What would I say to my 16-year-old self?

A young flower - such as I was

An article in the latest (April) issue of New Zealand’s Next magazine prompted me to think about what I would say.

The article is entitled ‘Letter to my 16-year-old self’ with letters from several prominent New Zealanders. Actor, 83-year-old Dame Kate Harcourt, former Miss Universe Lorraine Downes, Labour List MP Jacinda Ardern, singer-songwriter Jan Hellriegel and television weather presenter Tamati Coffey. All contributors had sage advice for their younger selves … advice that can only come with age and experience. Advice often ignored when offered to a teen.

“A very important realisation that will take you many years to understand is that you are the only person who will stop you from doing what you set out to do.

It is your voice in your head that will insist you aren’t good enough, smart enough or beautiful enough, when all around you your friends and your family can’t believe you are so self-disparaging.”

Jan Hellriegel, Next Magazine, April 2011

I hated my teen years – they were packed full of self-doubt. I’ve carried things said to me at that time all through life. Things like may father saying to me “You’ve got a big bum,”  as I stood before the hall mirror.

My confidence plummeted even further on a date with a boy I thought was really cool. He told me I’d probably be more attractive in my 30’s. Where on earth did that come from? Probably his mother … It didn’t stop him trying out his clumsy seductive approaches though.

So what would I say to myself?

Believe in yourself and trust your inner voice (not the self-critic). If it doesn’t feel right, if you feel uneasy or under pressure, your voice is probably right. Go with it. It really doesn’t matter what other people think.

Value your education … keep learning, keep learning, keep learning. Work hard giving education your best shot.

Follow your dreams and your passions – build on them, enjoy them, share your enjoyment with others.


Make goals and when you’ve reached them, make others. Never stop reaching for the stars.

No one else can make you happy. Happiness comes from within and from being true to your self. Being a nice person, a kind person, and an honest and generous person will make you even more happy.

Family is precious. You can never fully appreciate them until you find they’re no longer there – try! No one will ever love you as much as your mother and father, no bond is as strong as that between immediate family, even though it is sometimes tested!  Make sure you tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Hindsight is such a great thing …

True friends are precious. They are the ones who make you feel better about yourself, who help you when you are down, who are there for you no matter what. You can always count on them – they know they can count on you without question. And they’ll be with you right through life.

Remove all make-up before going to bed. Apart from cleansing your skin and giving it a chance to breathe overnight, smudged mascara in the morning isn’t a good look. Television lies – we don’t all wake-up with perfectly groomed hair and face.

Enjoy  sunshine in small doses and protect your skin, particularly your face, from the harsh rays. Not only will this help prevent skin damage but it also may help stall the inevitable process of aging. A leather look works best with leather.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, or compare anyone else to you. Comparing does you no favours and can make you lose confidence in yourself.

Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. Every major decision you make requires careful consideration – don’t be so damn impulsive!

Regard risks as opportunities – be prepared to take them.

Listen to your parents – they  have vast experience and are not stupid. They only want what’s best for you.

When you eventually have children of your own, enjoy every moment with them to the fullest. They’re not with you for very long.

Life is too short for darning socks.

Smile  – it lights up your face and brightens the day.

Take your sense of humor with you wherever you go. Laugh loud and laugh often – a day without laughter is a day wasted.

Follow your instinct – it’s usually right. Your bum is fine just as it is …


9 thoughts on “What would I say to my 16-year-old self?

  1. Pingback: Further note to 16-year-old self … « Striding out

  2. Pingback: Revisiting three favourite posts « Striding out

  3. Pingback: Meeting other bloggers « Joss Burnel – The Crowing Crone

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