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What I Wish I Had Known At 16

The things i would have appreciated in my teenage years.

BY Beryl karimi-La Patrona

Dec 06, 2022, 12:19 PM

Photo by

Ron Lach




I was 16 over six years ago and after being an adult for as long as I have been, I think of the teenage girl I was fondly. What would I tell my younger self? What would have made her teenage years easier? Here are some of the lessons I have picked along the way that I believe are worth sharing with girls coming into adulthood.

Your body is perfect.

I wish I had not spent too much time feeling insecure about my weight. At 16 you are the thinnest you will ever be. Your metabolism which slows down with age is at its peak at that age. I look at my photos when I was 16 and I wonder why I was always dieting. I was too tiny and I wish I had seen that and appreciated my body for what it was.

Studying hard is the most important thing you can do for your future self. 

Those young years build a foundation of who you are going to be. The work you put in there determines the career you will have and in extension the trajectory of your adult life. I wish I had taken high school more seriously. It is a very defining stage of ones life.

Don't date too soon.

I wish I had listened to my parents when they said the boys aren't going anywhere. It would have spared me a lot of heartbreaks. At 16 you just want to experience what everyone else is but what you don't realize is that you will have all the time in the world to explore every stage of your life. The boys will always be there. Give yourself the time you need to grow.

Relaxed hair is not easy to manage. 

I wish I had not relaxed my hair thinking my natural hair is hard to manage. It only made my hair weaker and it ruined the beautiful volume I once had. All my 4C hair ever needed was organic shampoo, the right comb and a fritz bottle because water is always key when it comes to managing hair.

People will always have something to say.

I wish I had understand this at 16. I was always worried about what people were saying behind my back and once you grow you realize that it doesn't matter. People will always have something to say. I just wish I had understood that the only thing that matters is what you think of yourself way earlier in life.

Feminism. 

I wish I had known Feminism earlier in life. It gave me a sense of power, a sense of agency, and at 16 it would have helped if I had known that my voice matters. As a black girl growing in a Patriarchal society I wish I had known how to advocate for myself and people like me earlier.

Consent.

I wish I had known that it is continuous, enthusiastic, and it can be withdrawn any time. In a world full of sex predators, every 16 year old should be educated on this and I wish I was.

To live in the present.

When I was in primary school I couldn't wait to go to high school and when I was in high school I couldn't wait to go to university. I wish I had known that I was making memories I would relieve all my life. At 16, I wish I had known that life gets harder the older you get. It would have allowed me to appreciate the present more.

Friendship is the loveliest of all loves.

We grow up hearing women are each others enemies but that is not the case. The friendship and the sisterhood you get from other women is going to be your greatest armor as you move through the uncertainties of life.