Advice I wish I could give my 16-year old self

advice for life by Miriam Schulman

Inspiration quote Art by Miriam Schulman
Decorate Your Own Soul

I was asked to give a talk at the local high school’s Art Honor Society induction ceremony. I am honored to speak to this group because I am very familiar with their community service since my daughter was part of this group last year. She loved doing art projects with the underprivileged children in the White Plains Coachman Family Center. Although she is more involved with music now, there are so many ways to help people and give joy through art.

Magic is Believing in Yourself

The group asked me to talk about myself, my art and anything else. I decided to tell them what I wish I could tell my sixteen year old self and hopefully learn something from that. When I was in high school I was a very motivated student and took every honors class I could. I didn’t take art classes, but I continually doodled in the margins of my notebooks creating fantastic pencil portraits of all my teachers and boys I had crushes on. On the other hand, my mother exposed me to lots of art through museum visits and creativity was always a part of our everyday lives. My father had passed away when I was five years old which is why I was so determined to get into the best school I possibly could and get a career that would give me financial independence. I did study Art History in college but my first career was in finance after I got a Masters in engineering from M.I.T. After my second child, I decided to take a risk and try a career in art instead. At first, I sold watercolor portraits and art in the park and later discovered how I could also sell my art on the internet. Now I sell my art all over the world and my art is being licensed on products for home decor.  My life took a meandering path, but that is also true of many people.

Live by What you Believe

Here is what I wished I had known when I was in high school and college…

1. The world will change in ways you can not even imagine.

There will be different jobs available in the future that don’t exist now so don’t worry about what you are going to study in college. Just study what you are passionate about. I did eventually switch my major from engineering to Art History and made engineering my minor; however, there were no eCommerce jobs when I was in college so I couldn’t even have imagined selling my art on the internet. The world is continually changing and there will be different opportunities 20 years from now as well that don’t exist today. Successful people continually reinvent themselves. I don’t think Steve Jobs said to himself when he was sixteen, “When I grow up I am going to invent the ipad”

2. College is not vocational school.

Use that as your mantra whenever well meaning friends and relatives ask you what you plan to do with your philosophy major. You are getting an education and learning how to write and think so that your ideas can rock the world.

3.Beer is very fattening.

4. Pay attention and be present.

If you are continually wishing to move time forward then there is something wrong with what you are doing or your attitude. I offhandedly mentioned to my Drama club’s adviser that I couldn’t wait until finals were over. He very sternly told me never to wish for time to pass. That message didn’t sink in until the following year when he died of AIDs.

5. Research your options carefully. ….

I wish someone has said to me “Just because your father went to Dartmouth and you think you have the best chance getting in there doesn’t mean you should apply early decision without at least visiting the college first.” (like what I did…)6

6. Don’t waste energy being jealous.

You never know the ending of other people’s stories. My best friend had a boyfriend in high school and I didn’t. Guess what..he was gay and came out of the closet in college. By the way, you also don’t always know the real beginnings and the middles of other people’s stories.

7. B and C students rule the world.

Straight A students are very good academics– that means they would make excellent professors. The most important skills in life do not get graded.

8. You can always change your mind!

Life is wonderful, beautiful and crazy but most importantly unpredictable. Be prepared to change. Dream but always Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.

9. Your life is a canvas.

We all have the opportunity to be creative with our lives. Your life is the greatest masterpiece you will make. 

Be Yourself. Everyone else is already taken.


7 thoughts on “Advice I wish I could give my 16-year old self”

  1. Sent to my son with a junior daughter (16) and a freshman daughter 18, some of the advise we gave to this son. He listened and did well.

  2. Love your comments. Our world is changing so rapidly that we can’t imagine what life will be like in the next 10-20 years. Therefore, I think the best skill we need to develop is resilience. And we have to keep hope in our hearts as well.


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I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.

I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.

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