What would you tell 16-year-old you? The hormone crazed, boy band obsessed, probably watching “High School Musical” and always dissatisfied with your parents, you. You remember her or him? I know I do.
This question came to mind a few weeks ago while listening to Wired 96.5 radio personality Dj Buster on his The Best in the World show. He asked his listeners, “What would you tell 16-year-old you?” At first it took me a second to recollect all my experiences being 16. It’s not that a lot time has passed since then, but more-so because I am so far removed from that time in my life. As a college junior I often think back to those moments and have meditated on past situations that once worried me.
At 16 I can remember the anxiety I had rehabbing from my first knee surgery. A sophomore in high school, I had prepared my whole career for the chance to be recruited by college coaches. It seemed like all the planning and sacrifice I had done would be for nothing. I was nervous! Nervous of the uncertainty of my future in basketball. Truthfully I would have told myself to relax! Basketball is great but it isn’t everything. Enjoy the time you have with your high school team because those moments will one day be a distant memory. Even as a ex-collegiate athlete I can appreciate that advice.
Let’s not forget about being 16 and hearing a dreaded three letter word…SAT! Or depending on where you went to high-school the ACT. For me taking tests weren’t always the easiest. Even after two stints of Huntington Learning Center, the anxiety over taking one test that could determine the rest of my life was overwhelming. If I sat myself down then and really explained how the SAT was important but not the only thing colleges looked at I probably would have felt less stress before taking it. I would have told myself to do my best and don’t doubt my readiness and all the preparation I had up until that point.
As a 16-year-old I would’ve told myself to build more meaningful relationships. In high-school you are so focused on finding your clique and defining yourself in the hierarchy of popularity. Instead of struggling to entertain people I shared nothing in common with, I would have focused on building relationships with people of substance and drive. That is not to say my high school friends, whom I am still very close with, weren’t meaningful people. I would have focused on building more relationships with people who had strong characters and insightful personalities instead of those who were more focused on outward appearances.
When I was 16 I was deciding on where to go to college. I should have listened to my gut when making that decision. At 16 you don’t trust yourself enough to listen to your inner conscience, which is often the best judger of decision. As I mentioned before, I was looking to continue my athletic career in college and was torn between two schools just days before the official decision deadline. It had come down to the location of one of the schools and it being less than 30 minutes from my home. Despite the school probably being the better fit, I decided to go two and half hours away to a remote university that I would later transfer out of. I would have told myself to listen to my gut and not my head. It’s your gut that will give you a honest answer to your problem unlike your head which complicates decisions and clouds your judgement.
Looking back on my decisions as a 16-year-old I almost wonder how I was able to make it to where I am now. Some choices and decisions I made were good. Others were questionable and clearly reflected that of the mind of a teenager. If I had to do it all again I may have done a few things differently but for sure I would tell myself that tomorrow is another day and the mistakes you make now will not define you when you get older. I’d tell myself that being tall is cool and the boys will eventually catch up, being accepted is overrated so don’t be afraid to color outside the lines and one day you will meet Jay-Z at a Beyonce concert.