16 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 16
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16 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 16

As told through the lovely Gilmore Girls.

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16 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 16
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I’m getting old. I might be only 21, but I’m getting old. My joints ache and crack and I find incredible comfort in going to bed by 9:30. I can’t function without at least two cups of coffee first thing in the morning and reading books for leisure is something I do and enjoy. I drink a glass of wine with dinner, not for the purpose of getting drunk (I can barely handle a hangover anymore), but because I think that the buttery aroma of a glass of chardonnay pairs nicely with shrimp scampi. I call my mother on a regular basis, just because it’s nice to hear her voice and catch up. I file my own taxes, I make my own appointments, I have a job, and I electively wake up at 5:45 to go to sunrise yoga. Somewhere in the midst of screaming matches and slamming doors, I grew up.

I was not a pleasant teenager. I dated bad boys, I snuck around, and I said inexcusable things to my parents. I was overweight, miserable, anxious, stressed, critical, judgmental, intolerant, impatient, and the worst version of myself. (I am still most of these things, but at least I’ve gotten really good at hiding it.) I was an angry, hormonal 16-year-old with a superiority complex and a deeply harbored dislike of the life I was leading. I was so sure of myself, positive that nothing I was doing was wrong and that my unhappiness was the fault of others. I was horribly insecure and hateful.

Five years ago, I would’ve rolled my eyes and scoffed if you’d told me I’d be where I am today. See, today, I’m a (relatively) self-assured young woman who willingly works out on a regular basis, has a close relationship with her siblings and actually misses them when we aren’t together, and realizes that treating others poorly will never get you what you want or what you need. I have a long way to go and I’m not perfect by any means, but what a difference five years makes.

At 16, I was too bullheaded for my own good. I had a plan and desperately needed life to go according to that plan, but life’s funny like that. I assumed my future would entail finishing out my four years of high school in Brunswick, Maine. Then I went to India. I dreamed of being a preschool teacher. Now I write. I was dead set on attending Villanova University. Now I’m a proud Santa Clara Bronco. At 16, I thought I had it all so figured out. Oh, I was so naïve.

I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t had to live through being 16. I learned so much in that year alone, never mind all the years since. But at 16, I had a lot of growing up to do. I know I had to live through being 16 to get to where I am today, but a part of me wishes I could go back and time and tell my 16-year-old self it was all going to be okay. But since time travel isn’t possible and even if it were, I’d probably disturb some space-time continuum and ruin my life if I did travel back, here are 16 things I wish I knew when I was 16:

1. Your mom will be your best friend.

I don’t know where I’d be without my mom these days. She’s the wisest, bravest, and most beautiful lady I know, and provides not only guidance, but also inspiration for me everyday.

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2. Boys grow up, too.

High school boys suck. But just as you’ll change, so will they, too. Somewhere along the way, they realize how beautiful and wonderful you are.

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3. You’ll probably fail your driving test, at least once.

I failed my driving test the first time because 1) I am not a good driver and 2) mere minutes before I got behind the wheel, I downed a large Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee and was so hyped on caffeine I could barely grip the wheel with my shaky hands.

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4. Your metabolism catches up to you.

I have always had a terrible metabolism, but especially today, I can’t eat like I did in high school. I’m not a varsity athlete anymore, and my body realizes that. At 16, you should be mindful of what you put in your body. It’s setting up your health for the years to come.

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5. Appreciate traveling with your parents.

I cannot tell you what I would give to be able to go on trips with my parents, where they pay for everything and plan everything and the trip is truly a vacation for you. If I were able to afford a proper vacation (and I’m absolutely not able to do so), I would probably just be stressed about money and lodging and activities and every other minute detail that comes with going on a trip.

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6. Save your money.

There’s been one too many times in the past year where I’ve found myself with less than meager funds at the end of the month, considering going on a Tinder date just so I’d have someone else to pay for a meal. I’ve never indulged that consideration, but I wish when I was younger I’d been smarter about saving my money so I could transfer those funds and that skill into my twenties.

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7. When you find a good hairstyle, stick with it.

This is so important. I’ve always been a hair chameleon and it’s a detrimental habit. When you find a hairstyle that makes you feel best, stick with it. You’ve got far bigger insecurities set up to come your way, and your hair never needs to be one of them.

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8. Exercise, exercise, exercise.

It’s absolutely imperative that you cultivate healthy habits when you’re younger, and exercise is a huge one. I wish I had been more motivated when I was younger to workout a regular basis. You only get one body, and you need to take the best care possible of it.

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9. Call your grandparents.

I lost my grandmother my senior year of high school. I wasn’t able to make it home for her funeral. It absolutely broke my heart. I would give anything to talk to her on the phone and hear her voice one last time. Talk to your grandparents every chance you get; they’re the reason you’re here and they love you a lot.

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10. Spend time outside.

At 16, all I ever wanted to do was sit inside on my phone and watch Netflix and wallow in self-pity. I wish I could shove my 16-year-old self off the bed and tell her to wake up and seize this one life you’ve got. I grew up in Maine, where there was an abundance of outdoor activities to do. I wish I’d hiked more, swam more, and seen more. Get outside and live.

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11. Choose your college carefully.

Here’s the one thing I did right in my teen years: I chose to go to Santa Clara University, where I’ve never been happier. Take the time and effort to find the perfect college for you. It’s worth every second, because college is the most formative years of your life. Don’t go somewhere where you don’t think you’ll be your best self.

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12. Be careful what you post on social media.

Look, your employer will find something incriminating, or your friends will go back years on your Facebook to find an embarrassing status you set with “Rolling In The Deep” lyrics and bring it back in all its glory. Either way, you’re screwed.

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13. Don’t procrastinate.

Just do your homework. I promise, as looming as your workload seems, it will only get worse in the years to come and procrastination is a terrible habit to nurture. If you think you know stress at 16, you don’t know the half. Try balancing four college courses with professors that think their class is the only one you’re taking, a job (or two or three), internship applications that require practically a blood seal, extracurriculars to fluff up your resumé, and maintaining some sort of social life so you don’t crack.

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14. Read as many books as you can.

In whatever free time you have, don’t just sit there tooling around. Do something to help your brain by reading. There are millions upon millions of incredible titles out there for you to read, and when you do genuinely have free time, read. You’re only doing yourself a favor by reading.

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15. Do stuff that scares you.

When I was a junior in high school, I left home for boarding school in India. I cried for the majority of the fifteen hour flight. It was the scariest thing I have ever done to date, but it was also the best. It was the most formative experience of my life and I’m a better person for it.

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16. Have fun.

You will never have more money, more free time, and be in better shape than when you're 16. Enjoy it while you can and cherish every moment.

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