What have I learned in life?
An inspirational blog I subscribe to recently challenged its readers to write a letter to your 16-year-old self.
Honestly, the assignment seemed like a waste of time. After all, the past is in the past and the outcomes can only be recanted, but never changed.
Still I tried to have an open mind and sat down to write myself a letter about what I have learned so far.
And for those younger people who have no idea what I’m talking about, a “letter” is a hand-written or typed communication which is typically sent through the mail in an envelope. For this exercise, I decided to save myself the stamp.
Here’s the letter I wrote to a 16-year-old Craig:
I remember what 16 was like for you.
A shy, chubby, pimple-faced teenager, who often felt lost everywhere but in the comfort and security of his bedroom.
Like most other teenagers, you longed for acceptance, but instead found yourself virtually invisible. You tried so hard to be a blip on someone else’s radar, often compromising who you really were inside in order to secure relationships (however superficial).
It was a lonely existence you weren’t always sure you would survive. But I’m happy to say that you weathered the storm fairly unscathed.
Wisdom comes from experience, and the many lessons life tries to teach us almost daily. As I write to you, I hope you’ll see how your challenges and discoveries have made me into the person I am today. How they’ve shaped my perceptions, strengthened my relationships and given me a sense of what’s truly important in this life.
I wish I had the opportunity to tell you then all that I know now, for I’m sure it would’ve made your passage through that awkward and worrisome period much easier. After 42 years here on earth, here are but a few things I’ve learned:
- Give your time, energy and love only to those who are deserving and will reciprocate without any conditions.
- Popularity is fading. Value someone for who they are on the inside, not for the façade people so often create on the outside.
- How someone makes you feel is invaluable when compared to what they represent materialistically.
- Remember that everyone in life encounters their share of challenges, regardless of how easy their lives may appear.
- Find something you’re passionate about and never, ever let anyone deter you from following your dreams.
- Time is not infinite. Discover what’s important in your life and spend your time treasuring it.
So, what have I learned in life? A lot.
It’s vitally important to be happy with the person you are.
To not compare yourself to others, to not envy what your life is void of, to refuse to allow others to define who you are based on professional accomplishments and material possessions.
But most of all, to stay calm, listen to the voice inside of you and learn from every lesson you experience.
I confess that even today, I’m still learning. And one of the things I’ve discovered is we’re still doing okay.