"It's just a game" and other things I'd tell my sixteen-year-old-self

Once a month, Chicago Now bloggers are given a prompt and challenged to write about said prompt in one hour's time. Tonight's prompt is What are three pieces of advice you would give to your 16 year old self?"

Sixteen is almost officially a decade ago for me. Wow -- that's terrifying, but so much of my living has been done in the last five years that I think it's possible the person writing this and my sixteen-year-old-self are completely different people.

I was a sophomore in high school when I was sixteen. I was playing my second year on the sophomore basketball team (by far the most fun I would have playing basketball in high school), I was getting my driver's license a few months late, I was learning choreography once a week all spring for my friend's quinceanera, I was probably reading Twilight again.

Sixteen was a good year, and there are still many shades of that good, soft, kind kid in me. But I wasted a lot of time stuck in my head, and if I could give my sixteen-year-old-self a few words of advice, it would be this:

It's just a game 

Nothing puts high school sports into perspective more than time and life. Right now, you think basketball is everything. You think if you make a mistake it's the end of the world. You're going to get so wrapped up in this over the next couple of years that it's going to suck all the fun out of the game that you used to love.

I know it's hard to see it now, but if you can just hang on to the fun and the passion and let the rest of it go, you're going to be so much better off. In a few years, you're going to lose your dogs and you're going to move away from home and travel and see more of the world, and all of that is going to help you realize that you should have had more fun with this game that you loved instead of letting it sink you.

Hold on to the little moments that make it worth it (friends, floor burns, defense) and let go of the things you make into monsters.

Don't worry about being the quiet one 

You spend a lot of high school and beyond watching yourself through other people's eyes, trying to perform for them. It gets exhausting. You already know what you do best, but you're too concerned with trying to be loud enough to realize it. You want to write, you want to tell stories, and to do that you have to get comfortable with the silence; you must get to know it intimately. Don't worry about being the quiet one. That title is always going to be yours. The sooner you embrace it, the quicker you'll get to where you want to be.

You don't have to be the loudest person in the room. Stop trying to perform. Stop trying to be anyone else's flavor. You will find the absolute best people when you finally get comfortable with your quietly vibrating soul.

Take a chance

You want to take a creative writing class. You want to maybe run 400s in track again. You want to talk to that cute boy in your psychology class (holla at me Ryan). You want to sink a game-winning shot.

Do. It. The best things you're going to do in life are taking wild chances. You can always make more money, you can always pick yourself up off the ground when you fall, but you can never get this time back. You're going to be so damn proud of the chances you take in a few years, but don't wait until then to go for it. Do what scares you and work your ass off for what you want, so that when the chances come barreling towards you, you're ready to grab on instead of diving out of the way.

If you liked this post, check out: Listen closely: I am not going to speak up and An open letter to anyone a little terrified of graduation

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