Ever wish you could go back in time and tell your younger self all the crazy things that would ensue in the coming years? I wish I could tell myself so many things, specifically the 17 year version of me. The girl who was spending all her lunch breaks in the library filling out scholarship applications, practicing acting monologues in the parking lot, and rushing from extracurricular to extracurricular. I wanted so desperately to leave my home and move far away to New York City. I wanted to get out. But looking back, I wish I had taken the time to enjoy the present moment. The silly aspects of high school, the simple life that living in a small, lazy beach town provides, being a kid….

These are some of the things I wish I could tell my 17 year old self.

Dear 17 year old me….

Keep Your Chin Up and Your Head Down

My dear 17 year old self…stop comparing yourself to others. Although I’m so grateful you didn’t have your first smartphone until college, I wish you had stopped reflecting your worth off of Myspace and Facebook. Social media is meaningless, and comparing yourself to strangers on the internet does nothing. Stop trying to emulate the successful adults who have already have it together – they already went through the stages and phases you’re going through. Besides comparing yourself to them will continue to drag you down. Keep your chin, girly – stay positive and hopeful. You’re well on your way…but remember to also keep that head of yours down and focus on your growth. This is your journey in life and your experience of the world that you’re living. Focus on the work. Focus on your spiritual growth. Focus on your living. Everything else is background noise. 

Wait For the One

Oh girl…despite your intense love and passion for all the hobbies and projects that are probably on your plate right now, let’s admit it: you also love boys. In fact, you probably have like 4 or 5 crushes at once, am I right? Here’s a newsflash: you’re never going to see any one of those guys ever again. Don’t waste your precious time on this earth being young and chasing guys who didn’t clearly see what a catch you were. If they don’t see how incredible of a person you are now, they never will. Those guys will never know what they missed out on – and you will forget. You will be a better human in the long run if you put your focus on yourself and your values, so wait for the one that will sweep you off your feet. Wait for the one who will adore and cherish every single part of your spirit. Because you will meet him. He will come straight out of left field when you aren’t even looking. He will come after you’ve spent some time alone – learning, growing and becoming the person you’re meant to be, and he will show up in your life once you are confident and in love with you.

It will all be better than you imagine

You’re not going to believe this: all those things you’re dreaming of right now, all those hours and years spent daydreaming and working towards and planning and visualizing – all of it will be for nothing. Well, maybe not completely – I’m sure it all added to your eventual becoming. But you will change. You will find new passions and explore other careers. You will start projects and quit projects. Your hobbies will change as you grow older, just as your interests will and your mind will grow and shift everyday for the next 6 years. The people you hang out with will change, and you will grow apart. You will become a very different human than you are now – and it’s all going to work out even better than you can ever imagine. Your wildest dreams will come true, but it may not look exactly as you desire it to now. Because those dreams will change.

Make Fewer, Deeper Friendships

I can hear you already “whaat? But I love being friends with everyone! The more friends, the better right?!” In some ways, yes. But if I could go back, I would tell you to make fewer, deeper friendships. Friendships that will stand the test of time. Friends that you would be able to reach out and call 6 years later just because. Friends that you would feel so close to, that you would want to travel with them and maybe even invite them to your wedding. Don’t be so busy making acquaintances with everyone that you sacrifice time with the people that will stick around. Connect deeply, love fiercely, and let go often.

 

Hurt People Hurt People

There were girls in school that were unkind to you…I get it. It happens to all of us. Bullying is cruel, but practicing unwavering compassion for everyone, even the ones who may not have been kind to you deserve it more than anyone. Hurt people hurt people. Sometimes the people who are the meanest have the hardest struggles that we know nothing about. They are battling something internally that you can never understand, unless you’ve been in their shoes. Suffering is not often vocalized, and it’s so important to be kind and compassionate to those individuals especially.

Get in Touch with Your Higher Self

The #1 thing I wish I could go back and tell you is to get in touch with your higher power. You know, that little voice that is always kind and on your side? Call it your intuition, your gut, your inner knowing. It’s that part of you that is full of love and power. It’s the source of all things alive. Well, you are part of it. Yes – you are part of something much bigger than we, humans, are conscious of as of yet. Follow those hunches, those intuitive nudges from the Universe. And practice meditation. Those fascinations you have for all things spiritual and Law of Attraction will continue to expand and grow in your future, curious 17 year old self. Start learning now.

Don’t Hold Grudges With Your Parents

It’s difficult to understand this now, because you’re “invincible” right? But someday your parents are going to be gone. In fact, your dad will suddenly pass away in a few short years. Don’t hold onto those grudges you’re holding right now….let go of your resentment towards them. Give it a day. Go to sleep and call them in the morning. Forgive them. Say “I’m sorry” first. Call them on their birthdays. Make time to buy that plane ticket and see them. Seeing them once a year is not enough; you will understand this later. They didn’t mean to hurt you – they were holding onto pain themselves. Don’t blame them for not being there. Forgive, and repeat. Let go. Let go. Let go.

Relax

Oh for Pete’s sake, love – take a deep breath and relaaaax. Everything you want will happen – it just might not come in the exact materialization you expect it to. Let go of your ego’s needs – those wants and desires to be “famous” and to be “rich.” Remember those desires you had – to be remembered long after you were gone? None of that matters. What matters is that you are present and peaceful NOW. That is all you will ever have in this life. You will only ever have now, so take those breaths and look up – this earth welcomes you lovingly. Love it back.

I wish I could back and tell the 17 year old Helena all the incredible, scary, wonderful, exciting and stressful situations she would encounter in the next six years. But I also wish I could impart these words to her – so she would know that in the end, love is all that matters. That and….loving yourself unconditionally, being kind to others, and practicing non-attachment and presence in every aspect of living. 

It will all work out fine, girl. 

 

What are some things you wish you could tell yourself at 17? 

A few pictures of me when I was 17…

Dear 17 Year Old Me

April 6, 2018

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical moments through my lens and my pen. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I'm inspired to share the light around me. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

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