What I’d Tell My 16-Year-Old Self

Photo courtesy of    Grace Wu

Photo courtesy of Grace Wu

It’s only been five years, but 2013 seems like a lifetime ago. I can’t help but cringe at pictures of a 16-year-old me – not just because of my brows, but of how I acted and saw myself at the time. I was a lot of things at 16. The best friend, the go-to wingman, and even the ever infamous third-wheel. Looking back, it’s absolutely hilarious.

What’s funnier – I still am a lot of those, five years later. But living that life, it was the farthest thing from comical. I felt embarrassed and cheated, to say the least. It sucked that people only saw me as this girl’s best friend, or that boys only talked to me because they wanted to get with one of my girls. It was frustrating and it made me feel worse about myself; as if I didn’t already.

My head was filled with even more doubts and insecurities that I couldn’t find it in my heart to believe in myself. Compliments and encouragements from family and friends were going in one ear and out the other. It even got to the point where I pushed everyone away and resorted to eating my emotions, which then led to even bigger insecurities. It was a vicious cycle I couldn’t seem to escape. To say that I was not in the best mindset at the time was the understatement of the decade.

But then, there’s always tomorrow. And I did escape. I picked myself up and learned to slowly build up my confidence. I changed and I grew into the woman I am today, so I can’t help but still be thankful for those times. It’s true that hindsight is 20/20 and if I could go back in time, here’s all I have to say to my 16-year-old self:

Don’t worry and don’t hurry. 

The five years would fly by; it’s ridiculous. By then, you’ve had memories of crying over a lot of guys that will never be worth it, and laughing a lot more because of those that matter. You couldn’t be more wrong, thinking that no one will appreciate you. Because in the next five years, you’ll find yourself surrounded by people that see how beautiful you are, inside and out. Because you are.

Because I am.

Now, at 21, I’ve never felt more secure with everything in my life. Two decades down and I’m finally learning to work on myself. I’m living the best life that I could for me. One of my biggest mistakes was that I never really let myself heal properly. It was either I brushed it off as nothing, or never confronted it at all. I failed to tackle the pain head-on that I ended up being bitter.

This time, I’m taking my time. I just let myself go through the motions. I let myself think, feel, speak and act with no apologies. I let myself internalize compliments, even if I have to consciously remind myself. Inch by inch, I’m breaking down the barrier that took every fiber in me to put up with no rush and no pressure.

But isn’t that living is all about?

To continue learning. To continue evolving. To just continue. Not letting my stumbles and failures define the person I’m working on to be. I’m still far from the woman I strive to be, and that’s alright. I breathe in every moment that comes my way as a learning experience; an opportunity to grow and be better than I was yesterday.

So, my advice to you all? Don’t worry and don’t hurry. Learn from your mistakes, do and be better – and live with no regrets.

Words by Abee Legaspi 

Cola Paclibar