As I navigate my way through life, I have learned quite a bit along the way, and I most certainly have grown in ways I never would have predicted.
photo courtesy of @sillygirlcarmen

With my 10-year high school reunion quickly approaching, I have been seriously reflecting on what I have done, what I still want to do, and what I would change if I could go back in time. While I know time travel is still a thing of science fiction, learning from my past mistakes is a great way to move towards a better future.

Be true to yourself

Sure, you hear it all the time--but you never hear how people do it because admittedly, it is a pretty hard lesson to learn. For me, it was realizing that everyone is far more centered in their own lives and not mine, especially those who gossip. Being yourself is the best gift you can give yourself because when you are who you are supposed to be, you will find yourself surrounded by people who truly love you for you, and there is no better feeling.

Be patient

Learning to be your authentic self is not something that will happen overnight. I do not have the best handle on it all the time, but it is something I actively work to achieve everyday. If I could go back to see myself in high school, this is the piece of advice I would attempt to drive into my head. All of the fear, judgement, and social isolation I self-implemented just because I was afraid of someone thinking I was "different" was far worse than anything anyone else at school could have done to me.

Nothing is a failure if you learn from it

It is important to remember that things pass; the issues that seem so overwhelming right now will soon be distant memories. What you will carry with you are the improvements and lessons that you have learned from any self-perceived "failures" or "missteps."

Every time something in my life goes awry--regardless if it’s a bad hair day, something I sewed falling apart, or even an argument with a friend or family member--if I can take something away from it, then I did not fail. Instead, I look at how I improved myself to be better next time.

Don't be afraid to try new things

It could be scary to step out of your comfort zone, but you will only get so far if you do not stray into daring new territories. Go ahead, try out a new club at school because, who knows, it may become your new favorite hobby. Sure, you might fail, or you might feel really silly trying new things in front of strangers--remember that everyone has been in the same place as you. You may not love it and you may never want to do it again, but as long as you tried you did not fail, you just learned something new about yourself.

To sum it up

Generally, a big problem for young women is that we tend to be hard on ourselves. Understanding the true meaning of failure is one of the scariest parts of growing up. We are often our own harshest critics, and constantly bringing yourself down is not going to bring you to becoming the best you. Surround yourself with others who will elevate and ignite a drive in you to do and be better. Those who live their lives in negativity will do nothing but put a damper on your dreams. While I have no secrets for my younger self, I do have a few years more experience and I want my younger self to know that I am special, I am important, and I am unique, and I should not be afraid of that. Remember this:

  • Even though you are just one young woman in this world, you have a voice that deserves to be heard.
  • You have a passion that deserves to be explored.
  • You have a life that you deserve to live just the way you choose.
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