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Learn to Love the Process | #YoungerMe

girl sitting on the ground

Our #YoungerMe project continues with one millennial’s words of wisdom, strength and guidance to her younger-self, getting ready for high school.

Dear 14-Year-Old Me,

Right about now, you’re probably just hanging out in class trying to overcome a severe case of senioritis. There’s one month of grade eight left and you can’t wait to leave the confines of this place and get to high school, or as you like to call it, “the real world.” You’ve never been one for patience after all. You get a bit better with age, but both of us still need to work at it.

Many people refer to high school as the best time of their life. Personally, I don’t understand it (and neither will you). Try to escape the idea of having a number of “best years” in your life and instead treat everyday as an opportunity for evolving yourself into a stronger, smarter, and more confident individual, because everyday is a new adventure and you should treat it like one. It’s not always easy, but finding out who you are, is a worthwhile and lifelong process. I really believe it’s the most important thing you can do. Once you figure that out, all the other pieces fall into place.

But before I pat you on the back and tell you everything will be ok, I’d like to bestow a few lessons I learned going through the experience myself. If I could, I would be there by your side, guiding you through the process, however the challenges you face helped shape you into the strong woman you are today. So keep on rolling with the punches, with the following advice in mind:.

1. Live for Yourself

I know how you feel. Restricted. Controlled. Like you don’t have an opinion. You grow up under the influence of an older brother who convinces you to be a bit of a tomboy. But because of this, you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty. And that’s a trait you should wear with pride. Still, it’s important to make your own decisions. If our parents didn’t let us take the reigns on our post-secondary education, we’d probably have ended up studying engineering. Fortunately, we don’t take that route.

“…search your heart for what interests you.”

Instead, search your heart for what interests you. There’s this phenomenon going on in the workplace nowadays that focuses on doing what you love. When you do what you love, you’re more motivated to find a way to make it profitable. So here’s some advice: be realistic; focus your goals; and most of all live for yourself.

2. Don’t Worry About Falling in Love Too Soon

The idea of high school love, fast breakups, not knowing what you want from a relationship, and worst of all, falling in love and getting hurt, may leave you jaded. I want to stop that from happening before you almost let go of the best man to ever walk into your life out of fear. Being afraid is okay. We’re all afraid; heck I’m still afraid. However, it’s all about learning how to turn that fear of change into an appetite for excitement.

The right guy will come along. He’ll sweep you off your feet with his quirky jokes, annoying (yet typically accurate) logic, and sweet nature. Take note though, he won’t appear in your life until your early 20s. So pay close attention to all of the relationships – not just the romantic ones –that take place in your life. They all hold something of value – whether it comes in the form of experience, life lessons, or long-lasting friendships. Not to mention, you’ll learn more than you can imagine about communication and self-confidence.

“Being afraid is okay. We’re all afraid; heck I’m still afraid.”

3. Learn Self-Love

First, embrace your height, or better yet, lack of height. When you’re short, people seem to think they can walk all over you. Don’t let them. This is a hurdle that we’re going to face our entire life, and that’s  ok. Why? Because being short is amazing! How else can you sneak your way to the front of the crowd without anyone noticing? Embrace your stature!

Even though you’re about to head off to grade nine, some strange (yet generous) fate has gifted you the privilege of looking 10-years-old. Congrats. Ten years later, you look five years older. I hated that when I was your age as well. Now, I just whip out my ID with pride. Embrace what makes you different and learn to love it.

4. Stand Your Ground

Assertiveness is something both of us have always struggled with (you’re getting better at it though. High five!). You might act somewhat withheld at times and that can make you an easy target. Don’t let it. At this age you’re still learning what the word “assertive” even means, let alone how to present yourself in that way. Don’t worry, you’re not alone on that front. Just remember you are always allowed to say no.

“Don’t fall into the teenage trap of hating everything and everyone.”

5. Study Smart, Not Hard

Learn what works for you and don’t cram the night before. Trust me, it doesn’t do any good. Fortunately, 10 years from now you will be finished with examinations (instead, you’ll be working on your major research paper. Ahhhhhh!). But I remember that bundle of nerves all too well, and sadly, that feeling doesn’t ever go away. (Attached with this letter is my copy of A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science [Even if You Flunked Algebra] by Barbara Oakley. Pick it up and give it a read).

6. Be Kind To Your Parents

As a teenager, you think you know everything. You don’t (you might though if you follow lesson five). So listen to your parents every once in a while and be kind. Be thankful for what you have. Don’t fall into the teenage trap of hating everything and everyone. It’s not worth it. Give your parents some slack. They worked really hard to give you and your brother a great life. After all, the worth ethic you adapt in a few years is partly inspired by them.

Now that I’ve exposed a few secrets of the future and probably altered our fate (hopefully for the better), I would like to bid you farewell. But before I do, never forget one thing: everything will be ok in the end. The world constantly feels like it’s ending in high school between broken hearts and failed grades, but it’s not. So stick to your guns and know that you’re going to kick some ass in the end.

Yours Truly,
24-Year-Old Me

What advice would you share if you could travel back in time 10 years from now? Be a part of Project: #YoungerMe. Check out our terms and style guide, then submit your letter here. Or simply share your thoughts in the comments below! (And be sure to use the hashtag when tweeting us @reply_mag and sharing on Facebook).