Advice For 14-Year-Old Me

The Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned Over The Past 10 Years

Today is my 24th birthday, and with that, I am feeling rather introspective. I am reflecting on all the things I am grateful for, how far I have come in the last ten years and how much there is still to go. For every success I’ve had in the previous ten years, there is a list of 100 mistakes and failures; for every happy moment, there are the contrasting dark and lonely moments I’ve experienced.

This is neither good nor bad; it is just life, and with these experiences comes a list of lessons I wish I knew when I was 14. So here is a letter to 14 year old me of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the last decade.

Me giving a speech at my Barmitzvah

Care less about what others think of you

You spent so much time worrying about if other people like you that you did not have any time left to focus on if you like yourself. And unfortunately, the answer was no; you did not like who you were because the image of yourself and your self-value was 100% based on what you thought others thought of you.

This mindest opens you up to an unessaccary amount of pain. When your self worth is based on others, a simple comment can dismantle your self-esteem; not getting invited to a party will send you down a spiral worrying if people just hate you.

This mindest limits your enjoyment and passion because even if you find intrinsic value and joy in an activity, if that activity is not deemed “cool” by your “friends”, then it isn’t. Instead of spending your time on things you love, you’ll do things you hate to impress people who don’t care about you.

You might think certain people hate you or find you annoying but they don’t really; they are merely going through the exact same struggle of getting people to like them. You would care so much less about what others think of you if you realise how seldom they did, because they are spending all their time, like every other human, worrying about if others like them.

Take this as permission to not make your happiness and self-worth dependent on others. Find intrinsic joy in yourself, do the things you enjoy with passion and zeal, stop trying to impress people and become comfortable in your own skin. And if people around you don’t like that, don’t worry; there are 8 billion people out there, there is a tribe of people interested in the things you are, who are passionate about the same things you are, who like you for who you are. Find and care about those people.

Deep relationships are what makes you happy

Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

You are going to come across many challenges and opportunities over the coming years. Things like exams, startups, projects, and work will consume 100% of your attention and energy. It will be great; you’ll enter into a state of flow where time just seems to melt away, and you’ll accomplish a lot in the process.

However, when you walk out of your exam after a two week hibernation period in the library, you’ll feel a little empty because you neglected the thing that brings you the most joy in life: deep, meaningful relationships. It is the time you spend giving to your close friends, going on crazy adventures, or just sitting around playing board games. These are the moments you will enjoy the most, and these are the moments that will bring you real joy.

Yes, work will consume you at times; this unavoidable and can be a good thing but take a moment to call a close friend when you can, take 15 seconds to send a meme or a simple “howzit”. Then, prioritise making time away from work where you can give 100% of your attention to being present with friends and family.

Chill the f*** out

Photo by Nick Abrams on Unsplash

Intensity and urgency are incredibly powerful traits and can help move you closer to your goals. However, unrelenting intensity and urgency will only lead to burnout. Rome was not built in a day; similarly, nothing you do will be an overnight success; it takes time and patience.

So if something is taking longer than expected, that is fine; if you fail and wasted countless hours in the process, that is fine; if achieving your goals takes years instead of months, that is fine. Life is a marathon, not a sprint; it is the consistent work you put in day in and day out that moves you closer to your goals. Consequently, don’t make your happiness dependent on the outcome of goals; focus on enjoying the process above all else.

Sprinting is needed at times, but when you do nothing but sprint, you lose sight of the bigger picture.

Stop supporting Arsenal; they are only going to break your heart.

It does not matter the players they buy, Ozil, Lacazete, nor Sanchez, it does not matter if Wenger is in, or Wenger is out. It does not matter if they are top of the EPL, and there is simply no way they can throw the league this time!!! (2016)

They will only let you down; they will throw games in a way that will make you throw your chair at the TV and throw leagues, cups and everything between. Every year you will say this will be our year! This season will be different, but deep down, you know it won’t.

Save yourself the heartbreak, get into cricket or watch competitive bridge instead, you’ll be happier for it.

This post is part of a 30-day writing challenge I am doing. Every day for 30 days, I am posting an article of at least 500 words. If you notice that I miss a day, I will buy you lunch.