What Would You Say To 16 Year Old You?

by Gisela Ayala

Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hi! I’m Gisela, and I am an extremely passionate bookworm and traveler. If I enjoy something I become absolutely enamored.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“It’s not about you.” No one I personally know told me that, I got that from the Dr. Strange movie, but it has become my mantra ever since. We sometimes live in a very self-absorbed world, and I am guilty many times of being self-absorbed. When that happens, I whisper to myself “It’s not about you,” and it helps to realize that everyone else is the protagonist of their own life and I’m just a side character. It’s very centering.

What would you say to 16 year old you?
It’s okay to show your emotions, to be unapologetically you. Give yourself room to be who you need to be at that moment in time.

Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
Yes, an ex-boyfriend. I was in a very toxic relationship and very insecure. I was always trying to be this “cool” girl to him and what was happening was that I was becoming less and less of myself the longer I stayed with him. There were so many things I wanted to do and he never believed I could accomplish them.

What message do you think every woman should hear?
Be alone with yourself for some time. Learn to love yourself and the journey you are on. You’ll never really know who you are, or who you want to be until you confront your own thoughts. That won’t happen until you can separate yourself from anything or anyone that holds you back. It’s a very sobering process but completely necessary if you ever want to do anything in life whether it’s fall in love, change careers, or maybe solve world hunger (still trying to figure that one out).

What is your favorite thing about where you live?
Florida is a very strange place. It’s one of the odd lands that you either adore or loathe entirely. I’ve lived here most of my life but also travel frequently and no place has felt like home quite like Florida does. It also helps that Disney World is 30 minutes away from my home.

What do you love most about yourself?
I love that I’m always curious about absolutely everything!

Why do you love to travel?
We are citizens of this world, and I pride myself on being open to new experiences and make my mark as a global citizen. Traveling is very eye-opening. You see how little of a space you take up in the world. It’s a humbling experience to see how similar we all are.  

What motivates you most?
Myself, I’m pretty a pretty good intrinsic motivator. But sometimes if I need a little push I think of my niece. I always want to be amazing and brilliant and a real person in her eyes. You know how earlier I said forget about cool, that doesn’t count with my niece. I always want to be cool to her!

How do you manage your work-life balance?
Despite my book blogging and traveling, I still have a full-time job. Which is okay! Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a book called “Big Magic,” and it’s all about finding that balance or magical moments in your day. If I take a 15-minute break at work, I’ll read or go on a walk while listening to an audio-book. I’m also always planning my next trip and I’m very fortunate to work in an environment where everyone is kind of expected to take advantage of days off and go explore.

What is your favorite meal?
A cup of strong coffee made on the Italian espresso machine and some toasted Cuban or French bread with good butter. I can eat that Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

What is something on your bucket list?
Hike up to Everest Base Camp and not pass out.

What are your biggest passions?
Reading, absolutely 100% reading. It’s exceeded the point of being a hobby and I do it to live. I truly believe that reading anything and everything and making sure everyone has equal access to books will change the world. Reading about experiences that you have never had builds empathy and that is a crucial human emotion. But also, it is a magical experience seeing someone open a book and realize they aren’t alone in the world. To have someone understand.

More About Gisela

Gisela Ayala is a traveler and book blogger that writes reviews and essays about reading. She has two book clubs – “Booked for the Weekend” and “British Book Club (BBC).” Gisela strives to promote reading to her peers and to find the perfect book to turn you into a bookworm. She also enjoys exploring Florida and going to museums.
Gisela is and always will be a life-long learner.

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