I am in an MBA program in London, England at the moment. As part of that program, at the end of every “module” (as they are called over here, otherwise known as courses or classes to the rest of the world), I have to write a reflection paper. Two modules wrapping up at the exact same time has resulted in what has felt like a month of solid reflection. I'm not kidding. I have literally felt like I have completed a deep dive analysis on every single aspect of myself.
This has ultimately turned into both a 20-page reflection paper and 8 pieces of advice that I wish I could have given my 16-year old self.
If I did magically have the ability to turn back time, this is what I would have said (in no particular order)
1- Having emotions (and strong ones at that) is completely OK.
You aren't always going to feel happy and positive. Sometimes you are going to feel sad and scared and pissed and overwhelmed. That's natural. It's perfectly OK.
2- Don't try and bottle those emotions up/shut them off/repress them.
They will always surface and the sooner you recognize and work through them, the better. Get them out. Write about them, go for a long walk, put on some music, whatever. But get them out. See WHY you are feeling the way that you are feeling and what you can potentially learn from it. I learned a lot from this day in 30 Days of Gratitude.
3- Stop beating yourself up. Stop judging yourself.
You are way too hard on yourself. You know the saying that we are all our own worse critique. That's especially true for you. So stop it!
4- Have love and compassion for exactly where you are right now.
Right in this moment. Right now. This very breathe that you are taking. If you feel great, awesome! Celebrate that! If you don't feel great. That's OK as well. What's important is that you have love and compassion for yourself with whatever you are feeling presently.
5- Don't take things so personally
This one and the next one come from the 4 agreements by Don Miguel Luis. We all live in our own minds, our own planets if you will. Our perceptions of pretty much everything varies depending on the headspace that we are in. We all operate from our own constructs of reality. So stop taking things so personally. 99% of the time what you are taking personally actually has nothing to do with you (I know that might be hard to hear young Maria, but you aren't the center of the universe).
6- Stop Making Assumptions.
A very wise woman in my life says that as human's we have a tendency to “make stuff up.” It's human nature to attribute meanings to things. We shouldn't judge ourselves for this (see item number 3), but what we should be aware of is the stories that we are telling ourselves.
7- Know that you are loved and supported in ways that you will probably never be able to fully understand.
I know that sometimes it's hard to see and feel, especially when you are down and feeling alone. But you are so loved, so adored, so guided and looked after. You are never alone.
8- You are only one thought away from a brighter future.
Just one thought! Forget about the past, forget about your worries for the future. Just be here, right now. Wherever you are at. And know that you're loved, you've got this and I love you.
That's what I would say. And then I would give myself a big huge hug.
I recently shared this with another friend and she had the great idea of completing this exercise in reverse. So the question to be asked is
What advice your 16-year old self would give you?
I think that might be the focus of my next blog, but first:
What would you guys say to your younger-self if you could? What advice would you give?
Read more from Maria on her personal blog –> JustMariaKV.com.