Thoughts of a 17 Year Old

Updated: Nov 14

What kind of fears do you have?

Something that is very hard for me and that I do consider to be a fear of mine, is receiving criticism. I hate having something I worked on, especially something I worked hard on, being disapproved of and criticised. I like to do things right so that makes it even more difficult to see a project of mine being found to have faults. My reaction towards criticism can sometimes also tend to be defensive, which doesn't always help things. I think what can also exacerbate this is that my love language is “words of affirmation”, so criticism can be especially hard for me.

Do you stop yourself from taking action because you are afraid of making mistakes and/or dealing with the consequences?

Do I stop myself from taking action because I am afraid? I think everyone would like to look at this question and go: “No of course not!” It is interesting that we as humans are so afraid of failure that we find it hard to admit that we could, in fact, fail. Can I really look at myself and say there was never an important time in my life where I stopped myself from taking action because I was afraid of making mistakes and messing something up, when instead, by not taking that action, I was in fact making a mistake?

One of those times was when I first started homeschooling along with my younger sister. We had made the decision to start homeschooling when I was 12 because my father is a pilot and we wanted to be able to travel and learn at the same time. However, it was not easy when we started.

In the beginning, it was hard because we were worried about what other people were doing and not focusing on our own journey. My friends back in school were drowning in projects and homework and were so swamped that I could only meet up with them for 2 hours on a weekend! Keep in mind that we were 12 and one of my friends was dealing with more work than her older sister who was in her final year of high school. That is an insane thing to think of because no twelve-year-old should have that amount of work, but at the time, my family and I were all stressing about if we were doing enough, yet we were sticking to a formal curriculum so well that my sister and I might as well have been at a traditional school.

I remember constantly comparing what I was doing with what my friends were doing and having these thoughts of, “Oh, my goodness, is this going to affect my future if I am not doing enough?”

Then when we were exploring and working with our own styles of learning, there would be thoughts in the background, wondering if the benefit of my current experiences was going to be enough for the consequence of having possible ramifications on my future. It was a stop-start process because each time we would ‘deviate’ towards our own path, the fear of failure would seep back in and we would slink back towards a rigid structure.

Our picture of the consequences we imagine isn’t always very realistic and often is based on fear. And then in hindsight, when we see what the hidden benefits are, we often wonder why we worried so much in the first place.

What is better, to have tried and failed, or to never have tried at all?

I believe it is far better to fail than to have never tried at all. Yes, I might have avoided the discomfort of possible failure but what have I lost in the process? I will always have to sit with the regret I will inevitably feel along with the wondering, what if? What if I had been braver? What if I had given it a chance? What if I had succeeded? I will have lost an opportunity I can never regain. And even if I had failed, I still would have learnt and grown as a person from this experience. A failure is never really a failure because it always teaches you something. If I choose the option of not even trying, I would be stealing the benefit either outcome would bring me.

We are still human after all, so I won’t lie and say that despite knowing this and telling myself this, I don’t still struggle when I am in that situation and the possibility of failure is staring me in the face. What I will say, however, is that I constantly strive to make that hard choice and take the risk of failing even when it can make me feel very vulnerable.

What negative inner beliefs dominate your life?

Everyone suffers from that nagging little voice in our head that likes to tell us what we can’t do and what we should worry about. One of the things the voice in my head loves to tell me is that what other people think of me matters more than what I think of myself. It can be an awful thing to have sitting around in your brain, especially when it pops up at the most inconvenient of times. It is like a cage that stops me from moving forward if I let it paralyse me. Unfortunately, letting it stop me from doing what I want to do is something that happens every now and then, and I'm sure there will be times when I let it get the best of me again. It is okay to acknowledge that we are imperfect and working on ourselves. It is also important to remember to be gentle with ourselves.

If you let “it” go, what would happen?

Letting “it” go sounds so simple and easy on paper. But in reality, it is far more complicated than it sounds. I wish it were as easy as saying goodbye to that voice in your head and then instantly have it disappear. What I would have to do is first face that voice and all of its beliefs. All the beliefs I consciously or subconsciously have about myself. Then, I would have to explore those beliefs and why they are there and why I let them define me. The hard part is where I will have to come up with an effective strategy to combat them. There are many different ways of doing this and everyone has to find the method that works for them. That is not the point of this question though so I will leave it at that.

What would happen if I did that successfully? Freedom. I think it would give me the freedom to move forward without all these negative beliefs cluttering my mind and stopping me from living life fully and uninhibited. To get to the stage of SO WHAT. The stage where if the voice ever pops up, I can just say, “Ah there’s that voice again, I see you are there and I don’t need you,” and instead go, “SO WHAT? I don't care and I'm going to carry on doing me.”

What positive inner beliefs dominate your life?

Surprisingly, this is also a hard question to answer because I feel like I am boasting about myself even though I know all these things about me are true.

I am a kind person, considerate of other people and empathetic towards them. I am also very loyal to my friends and family. I have a positive outlook in life. I consider myself intelligent, funny and have a strong belief about my place in this world and that I have the ability to make a difference.

What thoughts inspire you?

Along with all the bad in this world, there is also a lot of good and it can be really inspiring. One of the things I find truly inspiring is all the growth and change that has occurred in the world. It is incredible to see all the progress that we have made as a species and as a society.

As a seventeen year old, what really inspires me is seeing other young people like myself succeed at making a difference. It makes me feel hopeful and excited for the future when I witness young people standing up and taking initiative to get their voices heard. I am someone who believes that young people need to be involved in decisions about their country and the world. So when I see people my age who are being taken seriously and making an impact for their cause, it makes me feel like I can achieve that too.

What would you like to change in the world?

So many things come to mind when I hear this question that I feel I could write a whole essay on them. What I do feel is one of the most essential things is that we can reach a state where we are living in a world that is more open-minded, more open-hearted and is filled with less hatred and violence. This is my deepest wish.

What actions do you take to get as close as possible?

It can be really hard to make a change sometimes, especially when you are trying to achieve a huge impact or affect something in another country thousands of kilometres away from you. That’s why I think everyday actions can be equally as important as the big actions. I feel that it is so important to learn. Learn about new issues constantly and what you can do to help, and then in turn, share that information with the people surrounding you in your life. While it is also important to share that knowledge on a larger scale such as on social media, having these conversations in your everyday life can help create a ripple effect as those around you continue to learn and share their learnings with others. I believe this is essential in helping raise awareness about issues affecting our society. This way, we can then have discussions and debates with, for example, a relative that doesn't believe in climate change; you have all the facts and proof to back you up and help change their perspective. Or at the very least, get them thinking about it!

What is your biggest dream?

Often, when we are asked that sometimes-daunting question of what our biggest dream is, we think of being successful and with a job that we want and all the other details that fit into place to make it sound perfect. But what is success? How can you measure something like that when everyone defines it differently, according to their beliefs and ideas along with their hopes and dreams?

My biggest dream and idea of success is that I am genuinely happy in my life and am in love with who I am as a person. A life that is full of laughter and fun. Then there are the other important details that will contribute to this: I want to be doing work that I know truly helps people and impacts them in a positive way. There are other things included in my dream life as well, of course. I have always had animals involved in my life in some way, shape or form and I want that to continue throughout my future life. I want to have my own dogs to go on adventures with and run around with. I want to continue to be able to travel around the world and explore all the hidden gems it has to offer along with well known wonders that frequent bucket lists. I want the freedom that a life like that provides.

What are you grateful for?

I think sometimes in the world that we live in and especially during this current time, we forget how much we are grateful for. When people ask this question, I think we all tend to think of the same things; Oh I'm grateful for my family and my friends, and for this big opportunity I got and while these are all true, we often forget to include all the small things that can make us feel just as happy as all the big moments. So I shall tell you a combination of both.

I am grateful for quiet mornings with a cup of warm tea that seeps into my bones when the world is waking up and the sky is still transforming from grey to golden. For mid-morning swims in the ocean when the white horses jump in and out of waves and the water droplets glistening on tanned skin seem to shine brighter than the inside of a jewellery store. I am grateful for the traveling I have been able to do in my life and the joy it has brought me, the excitement of exploring a new country, tasting new food and experiencing different cultures is something I think I’ll never tire of. One of the things I love most in life is good food. I love trying new food and going to restaurants, but there is nothing quite like working really hard on an incredible meal and then being able to sit down and enjoy the food that you have created from scratch. I treasure the moments with my best friend when we are both laughing so hard that we can't breathe and have collapsed into wheezing giggles on the floor. I love the evenings just before sunset, driving with the windows down and singing along to the music playing as we cruise along a calm street. I am grateful for the feeling of carefree freedom that running into the rain and dancing along to a tune in my head brings and the simple joy it alights in me.

Most of all, I am grateful for the life that I live even when it has its challenges, because it has brought me moments like these that have made me incandescently happy.


  • drawing by pigwire

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