Can you still remember how it feels like when you were 17?
My brother Aaron recently had his 20th birthday. I was 17 when he was born and he is truly a lovely bundle of joy for all of us. I searched my heart for a heartwarming and “cool” birthday greeting that an FB post can accommodate. I could give him an advice or two, being his “Big Sister.” Then I asked myself. What would my supposedly “wiser” 2014 self tell my 17-year-old self?
So here it is: TOP 10 ADVICE TO MY YOUNGER SELF:
1. Enjoy the time
At 17, I was in 2nd year college, taking major subjects at UP. I was also a youth leader, playing the keyboard at our local church and doing district activities on the side. I have signed up for membership on 4 campus organizations—(I know, I know, What was I thinking?) SVCF – A Christian Group, UP Repertory Phils. – an org for those who love to perform. There’s also Buklod Isip – an org for Psychology majors and Laong Laan for those of us who live in Rizal. Eventually I focused on one organization as I had to prioritize my academics. Looking back, I realized I may have so many activities and I wondered if I really got the chance to enjoy all these roles.
A photo I took at my Auntie Poyie’s home
So now, here’s what I’ll say: enjoy and savor every moment. This season is brief and will pass swiftly. Enjoy your family, enjoy having questions. Enjoy the view, the academic oval, the yearly fairs and the Lantern Parade! Enjoy your subjects, listening to your professors. Take lots of pictures, make friends! Smile more. Literally enjoy and fill your young heart with wonderful experiences. Hopefully, years after you’ll look back and tell yourself that those were good times!
2. Dare to Dream Big
Your life is unfolding. Like a blank canvass, the dreams you have now, will be the foundation of your tomorrow. Aim high and shoot for the moon! Focus on your limitless potential as a young woman. You can be anything you want to be – literally! Take classes that you dream of – music, art, writing even technical classes. Attend seminars. Learn everything you can and focus on your goal. If possible, travel, as it opens up your mind and your heart. Dream big because, as surprising as it may seem, it is God Himself who puts that dream in your heart. I am a dreamer when I was 17, I ticked a lot of my goals off my list at present, but I still continue to dream.
3. Everything is going to be OK
Yup, I remember being stressed at 17. I was worried about my subjects, my math class (math sucks in UP!), my PE – Aikido/Tennis class (I can’t believe I was worried about PE!), my professor’s assessment of me. I remember thinking how I can always do things better. I worried that my efforts may not be enough to pull off projects and plans. Now, I imagine giving my 17-year old self a hug and telling that girl, It is gonna be OK. Give it to God and Don’t worry about a thing. You. Will. Be. Just. Fine!
4. Do your best in everything
You are young and focus that energy on being your best version of yourself. As early as possible, cultivate that value for excellence in everything you do – house chores included. Put your personal signature in everything you do, be it an assignment, a boring report, or a term paper. Let your signature be a guarantee of quality work. Knowing that you gave it your all gives tremendous fulfillment at the end of the day. It’s the hallmark of leaders.
5. Choose your friends wisely.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Birds of the same feather are the same birds! (I know, my version is odd). Ensure that you meet regularly with people whom you see yourself as in the future, because chances are, you “download” in your heart and mind their attitudes, their beliefs, their perception in life. Jack Canfield, in his book, Success Principles stated that we are basically an average of the 5 people we meet regularly. So, who are these people that you interact with everyday? There is a verse that says: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” – Proverbs 27:17 Do your friends sharpen you? Do they encourage you to be your best self? If not, then maybe you should create new friendships who inspire you to be better.
6. You are beautifully Unique
You are beautiful just as you are. You are not mass-produced. You were created uniquely and there’s NO ONE like you in the whole wide world! Your relationships, achievements, bank account do not define you.
Your validation and source of security should come from the inside — Knowing that you are loved and created for a purpose should help you face the world with confidence knowing that God has something beautiful in store for you. Knowing this, decide to never settle. Raise your standards. In the areas of choosing the company you’ll work for, a business partner or even a lifetime partner, remember to guard your heart for God’s best for you. Perhaps I could talk about more of this in a separate blog.
7. Be Patient
You are young and prone to impatience. Patience is indeed a virtue. Even when you grow up, there will be a lot of waiting for answered prayers — jobs, the right person, a baby, business, profits. Sometimes, the most beautiful things need prayers and time – lots of both. Don’t rush things.
Enjoy every season, and find beauty in times when you have to wait.
8. Learn as much as you can.
Life is a continuous learning process. The sooner you realize this, the better. Resource materials are everywhere – libraries, books, the news, the internet, everyday stories, even family gatherings. Be an observer. Oh, imagine the benefits when instead of you learning from things via trial and error, you get the lessons straight up from people who learned it (oftentimes) the hard way! My dad always tells us that we can learn a lot from other people’s experiences. Be a learner. Find out what works. Ask tips from influential people in your family and community. You would be surprised that people are willing to share. Glean lessons from sad stories. Invest in learning and attend in good seminars, trainings.
Listen to your mom and dad. If you were blessed with responsible, loving parents, heed their advice. They want nothing but the best for you. Children are to honor their parents. It is the only commandment with a promise – that all may go well with you, that you may live long in the land God is giving you. Regardless of whether they were good or fall short in many areas, we are to honor them with our words, actions and the way we live our lives.
Find godly mentors and ask them questions. Be humble and teachable. Let them teach you. Value wisdom and knowledge.
9. Take care of yourself
Your mom is right when she told you to eat your vegetables. Be healthy. You only have one body. How can you achieve your dreams and help people when you do not have the energy to do what you want or have to do?
10. Love God above all else and the rest will follow
One of the best decisions I have made was when I gave my life to God and made Jesus my Lord when I was 16. A relationship with God is deeply personal. Lordship is an issue I have resolved in my heart and mind long ago. I have decided to surrender my life to God who created me. I found my value, my worth, my hope and my purpose in Him. Looking back, a lot of the “big” decisions in my life were made prayerfully and with faith. I have been spared from a lot of heartaches simply because I chose to yield my plans and simply obey.
I connected and met with a lot wonderful people with similar faith. My life wouldn’t be as rich and meaningful without these relationships.
Our world today is in dire need of people with conviction and values. Find your voice. Know your stand and be a lighthouse so others can find their way.
Now, these are advices for my younger self. We can never take back the time we lost BUT It’s never too late to start again.