Lately I have been fortunate enough to work with some of America’s youth… the future of our lovely earth, the only hope I have of a potential retirement plan. I’m a soccer coach. And I think a mentor. But if any of the kids I coach become president, we are surely screwed. Haha. Just kidding. They’re great. But I would be scared. Just kidding. For real. I joke a lot.
These kids are brilliant. Like way smarter than I ever was. They are really good at soccer. They run faster than I did (do) and understand the game better than I did at that age. And they are only 15 and 16 years old.
The thing I love about them most is that they are dying to get better. They want to learn. They want to know what it takes to get to a good college. (on the field that is…I can’t help them with their Algebra). They also want to hear my stories about traveling around the world. And playing with superstar players… to which I say “why don’t you ask them what it was like to play with me?” … they’re usually confused.
But I have something in common with those players. They want to hear me talk. Which I think is fantastic. Because a lot of adults think they know everything. Hell, sometimes I think that too. But these kids know that they don’t, and want to know more. And I feel as though I have a lot to offer.
So I thought it would be cool to come up with a list of things that I wish I knew when I was 16 years old. I was thinking about doing a list of things I should have done differently, but we really can’t have any regrets from the past, we just have to use the knowledge we currently have to impact the life we currently lead.
I’m just hoping to give them a bit of a head start.
1. Love is whatever you think it is at whatever age you are. You’ll have people your whole life tell you that you’re too young to know what love is or you don’t know the person well enough or something along those very lines… this will actually continue most of your life. But they’re your feelings, not theirs. Go with how you feel until you don’t feel that way anymore. If things change, things change. But in the moment, it must have been love… (but it’s over now).
2. Be patient. We all have 100 things we really want to do right now. We really can’t do 100 things right now. But we can do 100 things during a lifetime. Do what you can at the time, continue to work toward what you want in the future and remember that not many things happen over night. Keep building.
3. Surround yourself with people that make you better. This one is difficult. If you can find like-minded people, that are goal-oriented and hard working and of course that treat you well, then those are the people to keep around. Everyone will have different goals. But if you can find people that are focused and help keep you focused, your journey will be more fulfilling and also a little easier. It’s harder to give up when someone believes in you.
4. Judging is for a guy in a robe with a gavel. Not for you, homegirl. Be nice. People are always going through shit that you can’t possibly know from seeing them in the cafeteria or at practice everyday.
5. Find good role models. Figure out why they are good. What do they do that makes the world better? If it’s nothing – Kim Kardashian- then find a new one.
6. Save your money. What the eff do you really need to buy at 16? Save to enjoy college. And to do stuff that’s fun when you’re old enough to actually have fun.
7. Put in your hours. And even if you think you worked “hard enough” there is always more you can be doing to get better at what you want to be doing in 10-15 years.
8. Be healthy. Obviously eat whatever you want because you can, but starting good habits when you’re young will lead to a much easier life style when you’re older. And you won’t crave Coke every damn day.
9. Don’t even dare waste time being mad at people. Being mad is a huge waste of energy, and unless they ran over your iPhone, not many things are as bad as they seem. If you can forgive, it makes your life easier.
10. Keep a journal. I would love to see some of my thoughts from when I was younger. It’s always good to be able to see where you came from and what things you thought were the worst moments of your life… that really weren’t that bad compared to having to file your taxes.
11. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. I can’t imagine growing up with Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and Snapchat and all these things that make it nearly impossible to believe our lives are sufficient. There is always someone doing something that is so much cooler than what everyone else is doing. Time spent worrying about mediocrity is time wasted in the quest to becoming fabulous.
12. Read books that you don’t have to read for school. If you can make reading a habit, you will be further ahead than most adults are now. Then when they talk down to you, you can reference a famous author and they won’t know how to respond. Boom. Just kidding. But knowledge does equal power according to some philosopher dude.
13. You won’t like this one, but most of the time your parents do know what’s best for you. Parents, you’re welcome. It seems like they’re out to get you sometimes. It seems like they don’t care about your happiness. But they do. Otherwise they wouldn’t keep you. Well, I guess it’s not that easy. But they do care, a lot. And they see the bigger picture, more than you can. So trust them. Let them in your process.
14. Make sure you’re doing what makes you happy. If what you do makes other people happier than yourself, it’s probably not right. It’s not supposed to be that way. Don’t get too caught up in what you’re “supposed to be doing” and get caught up in doing what makes you happy. At the end of the day, if you’re doing what makes you happy, there is a good likelihood that you will be happy.
15. Be active. Not sexually. Unless your parents okay it. I don’t know. Ask them. But be active and do exercise and joggings. Just be safe okay?
16. This is the most important one. Don’t let anyone tell you your dreams are stupid or that they can’t be achieved. Similar to love, it’s your life not theirs. You determine your success rate. If you believe you can do something, truly at your core, then go after it with reckless abandon. Don’t know what that means? Me either. But just jump in head first. With all your heart. Like you would with your iced coffee that you’ve probably been drinking since you were 13.
You got this.