Editor's Note: Manasi Kinikar is a high school senior at Normal Community High School. Kinikar blogs for The Vidette under an internship program.

Very often we see articles that talk about people advising their younger, more naive selves. This made me wonder about how we are always keen to fix our past problems instead of focusing on the future. I attempted to see if I could flip this idea and give my older self some advice based on my collective wisdom of 18 years of life experience. So after working on my list for almost a month, I managed to condense my advice to five main points that I believe most of us can relate to.

  1. Try to get out of your comfort zone: As an introverted person, this has been one that is relatively hard for me to follow. Staying in my comfort zone feels safe and comfortable giving me no reasons to try to leave it. However, I soon realized that it also hindered my growth and caused me to have lower expectations of myself. Trying to leave what is familiar and safe can feel scary, but it is far more dangerous to stay in a place that you have outgrown. In the beginning, it may seem awkward and uncomfortable, but soon you find your comfort zone rises with you. By continually changing the definition of what your comfort feels like, you eventually start becoming less dependent on it and more focused on your personal growth.
  2. Focus on your mental health: This is one that many, if not all of us have struggled with at one point. Our health can determine our quality of life, on which almost everything else is dependent on. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I can testify that its effects are tremendous. Even the simplest tasks can seem difficult and the things we looked most forward to soon begin to lose our interest. By not dealing with it or trying to reach out to someone we can often make this situation worse. Most people tend to suffer silently due to the taboo against mental health. This can lead to further damage that can leave scars that last a lifetime. Most people also feel guilty for feelings that are normal and can be mended by asking for help. Society has expectations of us that can sometimes be hard to keep up with, instead of only being focused on others expectations, it is also essential to take a step back and take care of yourself first. By putting yourself first, we can make sure we are giving our best version of ourselves to everyone. Mental health is often invisible to others and thus harder to explain to those who have not experienced it. It can control your life if it is not dealt with proper care. By accepting yourself and working towards mending your relationship with your mind we can all give our best selves to society and more importantly to ourselves.
  3. Follow your passion: Doing what you love is essential to being human. A lot of people are tied to jobs or working towards degrees that we aren’t passionate about. This can quickly become draining and a massive chunk of our lives becomes a monotonous chore. Almost everyone has something that they are incredibly adept at and enjoy doing. Although I don’t enjoy every subject at school, I do look forward to history, literature, music and even writing for The Vidette. Expressing my thoughts through writing and working on improving it to become a better writer brings me a sense of fulfillment and joy. It gives a larger purpose to my life and allows me to make meaningful goals for myself that go beyond the standard expectations of school and jobs. In my free time, I also enjoy reading and listening as well as playing music. These may seem tasks that don’t contribute towards earning money or even my degree, but they add value to my life that is immeasurable. It’s these things that we look forward to the most doing at the end of the day. By fostering your passions and making them an integral part of our lives, we can be lucky enough to have a career that also aligns with our interests. To be able to look forward to each day and do something you love can not only the change your life but also make you feel grateful for doing meaningful work.
  4. Be curious: This may seem like very cliché advice, but it is something that we can all incorporate into our lives at any age. Being curious is the stepping stone to any great invention or revelation. Most things that we use today that are fundamental to society only exist because someone was curious about an idea or a concept. Bill Gates began to show an interest in computer programming at just 13 by pursuing his curiosity in the programming field. He later co-founded the world’s leading company in computer software – Microsoft. Being interested in other cultures or different points of view can expand our understanding of something that we were unfamiliar with or even opposed to. By replacing judgment with curiosity, we can become more knowledgeable as well as open-minded. Curiosity often leads to new discoveries as well as unity between people from different backgrounds.
  5. Practice gratitude: This may be the most important thing we do in our lives. Many people have at one point in their lives wanted for more than they were given. We all have days, when we are unhappy with our circumstances and look at our current phase in life as an obstacle to our happiness. We could be blindsided by somebody else’s situation and wonder if we would be happy if we were in their shoes. However, we often forget that everyone has hurdles that they must overcome and it can be easy to only focus on others success while we are still struggling. We are also often led astray by the prestige of material possessions and their ability to solve all our problems. Yet, we once again forget that we only value them as long as we don’t have it. This can make us stuck in a vicious cycle of greed and jealousy. If we opened our mind more, we would quickly realize that many people have less than us and still find ways to make the best of it. Only by living in a first world country, we are at an enormous advantage with opportunities bestowed upon us that many can only dream of. Practicing gratitude allows us to be thankful for everything that we have received and also inspires us to keep working towards bigger and better goals. We can only complain so much before we realize that to change our situation we need to take action. Many times it seems as though the world goes out of its way to put roadblocks in our path to success, it may seem that way only because the world doesn’t go out of its way to clear our path either. Once we accept our struggles and our successes, we not only become more grateful but also find peace in our life as well as its many crevices.

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