What I Would Tell My Teenage Self

I’m approaching my 33rd year of life, and as I reflect on my younger years, I remember thinking I had it all figured out when I was in my teens. I remember quite clearly thinking that I had it all figured out by the time I had kids and was married in my early 20s.

But the reality is, I did not have it figured out. I still don’t have it figured out.

But when I look back on the milestones of my life, I wish I could tell myself which things to focus on, and which things truly didn’t matter. The biggest encouragements I wish I could tell my teenage self would be as follows:

The things I would tell my younger self

Don’t be scared to go after big things

You’ll never accomplish the big dreams you have if you don’t actually chase after them. I know that sounds like a big “well duh,” but the reality is, so many times we get set back or stuck in our old patterns of thinking.

We view our potential in life based on our situation at hand, but really we should not let our situation dictate what we pursue.

It is easy to go after the simple things, but could you imagine if you went after that huge desire in your heart?

If you have a dream of going to college... Apply. Take the first step. If you have a dream of starting your own business, write out your plan, take a leap, and start it.

You’re capable of more than you realize

Disabled or not, I believe we all can fall into the boring mundane trap of thinking we cannot do it. With that wrong mindset, we can crawl into a shell, thinking our goals aren’t worth going after because we don’t believe we can attain them.

We sell ourselves short before we have even begun; we buy into a lie that we are not able. Don’t do that! Try, try, and try again.

Get creative on how to adapt to life

I always like to say anything is possible, you just have to get creative about how you do it. My marriage looks different for me being in a wheelchair. Parenting looks different for me being in a wheelchair. Traveling looks different for me while being in a wheelchair.

But I wouldn’t pass on doing any of those things because I have to do them differently. I’ve just had to get creative on how to be successful at those things.

It can get discouraging because they may come physically easier to another person doing the same thing, but I can almost guarantee that they have difficulties in other areas that I cannot relate to. We are not inherently worse off... mindset is truly everything!

Be positive, not negative

Your attitude about things in life will largely determine how life goes for you. Don’t underestimate the power of what a positive attitude can bring!

When you look at things glass half-full and refuse to speak out negative thoughts and complaints, you are changing your mindset in a powerful way. It becomes like a muscle reflex- the more you use it, the easier it becomes.

And then eventually you will find yourself not stressing over the tiny negative things, but focusing on the positive, which fosters an attitude of hope and gratitude.

Get excited about what’s to come!

It’s easy to be fearful when you do not know what lies ahead, but choose to be excited! Life is full of surprises and opportunities, and many unknowns that will inevitably come your way.

You can decide how you react to this! I choose now to remain excited about the future. Because I don’t have all the answers at the end of the day, and I do not have to. There’s no need to worry since none of us have it all figured out!

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