Thoughts. Experiences. Inspiration.

10 Lessons for 10 Year Old Me

October 11, 2013 0

There have been many lessons I’ve learnt over the years, thanks to the experiences that Rinpoche and my parents have given me the opportunity to…experience. They are lessons I wish I could tell my 10 year old self.

It’s not that my 10 year old self needed much advice or was particularly messed up. Okay, so I wasn’t the best kid a lot of the time – a favourite memory involves my History teacher stamping (in bright red, no less!) “Did not bring books to class” in my Homework Diary for many consecutive weeks. I terrorised my siblings, threw tantrums at my Mandarin teacher(s), demanded toys and pretended to pay attention in private piano class for years without ever learning how to play it.

So if I said I had a terrible childhood, well quite frankly that’d be a lie because in reality, Rinpoche and my parents gave me what every child really needs: a good education, discipline, manners and huge doses of encouragement.

Still, there’s stuff I’ve learnt over the last few years which I think my 10 year old self would find beneficial. Now I’m not saying I’ve fully realised all of the below but they are characteristics that I am more aware of these days, especially as I creep ever closer to the big 3-0!


1. Who cares what you look like?

Fat, thin, beautiful, ugly – it’s all in the mind. Granted, kids can be nasty about that kind of stuff (sometimes unbearably so) but I would ask 10 Year Old Me, is it worth letting a few years of teasing and bullying throw off the rest of your life? Especially when those bullies will probably forget what they’ve done to you over the next couple of decades?

Enjoy those legs, they won't last for very long!

Enjoy those legs, they won’t last for very long!

I would tell my 10 year old self that what really matters is a healthy body and a healthy mind, and the rest is a bonus. So what if my 26 year old self doesn’t have a stomach that’s the ideal flatness, if her underarms are a little wobbly and she is far from developing the coveted thigh gap? My eyesight is great, I can run up flights of stairs without getting out of breath, and can carry objects far heavier than you’d expect me to be able to lift. That’s all I really need, and I’m not going to stress about the stuff that doesn’t matter.

Beauty is a depreciating asset and anyway, at 10 years old, you’re the skinniest you’re ever going to be so enjoy it!


2. Don’t judge a book by its cover

Schools are awful for this. 10 Year Old Me, don’t pay too much attention to polls which rate your classmates as the Person Most Likely To. It’s all nonsense and when you get older, it’s not going to matter anymore. People will make their own decisions and carve out their own paths in life – the It couple will break up, the banker will leave his job to become an artist, and the person you thought was only good for being a pot-smoking hippie will invent something so out of the box, he becomes a millionaire many times over before the age of 20.

16 years later and this photo will just be another snapshot of our past. What you thought was so real and important at the time, 10 Year Old Me, has become unimportant and forgotten at 26

16 years later and this photo will just be another snapshot of our past. What you thought was so real and important at the time, 10 Year Old Me, has become unimportant and forgotten at 26

Know that pigeon-holeing people will not serve you because you only see them for the way you want to, and not for what they truly are – sentient beings with the potential to do and be whatever they want.


3. It’s alright to have an opinion

Being different from your friends is not bad; being different from your friends isn’t going to ruin the rest of your life. If your friends don’t like what you have to say or what you think, it’s fine. It’s not the end of the world (really). And if they want to end their friendships with you, maybe you needed a different set of friends anyway.

10 Year Old Me, the number of friends you have is not correlated with how happy you are because loneliness is a state of mind, not the number of people surrounding you. You can be living in the most crowded of cities and still feel completely lonely. Or you can be a Tenzin Palmo, meditating in a cave in the snow and be utterly blissed out.

So 10 Year Old Me, realise that in two decades’ time, you will garner greater respect if you have something intelligent to say so develop your mind, not your face.


4. The importance of good friends

A good friend is not an enabler of your bad habits and b******t. A good friend will challenge you, push you and bring out the best in you. A good friend will tell you the truth, and risk their reputation with you, so that you get what you need to hear and not what you want to hear.

Good friends are invaluable and when they come by oh-so very rarely, remember Point #2! They will appear in all shapes and sizes, and come from all kinds of backgrounds. What is important is that when you find one, cherish it. 10 Year Old Me, few people will tell you the truth because for most people, their relationship with you is about what they can get out of you, not what they can give to you.

Surround yourself with those who have been kind to you

Surround yourself with those who have been kind to you

Remember those who were good to you. The best friendships are won and kept by loyalty, trust and forgiveness. Anything else is immaterial and subject to the whims and fancies of the other party. So if someone has been good to you, remember them for it because one day, it’ll come back to you and you will be grateful for having learnt how to recognise kindness when you received it.


5. It’s okay to be friends with your parents

No one else in the world will want to give you everything more than your parents; no one else in the world will want to take so little from you as compared to your parents.

You might not know it now, 10 Year Old Me, but when you're older, your parents will be happy to go along with your shenanigans

You might not know it now, 10 Year Old Me, but when you’re older, your parents will be happy to go along with your shenanigans

When you’re a 10 year old, maybe your mum and dad aren’t the coolest, wealthiest, trendiest, or most elegant of the playground lot. Maybe they don’t let you have all the things that your friends’ parents let them have. When you’re 10, not having that stuff will matter but 10 Year Old Me, realise also that your mum and dad are giving you something far more valuable, something that you cannot see – a work ethic and the determination to earn your keep.

10 Year Old Me, when you’re 26 and in the same working world as your parents, they will be the most valuable resource of information, knowledge and experience you have at your disposal. So don’t give them too much grief and don’t tell them they don’t understand how you feel; they do understand because once upon a time, a long time ago, they were 10 years old too.


6. It’s okay to fight for something you believe in

This is best embodied by the proverb “If you don’t have enemies, it means you’ve never stood up for something”. When you stand up for what you believe in, you might lose some people who don’t like to hear what you have to say, but it’s okay. As long as your logic is sound, what’s wrong with sticking up for yourself? There are 7 billion people in the world and we can’t all agree on everything.

Even if what you have to say is not to other people's taste (like this board I saw in Hyde Park's Speakers' Corner), don't be afraid to stand up for it!

Even if what you have to say is not to other people’s taste (like this board I saw in Hyde Park’s Speakers’ Corner), don’t be afraid to stand up for it!

Having said that, fighting does not have to be aggressive. You can stand up for yourself and what you believe in without hurting and offending others. For example, if you have a great job that helps others, go all out. Throw your passion into it and work with heart because fighting for what you believe in can also mean making damn sure what you love becomes a success. So honestly, 10 Year Old Me, there’s nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree but…


7. Bamboo doesn’t shatter in the wind because it bends with it

It’s okay to be wrong, 10 Year Old Me. You don’t have to come out guns blazing everytime someone shows you how you’re wrong. So have your opinion and fight for it but if it’s wrong, be willing to change it. You won’t get everything right, no one is 100% correct. Relax, let go of that blow to your ego, and take whatever new information you’ve been given and add it to what you already know. Experiences only become a failure if you don’t learn from it. Therefore…


8. There’s more than one way to skin a cat

First of all 10 Year Old Me, you’re going to end up a vegetarian so put down that chicken wing and don’t ever think about skinning cats. Second, don’t get so fixated on your way of doing things. Recognise that the goal is what you really want; how you get there should be the most effective means of getting there, and it’s not necessarily the way YOU want to get there.


9. It’s okay to be you

In fact, the harder you try to be unique, the more you end up becoming like everyone else who is trying to be unique as well. Case in point – the hipster and whimsically vintage subcultures have been subverted by mainstream culture in the spawning of stores like Etsy and Anthropologie.

Erm, drool.

Erm, drool.

The thing is, everyone else is just as scared / weird as you are. So 10 Year Old Me, don’t try to be different because you already are. And don’t try too hard to fit in because everyone already does, whether they like it or not. Just figure out what you are passionate about and stick with that, even if no one else agrees with it because 16 years later, no one is going to remember it all anyway.


10. Be kind

If you really want to stand out from the crowd, be kind because so few are truly kind in this world. The people who are universally remembered and respected are the people who were kind. So what about beauty? Popularity? Reputation? Fame? Well, 10 Year Old Me, all of that stuff is out of your control; it is dependent on how other people perceive you.

Kindness (even if it sounds lame to you now) transcends religion, culture, beliefs, creed and species; it is something experienced and appreciated by humans and animals alike. And when you’re kind, it means you’re truthful and honest, the same characteristics that will have you stand in good stead wherever you go.

So 10 Year Old Me, don’t sweat the small stuff. In 5 (okay, 10) years’ time, everything will be okay 🙂

Reflections and Teachings

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