When I was 13 years old the last people I wanted to get advice from were my parents. My reality was that I had the world figured out and they didn’t know anything. I remember they would try to give me pieces of well thought-out advice but I half listened. Looking back, I think the only people I ever listened to were my peers, my coaches, and athletes I wanted to be like (my role models). Over the course of my 15-year athletic career I learned some very valuable lessons (most of them the hard way) and if I could go back, here are the five things I would tell my 13-year old self:
Don’t Fear Failure, Learn From It
Losing is hard. Dealing with an injury is hard. Hurting a friend is hard. Getting a bad grade in a class is hard. Although hard, you will learn something from each failure. I’m not saying you have to put on a smile and laugh every time you fail. But, you can acknowledge where you fell short, focus on what you can improve, and keep moving forward because failures will continue to happen to you for the rest of your life.
Surround yourself with people that are better than you. In fact, seek out people who will challenge and push you to become better than you ever thought you could be–in sports or in life. Are you sitting on the sidelines because a new teammate just took your center mid position? Work harder and earn it back. Watch and learn from those around you…always.
Confidence is Everything
As much as you wish you could snap your fingers and be confident, it doesn’t work that way. Confidence is built with practice and time. Everyday, keep track of your accomplishments. Even if it’s something as small as waking up when your alarm goes off. You are awesome and you need to constantly recognize all the great things you are capable of. Believe me when I tell you that confidence is everything! If you step into the arena more confident that your opponent, you will leave triumphant. Trust me.
There is a lot of pressure around you and life can feel very overwhelming. I know you are constantly trying to balance school, sports, travel, and friends. Just remember, you have so much to be grateful for. Do me a favor and every day when you wake up, think of one thing that you are grateful for (the sun, a healthy body, friends, books, laughter). Get in the habit of recognizing how awesome the world is. After enough practice, you will start seeing every situation in your life as a positive and the “challenges” in your life will be easily surmountable.
You are the only you that has ever been…and ever will be. So, unapologetically BE YOU. Talk too loud. Work hard. Fight for what you believe in. Laugh at inappropriate times. Do more of what makes you happy. You don’t need anyone else’s approval to be yourself. Embrace everything you are and love yourself. And remember, everyone around you is being the best them that they can be so cut them a break and love their individuality as well.