What I Wish I Knew At 16

Dear 16-year-old Geelyn,

Well, it’s been a good ten years since I was your age. I thought that now would be a good time to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way.

You know, we’ve been at the receiving end of good remarks for our looks, and yet, nasty comments have also been carelessly thrown our way. In university, I became unhealthily concerned with my appearance because I had put on a lot of weight during my time overseas. Also, our sister had just become an air stewardess then, and I was often compared to her. Our relatives even went so far as to say things like, “You’ve gained so much weight leh! You look like a little pig.”

Yet, I want you to know that such comments shouldn’t deter you from still loving yourself. Stick with people who support and encourage you instead of those who tear you down with their words. Slowly but surely, I began to find my security in God, and at times when insecurity once again crept up, I learned to bring it to God and let Him slowly work His way.

At 26 now, I’ve stopped focusing on my physical flaws and letting the devil feed me with lies about my “ugliness”. We are created in the image of God! If only we could see ourselves as the beautiful creation that God has so lovingly made! By defaming or degrading ourselves, we are essentially criticising God’s creation. How much do you think that hurts His heart?

Now how can I give you advice without talking about boys? By the time you get to my age, you would have been in several relationships. Looking back now, I finally understand why all the adults were discouraging me from being in a relationship when I was younger!

Relationships at that age may not necessarily be helpful, especially when we are struggling to even understand the world and ourselves.

Even though I have learnt much from my past relationships and they have helped to shape who I am now, they also had severe negative repercussions on me. I was very hurt, to the point of having a lot of self-loathing and damaging thoughts. It took several years to recover from some of those relationships. I honestly don’t know if I would want myself to go through that again if I were to turn back time. As youngsters, it is easy to make decisions without thinking about the impact it may have on us in the future. Don’t put yourself through that, my dearest younger self. It isn’t worth it.

Regarding physical boundaries, while it appears to be the same old nagging, know that when adults give you advice, there is a basis for it. They’ve been through what you are going through, and have seen the troubles that come with it. Don’t think that they are dismissing what teens are experiencing — it is simply that they love you enough to not want you to go through the same mistakes they did, so cherish the advice they give.

Remember Geelyn, if you know that things will enter the “danger zone” with a guy, don’t allow such a situation to arise in the first place. From the onset, be very clear about your physical boundaries, and before any confusion between you and your boyfriend can happen, address the issue straight out. Talking about physical boundaries is important as it sets the right tone for the relationship to move forward and both parties are clear about when to stop and draw back. It may feel awkward, but you have to be honest and let him know what you’re comfortable with.

My boyfriend once said this to me, “Some things are worth the wait.” I believe we all want to be “worth the wait” and want to find someone “worth waiting for”, so never compromise, and always remember to listen carefully for God’s voice.

Alright, that’s all from me. Rest assured that with a heart set on Christ and a desire to hear from Him, you’ll get through all of this confusion and emerge even stronger.

26-year-old Geelyn

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