As I reminisced this weekend, on my now 25 years of life I thought back to what advice I would try to give to my younger self. What do I know now that I wish I knew back then, especially during that intense period of recruiting during my junior summer. So I went back, to imagine my 16th birthday. I know many of you are nearing it, so hopefully, you can learn something too. As always, let me know what you think!
This is really weird imagining you, pretending I’m speaking to you, going back to where you are right now mentally and emotionally. You’re so excited right now to be 16, but I know what is overpowering your emotions right now is anxiety. I want nothing more than to give you a hug right now and tell you that everything is going to be okay. Listen when other people tell you this because your wildest dreams will soon unfold. You spend so much time thinking and worrying about the future and are still working on it to this day. Try to be present in each day, each moment, because it goes by so quickly.
Things are about to get really hard for you. You will be pushed more than you can imagine, but you will come through it stronger than you were before. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I wish I could tell you it would be coming soon, but you gotta just hang in there. Keep working hard, and your head up. Be confident in yourself. I know this is very hard for you to do and it makes you uncomfortable. You shouldn't be afraid to be confident because guess what? You end up getting into a school that MILLIONS of kids only dream about going to, and on the field, you lead your teams to many, many victories.
Talk to people about your feelings, talk to mom and dad, your friends. They will all still love you. Stop closing off, keeping everything in, because you just end up hurting yourself in the long run. Your worth to people is not solely based on how you do in the classroom or on the lacrosse field. It’s hard to believe I know right now, but people like you for who you are so just be yourself! Lacrosse and school are long over and guess what? You literally still have the exact same amazing friends, that’s how I know. So stop pretending to be someone you’re not, you don’t have to worry, you will keep the friends you have and make new ones along the way.
Don’t let your shyness define you. Just because you can be a little shy doesn’t mean you can’t be a leader. Again, back to my previous points, do what feels right, speak when it feels right, and don’t worry about what other people will think (I know, easier said than done). People will listen to you if you use your voice, so don’t be scared to use it. You know what’s right and wrong, you know what should be happening on and off the field. Stand by what you know, what you believe, and if you fail it’s okay! I know, you don’t believe me, but you should. That’s how you learn, and getting over the whole fear of failure and perfectionism thing will REALLY save you some time in therapy trust me. Also, it will save you an ABSURD amount of tears after failing your lifeguarding test, which you retake and pass (most ridiculous memory that you will get made fun of for the rest of your life so avoiding that would be nice).
Continue to be kind, to everyone. Continue to dream, dream about where you see yourself in 10 years (wow that will literally be next year), dream about the goals you want to accomplish, really imagine it, all the details. Yes, the moment you get accepted to college is everything you thought it would be. Explore what’s around you, cities, trails, etc. Explore ideas and philosophies that differ from those you are accustomed. Not everything that is different is wrong or weird. You will learn though. People are amazing, learn what you can, everything you can from them. Keep learning in general, you will never know everything, just accept it now. You still don’t know everything. Mom will always be right so stop wasting your time. Be bold, be confident, be fearless. You will succeed and find happiness whatever you do, so stop worrying and just live more than anything. Be sixteen-years-old, you don’t have to be so serious all the time! It’s okay to let your guard down and get made fun of every now and then, it’s good for you. You can’t help it anyways, it happens. I’ll end this as you would likely say – Live. Love. Lax. (yeah, I was that kid)
Your 25-year-old self