

16th Birthday 1974
Speaking of investments, you could be a millionaire by my age if you just save a hundred bucks a month. But you won't—and by the time you figure out the difference between a want and a need, you'll end up throwing away a lot of the stuff you wanted and didn't really need. 

It may seem like I’m ranting, but I’m you—just an older, wiser you. The best advice I can give you is to focus less on yourself and more on others. You’ll discover that happiness is a boomerang...coming back and making you happy too.

Look around at the friends and family you have—you’re sharing a journey with them. Be a good travel companion, even when you don't like some of stops along the way. A good attitude will give you memories you'll be happy to recall.

Last thing, remember you’re here for a reason. Life is more than what you can get out of it. It's also about what you put into it. Leave a legacy that matters. No, I won’t tell you what your legacy is, that’s for you to discover.

P. S. Enjoy every birthday--because it's a reminder that life is a gift that we open every day.

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