Listen Up! An Important Message From Your Future Self.

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“Try everything that’s legal and safe. Really try things, you have no idea what you might miss if you don’t try it. It doesn’t matter if anybody else who you love likes the thing that you want to do, you should try things that scares you, things that are silly. Laugh as much as possible, travel and explore different things,” said Heidi Brewer.

Motivational blogger Richard Williams taps into this same wisdom in his video: Everybody Dies But Not Everybody Lives. He describes one study, in which 100 elderly people facing death in the hospital were asked to reflect about their life’s biggest regret. Nearly all of them said they regretted the things they didn’t do more than anything they did. They most regretted the risks they never took, and the dreams they didn’t pursue.

Sometimes it takes many years to come to this realization. Brewer wishes she had known it sooner. “When I was younger I always wanted to do the right thing and I think I cared too much about what other people thought was the right thing for me.”

The Cambridge dictionary defines fear as the strong emotion caused by great worry about something dangerous, painful, or unknown that is happening or might happen. This four letter word has made people stop doing things they used to like in the past; holding back their dreams and goals to follow the safe and common path that almost every teenager walks through.

My parents paid a lot for me to study abroad. I’m afraid of not getting into a really good college, maybe I will go to a good school but what if it is not enough?” fears sophomore Zoey Nguyen.

Dorm parent and Middle school principal Tiffany Robert explained how all through high school she used to worry about where she was going to college, and always thought about the next step in her life instead of living in the moment. Her advice to her younger self would be, “Just take a deep breath, enjoy every moment, the next thing will come, so don’t rush it and don’t miss out on what’s happening in the moment.”

Every grownup interviewed was asked if they regret the things they did in the past or the things they didn’t do, all of them agreed that taking risks and even making mistakes, moved them forward in life and wish they had more security in following their hearts.

“I’m afraid of not being satisfied with my goals and feel like I could have done more,” said senior Sabrina Nucciotti.

“Don’t take yourself too seriously, it took me a long time to learn that, the work is going to get done you have to take time to do the things that makes you feel happy,” said Brewer who takes yoga classes many times a week and finds it helps center her in the midst of a busy schedule. “I wish I had done more yoga when I was younger, I started it but I stopped.” 

Cambridge dictionary defines the word “regret” as unhappy feeling about something you did or were unable to do. One of the most common regrets in life was not traveling when the chance was there.

“I wish I had done more traveling when I was younger, now it’s hard to travel with the kids and a family. But there was always a reason why I didn’t, maybe there was something going on in the world that made me nervous about leaving the country,” said Robert.

While adults rate their stress at a 5.1 on a 10-point scale, teens rate their stress levels at 5.8. American teenagers are now the most stressed-out age group in the U.S according to APA’s Stress In America survey. This may in many ways prohibit adolescents from living their most fulfilled lives and having the energy to take risks and try new things.

“Sometimes I’m too hard on myself, I ask a lot of myself. I would like to chill and live my life without a lot of pressure,” said Nucciotti.

“I wish I’d been kinder to myself and a bit more encouraging the way that I am to other people,” said Brewer.

A lot of teenagers dream of the chance to create something new, but this feeling disappears because of the fear of failing or not filling the standards that the new world imposes.

“I’m afraid to not stand out and just be just be an ordinary person,” said Nguyen.

Let your light shine, all of our uniqueness is actually really special, you’re doing the world disservice when you don’t share that with the world,” said Brewer.

Not acting when the chance was there, waiting too long, not traveling, not doing the things which make us feel most alive and healthy, not going a year on broad, not being true to themselves, thinking too much, not living the moment, being to hard on themselves, caring so much about the little stuff, not doing all the activities because of what they would think of them, not listen to their elders but the most important thing not listening to themselves are some of the regrets that the people interviewed had.

For teens, there’s so much that lies ahead, so many dreams and accomplishments waiting to be discovered. These experiences are waiting just for you to discover them and take a chance. If we learn anything from adults in our community, it is that time goes quickly, and we will be happier if we can set aside stress and enjoy the moment and all it has to offer you. 

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