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17 Things I Would Tell My 17-Year-Old Self To Do Differently So I’d Be Happier Now

I'll be the first to admit it: I was a royal brat when I was 17. I went through a rude and inconsiderate teenage phase of my life, but didn't we all?

I've learned a lot in the past six years; so much so that I wish I could tell my younger self some wise advice and appreciate some of the things I took for granted:

Dear 17-year-old self,

1. Keep up with Spanish, German and even Afrikaans.

It will be so helpful when you travel abroad, and believe me, you’re going to do a lot of that when you’re older.


2. Write more.

Write until your hand falls off. Write drunk; edit sober. You were born to be a journalist and will have the dream of writing novels when you’re older so you should get all the practice you can while you’re young.


3. Take more pictures.

You were also a born photographer (and sometimes model), so get used to having that camera in front of you. It will be so much fun looking back on your younger self.


4. Floss.

Make flossing your new best friend because let me tell you, getting cavities filled isn’t fun. Also remember to wear your retainer more; otherwise you’ll have mom commenting on your barely crooked teeth for the next five years.


5. Don’t straighten your hair so much.

Seriously, you’re going to come to love your wavy bed head hair, even though you won’t when you’re 17.

Don’t for a second think you can successfully dye your hair from a box, either. You’ve got way too much hair and it looks beautiful the way it is.


6. Speaking of looking beautiful, lay off the makeup.

Too much of a good thing (makeup) is a bad thing (cake face). Raccoons may be your favorite animal, but you do not want to end up looking like one.


7. Honor your mentors.

Make time for your mentors and those you look up to. Get to know them better and ask them for advice.


8. Drive carefully.

You’ll get into more accidents and receive more speeding tickets in the next two years than you will from ages 19 to 23.


9. Work out more.

Thigh gap is going to be so in in five years and you’re going want one. Okay, I’m kidding (about the thigh gap part, anyway)!

Work out, though, girl. Develop good workout habits, even if it's just walking around the block once a day.


10. Eat healthier.

Once you get to college, you’re going to be living off macaroni and cheese, cereal and Nutella-covered everything, so learn to cook more than mac and cheese and pizza rolls.


11. Know that it’s completely okay to be a hermit.

You are a textbook-definition introvert. Don’t worry what all the haters say; be proud of your introverted self!

Know that it is totally okay to sit by yourself or only one or two people at the lunch table in high school because all your friends are in a different lunch period.


12. High school will be over sooner than you think.

Take one day at a time and every embarrassing moment with a grain of salt. Also know that it’s totally okay if you don’t attend your high school reunion. High school won’t be the best four years of your life, but college definitely will.


13. Watch out for boys who don’t treat you well.

This might be the hardest lesson because there is nothing better for a teenage girl to receive than attention from a hot guy.

Remember your mother’s words; there will never be a man good enough for you. Remember those words as you go to the homecoming dance with some loser or if your friend wants to hook you up with some handsome redneck guy who smokes cigarettes — eww!

I’m not saying that you can’t have fun; by all means, have fun! But if you’re in a relationship with a guy who doesn’t treat you well or makes you cry unintentionally, reevaluate your life.


14. Save your money.

You got your first job when you were 15 and will have at least one job for the rest of your life. You’re also going to be in college for five and a half years (this will thrill mom and dad).

Pick up more hours at the pharmacy and don’t go out as much on Mackinac Island when you work there for a summer.

PS: You do not need another graphic t-shirt from American Eagle and don’t even think about buying jeans from Buckle.


15. Seriously look into getting scholarships for college (don’t just say you’re going to).

You’re going to be in college for a long time and you know who won’t be happy about paying for most of it? Mom and Dad.


16. Be more grateful.

You are a royal brat at 17, and you’ll only get worse when you’re 18. You have it good; you live with your parents, don’t have to pay for any bills, you’re going to a relatively cheap university next year and have had the privilege of traveling all over the world.

Get off your high horse and appreciate the things you have, how much your parents have given you and all the support and love you’ve received from friends and family.


17. Know that the best is yet to come.

You’re going to fall in love, get your heart broken, break other people’s hearts, travel all over Europe, have your writing published in many different places, change your mind about a dozen times about what you want to do after you graduate college and sometimes feel so lost, you want to give up.

There will be so many good times in the years to come, though, so even if it’s tough now, you’ll get through it and it will all be worth it. I promise.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It

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Kelsey Welke

Contributor

Kelsey Welke is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an aspiring international photojournalist. She is a cat lady and a textbook introvert. To see more of Kelsey's work, check out kelseywelke.wordpress.com.
Kelsey Welke is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an aspiring international photojournalist. She is a cat lady and a textbook introvert. To see more of Kelsey's work, check out kelseywelke.wordpress.com.

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