What Would I Tell my 16-Year-Old Self?

What Would I Tell my 16-Year-Old Self?

What would I tell my 16-year-old self is an article about being kind to my past self in the hope others are inspired to do the same.

I remember vividly what it was like to be that teenage boy. It’s a surprisingly tough decade.

You’re trying your best to look confident, cool, and strong. However, what you don’t realize is that all those traits are earned. It’s not fair to put that pressure on yourself that you will have them as a teenager.

The truth was I hadn’t got a clue, who I was, what I was capable or how to do anything of value in the real world whatsoever.

Somehow at 16, you’ve got to have it all figured out.

Your worldview needs to be perfect.

What Would I Tell my 16-Year-Old Self?

At 16 I thought I’ve got to be smart and know what to say at all times. The most effective way for you to do this is to constantly remind yourself that other people are stupid and pathetic. Especially teachers and parents. Absolute morons. They are basically the enemy.

I had a strong sense of entitlement. I couldn’t afford anything, but I certainly deserved to wear the best clothes with the most expensive labels. Anything else is not fair.

I hadn’t got a clue about sex but felt at every available opportunity I could talk about sex like I was some sort of sex expert, simply to mask the fact if I was with a girl I was absolutely clueless about what to do.

I seemed to think my opinion really mattered. Despite the fact I wasn’t earning money, couldn’t vote, and had no understanding of the political world, economics, society, or infrastructure.

I never raised a child, owned a business, drove a car, had any qualifications, or even had a proper job, but somehow, I knew best about all situations at any given time.


As a 16-year-old-boy, now looking back it’s very clear I knew basically nothing and at the same time felt like I really mattered.

16 should be a time of learning, being humble, and discovering. But instead, it’s a time of you feeling like you constantly need to validate yourself and show the world who you are.

You’re so far away from showing the world who you are and what you can do that a lot of time as a teenager, I’d experience embarrassment, frustration, and self-loathing which was of course projected on others as much as possible – a coping mechanism that many teenagers seem to embrace.

Would I Even Listen?

The idea of telling my 16-year-old self words of wisdom is laughable. No 16-year-old version of me would listen and even if they did, they wouldn’t have the mindset to embrace it and follow through. Undoubtedly it would fall on deaf ears.

Me talking to the 16-year-old version of myself is me being at peace with how I was. It’s about finding resolve so that when I become a father I don’t want to bring these teenage issues along with me as emotional baggage.

The Forever Teenagers

I see adults all the time who are basically still the teenage version of themselves trapped in an adult’s body. In some cases, they are not even the teenage version of themselves but the child version of themselves.

The past does not go away until it is resolved. This is a truth of life.

Think about how often you see someone get angry when they don’t get what they want. They get aggressive and act irrationally.

Think about where you’ve seen that behavior before, and it will take you back to how children display their emotions when they don’t get their sweeties.

A lot of adults still act with the same behavior and coping mechanisms that they learned as a child. Some people truly never grow up.

If you have patterns of anger, it’s not because that’s who you are, it’s because you’ve never grown up.

They confuse HOW they are with WHO they are. They say things like “this is me, this is who I am”, somehow thinking that this gives them a free pass to be an asshole. Very convenient logic I must say.

I wrote an article Learn Who You’re NOT to Unlock Who You ARE which goes into the concept of who you are a bit more deeply.

So what do I have to say to my teenage self?

I would sit down with him and say to him that the majority of people don’t care about who you are at all. They don’t care about what you do, how you do it, or why you do it.

Then there are a small number of people that do care and these people fall into two groups:

Group one is people looking for a distraction from their own shit.

Group two is people who genuinely care about you. However just because these people genuinely care about you does not mean that their opinions matter. People that love us often give us terrible advice.

In summary nobody’s opinion of you matters at all. Accept for one, yours.

The problem with your opinion however is that you think you know better. You’re completely unfair to yourself and have pretty dumb expectations of how you should be.

Your values are all messed up and honestly, they are not even your values.

They have been projected on you by everyone around you. You need to let go of them. Really that’s what your teenage years are for. Coming to the realization that you are here to find a way for yourself. To find your feet and learn how to walk into adulthood.

You don’t have to be cool, confident, or have all the answers. You just need to know that you are constantly learning, everything is temporary and you have no idea who you are or what is truly important to you.

Lost wasn’t just a TV show

When you’re a child you are lost but found by others. When you are a teenager you are still lost but have the ability to search for yourself.

Your job as a teenager is to let go of all your misconceptions, to stop acting like you know everything, to learn, and to discover. Everything else at this point doesn’t matter, so stop acting as it does.

In 20 years’ time, it’s not going to matter that you went to some party or that you wore a certain piece of clothing or that you lost your virginity at a certain age.

Not only will all of that stuff not matter, but you’ll also realize just how stupid and pointless it all was and the only reason you cared about any of it was that society told you it was all very important.

You will realize society lied to you and that you were manipulated for the fool you were. You were completely taken advantage of.

The most important thing to note is that none of it was your fault.

This is the difference between being a teenager and being an adult.

A teenager is a victim of this world. An adult is accountable and has a moral duty not to be a victim but to be their own person and instead of reacting to respond appropriately.

Some people just react, forever the victim. That’s how you recognize a teenager in an adult’s body.

Each thought, each emotion, and each situation is yours, created by you to serve you so that you may grow and serve yourself in the best way.

It’s the attachment to the teenage self that causes the resistance in our lives that prevents us from moving forward.

To be kind to yourself takes courage, it is an act of bravery, because it requires you to be vulnerable.

Let go of the shield that tells you that you know who you are and you know best. Be naked in the reality of life. Know that this is your true state and it’s the same for everyone.

In being kind to yourself you’ll learn to be kind to others. You’ll stop judging them and in doing so stop judging yourself. For the first time in your life, you will be fair, truly strong, and ready to take on the world and all that it throws at you.

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