You Can Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger

February 29, 2024 Mahevash Shaikh

While randomly browsing the Internet in 2015, I came across a powerful phrase: Be who you needed when you were younger. At the time, I was a recent college graduate who had no idea what to do with her life. As a result, the phrase seemed irrelevant to someone like me. However, knowing what I know now, I am convinced that anyone can live by this motto if they want to. You can be who you needed to be when you were younger.

What Does It Mean to 'Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger?' 

From what I understand, "Be who you needed when you were younger" is a mantra that means you must give someone the support you wish you had received at a younger age. For example, do you remember your teenage years when you were angry with the world and had no one to guide you? The next time you see a teenager, remember that angst. Now, think: what if you could be the supportive adult you wished you had met when you were a teen? Sure, you never met such an adult then. But you could be that adult now if you wanted to -- and it wouldn't even take up much of your time or effort. Generally, all it takes is a listening ear, a word of encouragement, or a small act of kindness to make a meaningful impact on a younger person's life. 

The Mental Health Benefits of Being Who You Needed When You Were Younger

Apart from attracting good karma, I believe there are several mental health benefits of being who you needed when you were younger. Firstly, offering support and guidance to others can give you direction and a sense of purpose. For example, when I was a teen, I longed to hear from someone who shared and overcame their mental health struggles. So today, this is exactly what I do as a mental health blogger at HealthyPlace and on my personal blog. Simply knowing that I am helping distressed teenagers and young people, in general, navigate mental health challenges helps me feel that I am doing something meaningful with my life.

You don't have to share your stories on a public platform to help and support someone. You can change lives simply by daring to be authentic and sharing vulnerable stories from your past. 

Secondly, when you offer support and guidance to people, you build and strengthen relationships. According to research, when the quality of your social relationships improves, your mental health also improves.

"Social support refers to the emotionally sustaining qualities of relationships (e.g., a sense that one is loved, cared for, and listened to.) Hundreds of studies establish that social support benefits mental and physical health. Social support may have indirect effects on health through enhanced mental health, by reducing the impact of stress. Personal control refers to individuals' beliefs that they can control their life outcomes through their own actions. Social ties may enhance personal control, and, in turn, personal control is advantageous for health habits, mental health, and physical health."1

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, being who you needed when you were younger can improve your self-esteem. By sharing your struggles and coping mechanisms with others, you demonstrate your value to others -- and yourself. The fact that I can help others helps boost my confidence, and I am positive you will feel the same way when you help someone. The question is, are you ready to step up and make a difference?  


  1. Umberson, D., & Montez, J. K. (2010). Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health policy. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51(1_suppl), S54–S66.

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2024, February 29). You Can Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

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