The 7 Things I Wish I Knew at 16

I'm you from the future. We're 26, but we still don't feel like a grown up. Our boobs have come in, we've been in love with someone who loves us back, and once in a terrible blue moon, someone will call us "ma'am." Even though we still freak out every time we meet a cute guy, we're smarter than we get credit for.

There's a lot left to learn, but here are the seven things I wish I had known:

1. You are not as gross looking as you think you are.
Just take my word on this. Your body is still new. Those hips, that belly, those thighs. People grow at different paces, so you can't compare yourself to the stick-thin kid that sits in front of you and has perfect hair. Go a full week without staring at your naked body in the mirror -- FOR REAL -- and see what happens.

2. Being nice will help you become more popular.
First, to the bitchy popular girl: We hate you and hope you burn off a chunk of your fake-ass hair, trip on your heels, and land in a pile of sweaty jockstraps.

To the cool, smart chick (you): There's nothing wrong with wanting people to like you, especially because people like nice people. Think about when you get a compliment on your outfit, and the rest of the day, you walk around with that "Oh, I KNOW I look good" swagger.

Give that feeling to someone else -- compliment them, be nice. If someone trips, go help them. I don't care if it's the weird goth kid, or the sexiest senior -- just do it. If someone looks bummed, throw 'em a smile. I'm not saying bake cookies -- just be nice.

3. Being sexy does not mean looking like SEX.
Imagine you're the monster in a scary movie. If you wear short skirts, low cut tops and tight clothes, then everyone has seen the monster already. When they don't see the monster, they're forced to imagine what it could be like, and that's a lot more thought-provoking.

Let them daydream about you! I'm not saying wear turtle necks, but think about your grandma. Would she be shocked by what you're wearing? Grandma test, works every time.

4. Don't give too much of yourself.
My best friends and I spit into a little vial and squeezed a couple drops of our blood in, shook it up, held hands, vowed to be friends forever, then buried it. It was cute, in a super gross way.

Friendship isn't just about promises. Hard stuff happens. Like one of you starts a serious relationship, or someone's parents divorce, or only one of us can go to college. As things change, don't give too much of yourself to friendships that are growing weary.

If your friend blows you off, instead of getting angry, just remember how they made you feel. If you get dumped, and your friends don't rush over with ice cream, remember that. When they call for your help, you can be there for them, or not. You don't need to go to the ends of the earth for people who won't go to the ends of the earth for you.

5. Confidence is everything.
Here's what being confident actually means: Do you have a question in class? Ask it. Do you think that girl's coat is adorable? Tell her! Curious about the volleyball team? Go try out! Confidence is about allowing yourself to explore your curiosities without worrying about failure, or what people will think. That includes your friends! If they aren't supportive of things that make you happy, then they aren't your real friends.

6) You don't need to know what you want to do with the rest of your life.
Up to 80 percent of entering college students are not certain what they want to major in, even if they have declared a major, and over 50 percent of students change their major at least once.

I have friends who are married with kids, I have friends who went back to school to get their degrees. I have friends who are living on unemployment and don't have anything figured out. Don't stress, just keep following what makes you happy.

7) "Be yourself" is a sort of meaningless phrase.
We hear this all the damn time. Sure, confidence (see #5) is the end goal, but to be yourself, you need to find yourself first!

Finding yourself is about discovering your values and the things you love doing. What does being a good friend mean to you? What subjects do you enjoy? What kinds of people do you like being around? What are you good at? What do you want to be good at? Who do you admire, and why? Discover your personality, your goals, your dreams. Get to know that person, and the rest will follow.

Now that I've told you the things I wish someone would have told me, I hope that you learn the biggest lesson of all: You are always growing, changing, and learning about yourself. That never stops, your whole life. But it starts now. So keep your priorities straight.

What are your priorities? YOU are.