Another year for me has come and gone, and I'm now approaching age 17! In honor of this new chapter unfolding, here's 16 things I learned at 16.
1. You're perfectly okay by yourself.
In a world full of relationship goals and cute couples, I've learned that it's perfectly okay to be single. There's nothing wrong with pursuing friendships or working on opportunities to improve yourself.
2. If people don't want to be in your life, don't make them be.
I have learned through my own struggles that you can't make a person like you. Also, people grow out of each other. That's okay. It's not your place to worry if they stay or not, the best thing you can do is let them go.
3. Spend time with people who value your presence.
I constantly see people, as well as myself, continuing to surround themselves with people who do not improve their lives. People who drag them down and make them feel like they're less of a person. This should not be. You have the power to change your surroundings, change them to cultivate your life.
4. Acting older than you are isn't a bad thing.
I for one am always acting mature for my age, and ready to speed up the aging process. There's nothing wrong with that. Embrace your maturity and allow it to shape your future.
5. Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.
As I've gotten involved with politics, and in other aspects of my life too, this has become even more true. You can not let your beliefs dwindle, or your mind settle. Even if you are terrified of the result, speak.
6. Put yourself out there.
If you don't allow yourself to take risks, you'll never change. With that, you'll become stagnant. As risky or scary as it may be, if you don't allow yourself to be a little scared for the sake of a new experience, you'll never prosper.
7. Don't shy away from leading.
When someone gives you an opportunity to grow and lead, no matter how far out of your comfort zone, take it. Allow people to benefit from your knowledge and help people become your best self.
8. Take every opportunity to travel that you can.
At 16 I went more places than I could have imagined. Seeing new places and being able to change your view is one of the most important things you can do. Get out of your normal, and see the world.
9. It's okay to not be everyone's cup of tea.
Not everyone is going to be rooting for you. Not everyone is going to agree with you. Not everyone is going to be happy when you succeed. These are all okay.
10. You don't have to wear makeup every day.
This seems so simple but its true. It's pretty self explanatory, really. People don't look at you as much as you think, and makeup isn't always a necessity.
11. Having different interests than others isn't a bad thing.
As you age and grow, your interests do too. Don't put yourself in a box of set interests, and don't see it as a bad thing. Even if what you want to pursue is different than most others, that's okay.
12. Never disregard your morals for temporary fun.
This. This has become such a prominent theme for my past year. There's nothing wrong with standards, and there's especially nothing wrong with morals.
13. Never apologize for being close to your family.
Family is what matters most, when it comes down to it. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for valuing them or for choosing them over a night out.
14. Respect isn't always reciprocated.
You may have a falling out or an altercation with someone, and it may alter your friendship. It sucks, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and act like an adult. The worst part? You may have complete respect for someone, and by no fault of your own, they may not give that back.
15. If you aren't challenging yourself educationally, you're missing the point.
If you are coasting by and not looking forward in regards to your education, you're missing the whole point. Habits are hard to form, and if you aren't forming them early on then you're going to be hurting. If you aren't taking classes and pursuing concepts that are hard to grasp in some capacity, you are only hurting yourself.
16. Never miss an opportunity to praise God.
Whether it's at church, reading your bible, or just hearing your favorite worship song or seeing a sunset. Never miss an opportunity to pray and give thanks to God, or to glorify his name.
Age 16 was a great year, probably the biggest year of growth that I've experienced. I can't wait to see what lies ahead.