Five things 13 year old me needed to hear

We all wish we had do-overs in least one. I don't care if your life-motto is 'no regrets', there is always that one circumstance in which you wish you had a mulligan. Well, tough luck. You don't get one. But if I could go back and deliver a message to myself, that 13 year old me might actually listen to, it would surround these five wisdoms that I have learned in my time on this earth. 1. "Clothes make the man." - I had a wonderful childhood. I grew up on a multi-acred property, played in the mud, and my weekends were filled with all of the sports I could squeeze in. However, we didn't have a lot of money, and often when it came time to buying clothes, Value Village was our go-to. When I was younger, it didn't bother me, but as I entered highschool, brand names became a must-have, and instead of just getting clothes that fit right and looked good, I would opt for on-sale brand names that were a size or two too big. Wear clothes that fit. The label and price doen't matter, but wearing clothes that fit you right make you feel like a million bucks. The better you feel, the more confident you are; confidence is magnetic. 2. "Respect is earned not given." - Don't get me wrong. I was not a bully. I would never instigate in making fun of someone else and was conscious of how my actions made others feel. HOWEVER, there are instances I can recall where I wish I had the courage to step in to defend someone else when I knew something wrong was happening. The reality is, respect should be assumed until it's lost. Be kind to everyone, always. And when others are not kind, be brave and confident enough to do what you know is right. 3. "Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century." - Growing up can be an awkward, difficult, and sometimes painful experience; learn to laugh at yourself and it will be a lot easier. This is a message my father taught me early on, and while I practiced this outwardly, inwardly it proved more of a challenge. Understanding the insecurity of all those around you, accepting that you are not alone and not different, and appreciating that it's not personal, is, in my humble opinion, the key to life. The ability to laugh at yourself, and even poke fun at yourself (without self-deprecation) is a higher-level social skill that many never develop. It is a sign of self-confidence and is a tremendous ice-breaker in new social situations. Be quick to laugh and slow to anger. 4. "The only thing to fear is fear itself." - I was not a fearful child (although I distinctly remember freaking out any time my dad would pick me up and turn me upside down). I was constantly part of groups, was always involved in sports, I had plenty of friends and was very social. The same was true in highshool. BUT, for some reason I started to become extremely anxious in social situations, and was unreasonably uncomfortable being in the spotlight. Looking back, I never had any reason to be so. From what I remember, I was friendly with everybody, wasn't bullied, and I didn't have a tail growing out of my forehead. Perhaps it was an immaturity that didn't have me prepared to take that step from childhood to pre-adulthood (I finally figured it out in college). First of all relax. Do things. Put yourself out there. You only get one chance to live each part of your life. I'm not saying try LSD when you're 13 years old. But I am saying, don't let the fear of the unknown or potential for embarrassment stop you from doing things. 5. "Music is the soundtrack of our lives." - I showed an early propensity for musical aptitude. I could sit down at a piano and pick out my favourite songs by ear and memory (The Entertainer by Scott Joplin was my jam when I was 10). Hearing this, my mom put me in piano lessons (I hated them). I only did them for as long as I had to, and then I quit. I would later pick up the saxophone in highschool band (again, because it was part of curriculum) and then quit that too, when I was no longer being graded. Thanks to the interests of my college roommates, I picked up the guitar. I don't suck too bad at it now (7 years later), but music definitely doesn't come as naturally as it once did. Sing, guitar, piano, whatever. Not only is it a party favourite, it is an international language and a wonderful stress-release. There is something primal about music that touches everyone. Being able to create such universal understanding and happiness is a gift that you will value later on... hell, that's how you are going to win-over your future wife. Oh yeah, and one more thing: life may not play out exactly as you envisioned it, but in a lot of ways it's going to be so much better. Hang in there.

Brendan Rolfe
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