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By Dawn Miller

Local educator, artist and writer. 

Image by Tyler Nix

If I could travel back through time, I’d visit myself when I was 16 years old. Shy, awkward, unsure 16-year-old me. 

I’d grab that girl by the shoulders and tell her things I wish  I'd known at her age.

You are beautiful. Although full of self-doubt, you are more beautiful than you know. Inside and out. When you’re older, you’ll look back at photos of yourself when you were younger and say "Wow!"

"When people show you who they are, believe them..."

The most interesting people are the most unusual. Outside-of-the-box, no colouring-within-the-lines people are often the most successful. Quirkiness is good. Don’t be afraid to be your authentic self.

Being the same as everyone else can be boring. True beauty comes in all sorts of packages (gender, colour, culture, abilities, size). Don't be pressured to be a copy of others. Differences make people memorable.

Popularity is Over-Rated. We all need to feel we belong, to have friends, regardless of age. But having even just one friend who is loyal and has your best interests at heart is worth more than having loads of superficial "friends" who won't be there to back you when times get tough. 

If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up about it. Learn from it. Errors are unavoidable. Make them a learning experience. Your mistakes become part of the fabric which shapes the future, smarter you.


You are Enough. If a boy/girl wants you to change in order to please them, ditch them. Healthy relationships are made of two people building each other up, not one person breaking the other person down. 

Avoid toxic people. The poet Maya Angelou, wrote, “When people show you who they are, believe them..." If someone makes you feel inferior or fills you with self-doubt—they’ve shown who they are. They won't change. You deserve better. Move on.

Nobody cares as much about how you look as you think they do. It’s true. Trust me. And social media is just that - media. It's not reality. Photoshopping and photo filters create unattainable levels of perfection. Show your freckles.

Older people know what they’re talking about. Not 100% of the time, but at least listen. Times have changed, but issues you’re grappling with are like ones they’ve dealt with (peer pressure, stress, body image, relationships). Be open to their perspectives.

Travel. The world’s a big place. Travel broadens your mind and exposes you to new ideas, different cultures. Travel as much as you can as often as you can.

Listen to your gut. That little voice in your head or that niggling feeling in your stomach is your intuition telling you something important. Listen. Your intuition won’t steer you wrong. Don’t let others push you down a path you feel isn’t right.

Love yourself. You are amazing. You have more to offer the world than you can possibly imagine.

Be yourself. No one else can do it better.

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