Introspection is single-handedly one of the most powerful self-reflection tools we have.
It costs us nothing but ultimately earns us everything.
When I reflect on my life, I often have moments of introspection followed by clarity. They are sometimes chased with regret and remorse, but those are two emotions I don’t shy away from. That is why introspection exists—to release emotions that might have been trapped, pushed aside, or placed in a safe place until we are able to handle them.
I, of course, can only say this out loud because I am no longer a child or teen or young adult. I never reflected or utilized introspection when I was younger because I never had anything worth reflecting upon—or so I thought. When you are 16, your world lays directly in front of you. Living precisely in the moment—worrying little about tomorrow, as it should be.
But years can often add grace, and grace is best friends with humility—a partnership that tends to shy away from our younger selves.
So, what would I tell myself?
1. How kindness actually works.
I would caution myself to learn what true kindness is, and to first practice it on myself. For when we are kind to ourselves, we become more confident and clear of how it feels to receive kindness. We will then want to perpetuate that kindness forward and share that feeling of elation and warmth with those around us.
2. Tailor your words.
Remember that words have the ability to leave an impact that has a ripple effect lasting a lifetime. We all know how it feels when words are not used to lift you up. Craft your words carefully and remember that the sting of an ill-intentioned comment might not seemingly affect you, however in time, much like our experiences, our words can chip away at our happiness.
3. Spend time meaningfully.
We truly have no concept of voids and loss until we lose someone whose life had such an impact on us that their absence leaves a gaping hole in our hearts. Our loved ones are not permanent and will only be in our lives as much as we let them. Hug more often, create deeper memories, and make efforts to truly get to know someone. Learn how to be still and listen.
There is so much about life that we don’t understand and even more that will frustrate and anger us. Afford yourself the time to process change, be it good or bad.
When I look back at my 16-year-old self, I am reminded how quickly time makes an example of us by showing us its fleeting nature and complete disregard of how fast or slow we want it to pass us by.
So, 16-year-old me, I also want to applaud your bravery, stubborn will, tenacious spirit, complete disregard for failure, and fix-it mentality. In the last 20 years, I have launched two careers, created a beautiful family, had incredible adventures, bought a stunning home, and despite all odds, have learned to never take anything for granted.
For that, I owe you the world.