What would you say to your teenage self? It’s a question that every adult has asked himself or herself at some point in his or her life. We all have regrets and we certainly all have things we wished we would have done differently. While there are certain things that are particular to my own experience that I’d like to change, I also feel that there are certain things I’d say to myself to which anyone can relate. Below are some of the things I’d say to my seventeen year old self.


Be Kind

I was not a cruel teenager. With that said, I don’t remember that I often went out of my way to be particularly nice to people who needed it. While there’s something to be said for keeping to one’s self, I wish I could go back and tell myself to make more time for the people who needed it. Suicide is a leading cause of death among teens, and a few simple words of kindness can make a huge difference in some of those cases. I often wonder what I could have done had I gone out of my way to be kind to those who really needed it.


Don’t Judge

I wasn’t a terribly friendly person at seventeen, which isn’t uncommon. One problem I certainly had, though, was that I judged people too harshly. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to realize that you don’t know the struggles through which people go. You can also never tell how they’ll turn out. Today, my best friend is a person who successfully completed substance abuse rehab – a person who I would have judged far too harshly to ever speak to when I was younger. I wish I could tell myself that some books really don’t have to be judged by their covers.


Take Care of Yourself

Health is going to be a tricky topic as you get older, or so I would tell my seventeen year old self. I wasn’t in horrible shape at that point in my life, but I really could have done some things to make things easier on myself as I got older. Every time I feel a twinge in my lower back, I’m reminded that ninety percent of all teenagers don’t get enough exercise to stay healthy. If I could convince my seventeen year old self to hit the gym a little more often, I think I might sleep a little easier at night.



One in five teens suffers from anxiety. Among that number I can count my seventeen year old self, although that diagnosis would not come for at least another decade. If I could tell him one thing, it would be to try to find a way to calm down and relax. Yoga and exercise, as well as therapy, have helped me to turn my life into something far more enjoyable than I would have expected at seventeen. Getting a decade of my life back would be worth almost any price.


Cherish This Time

At seventeen, I was getting ready to graduate high school. This was not the best time in my life, not by a long shot. It was, however, one of the least complicated. I would remind myself to stop worrying so much about the future and to take things day by day. There are certainly things that I missed out on simply because I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on. Those are experiences that I will never get back.


You can’t change your past, but you can help others to change their present. The things we wish we could tell our younger selves are reflective of the lives we live today. If we can take that information and apply it to ourselves now, we can start to become the people that we had wished we could be when we grew up.