38 Things I Would Tell My 16-Year-Old Self

Because Being an Adult Is Not All That It's Cracked up to Be.

Credit: Maureen Quinlan-Harmon

When you’re 16, you think you’re on top of the world. You think that you know everything and anything, can’t wait to move on from high school and get out of your parents house. You can’t wait to finally be on your own.

Then it happens. You finally become an adult, the one thing you couldn’t wait for.

You find yourself being in your early twenties, with more under your belt, but it wasn’t an easy ride to get there. A couple of jobs, a couple of bad relationships and here you are, snuggling under your covers, watching re-runs of Friends on Netflix, waiting for your boyfriend to get home.

I wish I could go back and tell my 16-year-old self so many things. I wish I could give her all the wisdom I now have, because maybe I could have saved myself from some of the things that happened.

If there was anything I could tell my sixteen year old self, it would be:

  1. Take really good care of your skin. It’s the only skin you’ll ever have, so please, at least take your makeup off at the end of the day.
  2. All that money you have been saving, save it. Stop spending it on every cute shirt you see in the windows of the boutiques, you don’t need another cardigan that is a slight shade lighter pink of the one you’re probably wearing.
  3. Don’t be enticed to open so many credit cards. Most of the time, the associates behind the counter have to ask you to open one. Just say no nicely and move on.
  4. 4. Don’t be afraid to do something that is good for you, whether it’s good for everyone else around you or not. This isn’t their life, it’s yours.
  5. That guy that you’ve been dating that has been controlling, yelling at you, thinking he has authority to tell you what to do? Dump him. Run far and I mean far away. Block his number, act like he never existed. Trust me, cut the cord early when you see the signs.
  6. The boy who took your virginity isn't worth the tears. 
  7. Pull up your boot straps and move on, sister.
  8. Don’t stay with somebody because you’re lonely and afraid to be by yourself. That only hurts them and it hurts you. They probably aren’t good for you anyways.
  9. Learn from your friends that are mothers. These ladies bore a child, manage their jobs, school, marriages and social lives all while raising a human being. They have wisdom, listen to them.
  10. When in doubt, call your mom. She knows everything.
  11. If you have a bad day, call your dad. He probably will tell you some crazy story of a lady he went on a date with, or some customer that made his day, or give you some Polish Zygadlo wisdom. He makes your day every time.
  12. Take yourself out to breakfast. It starts your day right, and there’s a peaceful feeling not being afraid to eat alone.
  13. Cherish the time you have with your siblings. Big or small, they look up to you, whether they show that to you or not.
  14. Don’t feel guilty about staying in on a Saturday night instead of going out. Sometimes, watching North Woods Law reruns with your animals is just what you need.
  15. Your coffee addiction will only get worse. Just embrace the fact that you will be addicted to caffeine, probably forever.
  16. Don't take shit from anybody. You're a Quinlan/Melucci/Zygadlo. We were bred to kick ass.
  17. I can’t say this enough, save your damn money.
  18. Take care of yourself. Go on walks, run if you want to. Go to bed at a decent time. You’ll thank your older self later.
  19. You’re going to gain weight when you move out. Work out, eat well. Trust me.
  20. Stop eating so much shitty food. You’ll all of a sudden go from a size eight to a size twelve/fourteen and you won’t realize it until you can’t button your jeans.
  21. You’re going to have your heart broken. Whether it’s a boy, a fall out with a friend you thought you were close with, that job that you wish you got. It’s life, it’s going to happen. Take it for the lesson it was and move on.
  22. The boy who writes you love letters from boot camp is a liar. Listen to me on this one.
  23. You aren’t fat, you are athletic. Not everybody has the calves you do. Stop shitting on your body.
  24. You are beautiful. Believe the people who tell you this.
  25. One day, all of a sudden, you’re going to go from a size B to a size D cup. Big boobs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
  26. At some point, you have to realize you are an adult and responsible for your own actions. Stop blaming your upbringing for every single thing.
  27. Your best friends are your soul sisters, the other brothers you never had. They have your back no matter what. Love them, hold them close. No matter how far they are.
  28. Follow your damn dreams. Stop listening to the doubters around you. You are heading South, you are going to live your life by your OWN means.
  29. Shrug off any negativity someone throws at you for your life choices (unless it’s bad, like your ex boyfriend. In that circumstance, listen.) 
  30. Cut the toxic out. If it isn't good for you, move on. Listen to that gut feeling. 
  31. Gin n Tonics might make you sound like a grandma drinker, but they’re amazing. Papa wasn’t wrong.
  32. Going to therapy was one of the best choices you could have ever done.
  33. Read. It’s floss for your brain, because Facebook and Instagram is annoying sometimes.
  34.  Take a break from scrolling your phone so much. As cliche and annoying it may sound from all the people “taking a break” from social media, be present.
  35. Love your boyfriend that you meet when you’re 20. He’s the kindest, gentlest soul you’ll ever meet. Never let him go, he’s good for your soul.
  36. Work hard in school. Do this for you.
  37. There’s so much good in this world. Stop and smell the roses, literally. Wave at the cute old man whose talking to his friend on the park bench, get on stage at Legends and shotgun a beer with the singer on your 21st birthday. 
  38. Have fun. This is your trip around the sun, embrace it.
If there’s anything you can take away from these points that I’ve given you, it’s to live your own life by your own means. Move, travel, love yourself. You are the only person you have, stop giving yourself so much shit for being a little chunkier than you were when you were sixteen. You have evolved from a naive, brace-faced sixteen year old to a bad ass, taking names twenty-two year old who has gone through some shit, but that has only made you the person you are today, which is beautiful, strong and happy. You’ve made it past a whole hell of a lot, celebrate it. 
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38 Things I Would Tell My 16-Year-Old Self
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