Everything about the age of 16 is about self-discovery — who are we? What do we like? Who do we like? What should we do? These questions cause us to overthink and doubt everything we do. These turn us into different things, feeding more angst to our already raging teenage hormones. Sixteen was an age I’ll never forget, because that was when I started to struggle and figure out who I was.
At 16, I wanted to be everything. I wanted to be an adult. Parents were the enemies, and I thought I was always right. And since everyone else was wrong, everything felt that same way too. Arguments with my parents had me feeling like they were always out to get me. I’ll never forget the first time I snuck out of the house — well, sort of.
It was after school and my friend had band practice. They booked a studio in some sketchy place in Cubao (seriously, it was at the back of a dark alley) and I went with them. My parents even had to pick me up because I stayed beyond my curfew. I bet that experience was horrific for them. But in my head, I was just there for the music.
I’ve had a couple of bumps like this all throughout my high school life. I argued with my friends over boys, clothes, and Skins vs. Gossip Girl. I remember trying to live the life I saw on films, TV, and books. I remember getting frustrated with myself if I didn’t make it happen.
If I could talk to my 16-year-old self, I have a whole list of things to say.
First off, you are so problematic. You throw yourself into so many different directions, and demand so much from yourself. You want to be good at something, but can’t pinpoint exactly what it is. You decide to be good at everything, but you get mad when you can’t succeed at it. You’re too bratty. So much so that you forget to think about others. All you think about is yourself.
To my 16-year-old self, you dress really funny. You try so hard to make yourself look like an adult. No wonder mom always calls you out and laughs at what you wear. But really, who cares right? ‘Cause at 16, it’s called experimenting and it’s totally fine.
You’re always too hard on yourself. You don’t have anything good to say. You shoot yourself down in moments you don’t need to, unnecessarily comparing yourself to others. But really, who are they to you? You have too much time on your hands, but you aren’t using it right. I hate how preoccupied you are with trying to make everybody smile.
To my 16-year-old self, I want to hate you for all these things — yet I don’t. Right now at 23, I have nothing else to say but I love you. If it weren’t for all of this, and if it weren’t for your decisions, I wouldn’t have learned. I wouldn’t be who I am if not for you.
So to those of you who are 16 and finding so much fault in yourselves; take it from me and breathe easy. You have to learn to love yourself.