Dear 16-Year-Old Me,
This Road Called Life has so many jaw-dropping turns and dead-ends that it's really, really good you can't see any of them from where you are right now. Ignorance in this case is absolutely, positively blissful. While The Path cannot be changed, you can alter the amount of baggage you bring on this journey. To help, here are my 10 Tips for a Happy Life:
TIP #2 Stay true to you. The teenage you is the same you as the you you were in elementary school (stay with me here). The teenage you is also the same you that you become when you're older (and supposedly wiser). Never lose sight of her. The good news is, the young you is your beacon and your compass when the stormy seas arrive; she always knows what makes you happy. She also always knows the people and things you can trust. The bad news? She doesn't always know what's best for you. (That's why you need Tip #3.)
TIP #3 Develop a strong backbone. Define what is important to you and then follow your instincts. For example, if you're certain that marriage and family are what you want, don't waste your prime childbearing years in the wrong relationship. (I'm just sayin'.) If you don't want to give your life over to your work, don't give up all your hobbies and then blame your lack of them on the fact that you don't have the time or energy because you're always working.
TIP #4 Say NO more often. (This becomes easier after you have mastered Tip #3.) People-pleasing skills are highly over-rated.
TIP #6 Exercise every day. But not obsessively. Find things you enjoy and do them daily. Working out will keep your weight (and your stress level) down, your hormones in check, your mood more balanced — and your jeans in single digits.
TIP #7 Be conscious about what you ingest. Again, no need to be obsessive; just be smart. Your food should be of good quality, not processed, nor laden with chemicals or pesticides. If you're going to drink alcohol, have a glass of water before every drink. And please don't drink on an empty stomach. Or smoke!
TIP #8 Don't worry so much about what other people think of you. Because guess what — they're not thinking about you. They're thinking about themselves. So ditch the worry and just be yourself.
TIP #9 Kindness is king. Embrace what you love about you and don't get down on yourself for what you don't. Always, always, always be kind to others — but be especially kind to yourself. Always, always, always choose a mate that is kind to others — and who is especially kind to you.
TIP #10 Keep your naturally positive attitude and sense of humor. You're gonna need it.