Do you ever look in the mirror and think to yourself, "I am proud of who I have become today"? Well, I find myself saying that phrase quite often lately. As proud of who I am today, there are some things I would want to say to my past selves of all ages. I'm only 19 right now, but I was a completely different person at ages six, 13, and 16. I would want to tell all of these past versions of my self some pieces of advice that would've made maturing much easier.
First, I'd talk to my six-year-old self. I was the happiest child in the world. Still sassy, but happy. I had been diagnosed with psoriasis when I was five, but I was too young to be self-conscious about it. I was happiest at this point while growing up, so I don't have much to say to the six-year-old me. The only advice I'd give myself is to remember to always be kind no matter where you go in life. The world will always need more kind people to spread sunshine when there's a rainy day.
Oh 13-year-old Jake, you wanted to dye your fohawk red. THANK GOD mom and dad put a stop to that. When I was 13, I was in middle school. Yep, that time when all pre-teens are introduced to anxiety. My source of anxiety came from not being comfortable with my psoriasis showing, and questioning of my sexuality. Overall, I wasn't comfortable in my own body, which I think everybody would be able to relate to at that point in time. But prior to this, I had been the victim of some major bullying. So, I got into the eighth grade and decided I would do anything to never be harassed again.
I witnessed so many instances of bullying and chose to stay silent out of fear of being back in that place. But I knew how it felt to be bullied, so I should've stuck up for anybody I witnessed receiving that kind of mistreatment. My advice for my 13-year-old self is never allow bullying to go on right in front of you. Always help somebody who could use it, because if it were you, you'd want someone to step in and make things better.
We've reached 16-year-old Jake, and he is a DIVA. Yes, very similar to the current 19-year-old you all know, except this younger diva is not confident in who he is. When I was 16, I was in the pretty open about being a gay young man with everybody in my life, but I still had a MOUNTAIN of anxiety about it. Don't forget that I have psoriasis too, so all I could do was worry about what every other person thought about me. I was obsessive about how my hair looked, and the outfits I wore. Teenagers can't help but worry about what their peers think of them, but I was doing it to an extreme. The advice I'd give to my 16-year-old self is loving yourself for who you are on the inside instead of the outside is what really matters. At the end of the day, if you don't love you for YOU, then you won't ever be truly happy.
Now we're back to the present. I'm a 19-year-old sophomore at UW-Milwaukee, still figuring life out. But for the first time in my life, I am completely happy and confident in myself, inside and out. It took a long time, and it was definitely worth it. But I'm only human, just like everyone else I know. I make mistakes and I learn from them. It makes me smile to know that I would set a good example for my younger selves. I would be the person that my past selves would look up to and aspire to be like. Being happy with yourself and being a good person is what will lead to true happiness in life, and that's the advice I have for every single person out there in the world.