Dear 15-Year-Old Me,
You’re probably on the phone right now talking to one of your friends and hoping mum’s not listening on the other line. One day you’ll have your own mobile phone – and nothing like the Nokia 3310 that doesn’t even fit in your pocket!
When school opens in a few weeks time, you’ll be back out in the country with all your friends and classmates. You’re dreading it a little. In fact, every time you get to that first “Chengelo” sign, you get that sinking feeling in your stomach. One day you’ll look back on these boarding school moments as some of the best and funniest memories of your life. I know you can’t wait to leave school right now, but slow down and take it in – I promise you’ll miss it.
A lot of your friends will move on and lose touch. Most of them will be on social media so you’ll still have a way to connect but it won’t be the same. A bit like hi5, but way more complicated!
Some of your friends will stick though. You’ll think it’s crazy that in your thirties they’ll have known you for over half your life! You’ll all live in different parts of the world but you’ll continue to see each other when you can. You’ll still speak over the phone and you’ll always laugh at the same silly stories you did as kids, only this time in adult bodies.
You will consider these your best friends.
Remember the other day when you said 30 was ancient? Well I’m past that age now so I guess you’re ancient! You won’t feel it though, not until you start to notice how much harder you’ve got to work to stay fit. Oh, and you will be nothing without your specs! Home will become your favourite place in the world which is ironic given how much you’re always trying to leave the house.
My advice, if you’ll take it (I know what you’re like!) … don’t expect to have everything figured out by 30. Don’t put that pressure on yourself because most people don’t.
You might struggle to find your place in the world. It may take a while to find your purpose but never stop pursuing it. Things don’t always go in the order we plan or the way we expect but that’s okay because your journey is yours.
Pay attention to the voice inside that guides you.
There will be many, many, many voices along the way. I can’t stress that enough. Sometimes it’ll leave you confused about which path to take but you will learn to recognise that one voice, God’s voice, that sets you back on the right path every time.
You will go through some hard times but they will make you strong. Some of the people you think are friends now will disappear but you will make new ones, the right ones for your life. You will discover that the best friendships are the ones where you can be your complete, messy self and they love you anyway. Surround yourself with friends who push and challenge you to be better – friends who inspire you with their excellence but also don’t spare you with their honesty.
Don’t try to keep up with people for the sake of appearances. It never ends well. Start learning how to get your money in order, however little you have right now because those lessons will serve you for life. Debt isn’t cute and you should stay away from it at all costs.
Remember when you thought your life was over because a relationship ended or someone stopped being your friend? You will heal. Broken hearts mend and you will fall in love when you are truly content with yourself. Oh and those boys you’re so eager to impress right now?! … you’ll look at them in years to come and wonder why you were trying so hard.
Take some time to figure out what you’re really passionate about before you jump into a career.
What makes you tick? What gives you energy? Your career choice isn’t a life sentence – it’s okay to change lanes if something isn’t working. Sometimes life is about trying until you discover what works. There’s no shame in that.
Whenever you can, learn from people who have experience. Find a mentor or speak to more people you look up to. Listen to mum and dad. They know what they’re talking about!
The other day you said you wished you were older. Relax.. enjoy being 15, you will never be this age again! Instead of fighting with your siblings, enjoy the fact that you can play football with your brothers and share a room with your sister. One day the fact that you’re all living under the same roof will only be a distant memory.
Instead, you will live in separate homes in different parts of the world and have separate lives of your own. Getting together will require lots of planning and even flights across the world.
One day your dream to travel will come true and it will open your eyes and your mind. Don’t ever stop doing that. Get to know people who are different from you and embrace the beauty of diversity.
Read! Challenge your mind and your own ideas.
Explore the reasons why you believe what you believe – don’t just take people’s words as your truth. Remember that friend who told you you had “too many principles?” Hold onto your convictions and never change yourself for anybody.
Love people, and not because everyone else thinks they’re cool. Believe it or not, “cool” fades too. You know people right now who are being bullied in school but you go along with it by laughing or pretending not to know. It’s okay to speak up for others, even when it not the “in” thing or you think it doesn’t affect you. That will serve you well in future. Don’t give too much weight to other’s opinions – most of them are kids just like you!
You will grow in confidence in your abilities and one day you’ll stop caring what people think. Until then, keep your loved ones close and tell them you love them. Celebrate each day because life truly is short.
Oh, and one last thing…
When you graduate high school…
Go to your formal dinner!!!!!!!!