Note to my 16-year-old self: Don't follow the crowd

Tonight’s blogapalooza challenge:  What are three pieces of advice you would give to your 16 year old self?

When I was 16, I thought I knew everything.  High school graduation and the beginning of college couldn’t come soon enough.  I thought I was ready to take on the world.  When I think of some sage words of advice I could give my 16-year-old self, there are probably enough quips and quotables out there for an entire blog series, but for practical purposes, and to align with tonight’s challenge, I’ll narrow it down to just three.

  1.  Popularity is overrated.  in high school, everyone wants to fit in.  When you get to college, you’ll find that a lot of the people who were popular in high school may be a bit lower on the totem pole now.  Being voted most likely to… (insert some prestigious honor hastily scrawled in your yearbook) doesn’t mean much when you’re an adult.  Human approval is fleeting.  The smallest misstep (or perception thereof) could turn the masses against you.
  2. This one’s kind of related to No. 1:  Get to know people that are not your usual crowd.  Go talk to some one you might not normally associate with, especially if that person is considered an underdog.  You never know how much good you could be doing by reaching out.  And you’ll be enriched in the process.
  3. If you’re a leader, take it seriously and use your influence for good.  Whether you’re Student Council President or just the person your friends look to for advice or to make plans for the weekend, consider how you can set a positive example and empower those around you to make their corner of the world a little better.  If you are in a position of influence, be the kind of individual whose lead you would be proud to follow.

Perhaps I should conclude with a caveat that advice to teenagers should be dispensed with caution, as such counsel is seldom heeded.

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