my sixteen year old self

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I turned 21 in January. I always knew it would be a big birthday, if only because everyone tells you it will be. Legality and all of that nonsense. But it really was different. For me. Every year, I wait and wonder when I will feel like an adult. I'm not sure what happened this year, but something clicked. 

I feel old. Or rather, I'm starting to. I see now how I'm aging--not in a bad way, and I'm not mad about it, but it's different. I'm different. It's like I woke up this year and everything changed overnight. They say before a certain age, we can't process things the same--that age really does play a part in reasoning skills. And I think that's partly true. Two years ago, I didn't give a second thought to many of the things I did. But now I see it: like that movie Limitless. I see more of the possibilities and scenarios, I take better caution and invest with better purpose. 

Lately, I've been thinking about the things I'd tell my sixteen year old self if I could go back in time. Just little things. Not regrets, per say, but things I've learned and realized, over the past 5 years. And I'd like to share them here. Maybe you can relate to them, too. 

1. It's okay that you're better at talking with adults than kids your own age. There's nothing wrong with you. In fact, you'll have some of the best conversations you can imagine, and you'll learn faster, trust me. 

2. Imitation is a form of flattery, mom was right. Just get over it and smile.

3. You can't do everything, but you can do anything. Don't limit yourself and don't let people tell you who you are or what you want to be. It's time for you to make your own choices. 

4. You should dump the high school boyfriend a lot sooner than you do. Just saying.

5. Don't stop writing, even when you feel like your words aren't good enough. They are. You are. And you'll realize this one day. 

6. Your freshman year of college will not be the highlight of your life. There will be more fun times, trust me--they just won't be as risky. That's a good thing. (That's said, have fun. You've been too uptight for too long!)

7. Your circumstances can't change your happiness level. You're the only one who can do that, so keep trying. Wake up thankful for another day and start over. 

8. Don't wear cut-off black tights under jean shorts. Ever again

9. You will question God's existence and your faith, but it's okay. You're not perfect. What matters is that you keep seeking. 

10. Finish the book. The hard part is almost over, and soon you will cry tears of joy at the ending. And oh yeah, you will publish it. Even if it's cliche and only 12 people buy it. 

11. Stop comparing yourself to others. God made you who you are for a reason. Be proud of it and don't be afraid to be yourself in public.

12. Friends will come and go for you, and even at 21, you still won't feel like you found the right ones. The best you can do is enjoy the ones you have in the moment. Those glimpses of true friendship are what make it all worth it. 

13. It's okay to be a dreamer. It will help you keep reaching, keep hoping, and keep looking for the good in people. Disregard those who say you live in grandiose ideas. Those crazy dreams will push you to turn thought into action, time and again.

14. Fyi, you really should have taken up Nan's offer to learn cooking that one summer. 

15. Know when to stand up for and be true to yourself. Forgiveness is powerful, but there comes a time when you have to do what's best for you and let go.

16. Just laugh at yourself already. 

What would you tell your sixteen year old self now?