My MS poster!
"Dear 16-year-old-me. Write a letter to yourself at age 16. What would you tell yourself? What would you make your younger self aware of?"
At 16, I was graduating HS, looking forward with a naive sense of possibility that only a teen can. Looking back, I think I would have told myself to be, oh, a little less in a rush:
Dear Sam: You feel on top of the world, and you have good cause to be proud. You're smart, fast, and enthusiastic, but not very socially bright. I have to say, perhaps you should learn to listen better. You'll need it in the future.
In addition, don't lean on your ability to get things quickly in school. I can tell you that you will hate math in the future if you don't dedicate some time to it and other subjects you're not very interested in. Don't wait until grad school to learn your limitations and push to overcome them.
You won't need to make everyone happy all the time-- so try to get over that. I know it will be hard, but your life will just be better.
Also, please enjoy the health and energy you have. It's too easy at such a young age to take everything for granted, including walking and seeing. Work out, play, and have fun, but do take care of yourself-- because ultimately, no one else will.
And know it'll probably be all right, but you may always have to be a little stronger, a little better, and a little faster than others, because the world won't be equitable in your lifetime. Don't let that get you down. But also know it's ok to get angry about it, and remember-- people will always say YOU'RE the one with the problems about race/gender/culture/politics, not their own unexamined selves.
Find friends. Find mentors. Find happiness in you, and remember to sit and be quiet once in a while, especially near water. You need that.