I can still remember like it was happening yesterday: the angst, frustrations and unease. I can still smell my fear and cringe when I remember all the stupid things I did and thought and said. My skin never seemed to fit. As soon as I felt like I grew into being someone, the unease started all over again. And love! The love! The very-much-there love and the no-I-don’t-want-you love … Ouch!
I’ve spent quite some time with a number of teens and just seeing the same struggle in their eyes has made me want to be there for them in some way, shape or form. I understand. Most of us understand. Knowing what I know today makes me want to give comfort somehow and try help see that it does get better. Your skin will one day fit as snug as a bug in a rug and you will be more than okay. That’s why I decided to write down a list of ten things us “adults” see as truths and teens probably see as bull**** . Hopefully someone out there will find a little comfort.
1. You won’t feel like this forever.
I know it’s hard to see that little glimmer of light on the other end of the tunnel, aptly named “Growing Up”. School sucks and your teachers seem to hate you just as much as you think you hate them, you feel like you’re alone and have no friends, plus your parents are being complete A-holes on so many levels. Yeah … It will pass. The tension will ease up and you’ll find that you’re a little bit less angry every day. Be patient with yourself and be patient with others. Breathe.
2.You don’t have to be like everyone else to fit in.
We all do this: change ourselves in order for people to like us. We hide our passions and don’t voice our dislikes, we make stupid choices, because we want to feel accepted. Well, you don’t need to do this. You are unique and as you probably already know, there never has been, there isn’t and there never will be anyone like you. No matter how much you try to change the way you look, the way you talk or how your mind works; you’ll always be different from everyone else and every single person in this world will fail at trying to capture your essence. Isn’t that beautiful? This is a fact that should be embraced, not shunned.
The media tries to instruct us on what’s beautiful and we all find ourselves trying to fit certain categories. It’s hard work being thin and athletic at the same time and eat healthy; hard being smart and dumb in order to make people think you’re extra cute and it’s hard to make everyone else happy. You’ll end up being miserable yourself. The entire world of media is fake. Why trust something that does nothing but lie to you on every step?
3. You are smarter than you think.
It’s so easy to be hard on yourself. We all seem to focus more on the negative than we do on the positive. I don’t really know why we do it, but it’s definitely not just a teen trend. But now’s the time to get rid of all you negativity about your brain and its capabilities. You really are smarter than you think. And sure, school is very important, but there is one thing I’d really like to instil in your heart: Grades in school DO NOT determine your intelligence. They sure as heck help determine your future and that’s why I think they’re important, but they cannot quantify your brain’s capabilities.
4. Not everyone will always like you.
Simple fact of life. And guess what? You won’t like everyone either. Just make sure you pay equal respect to those you like and dislike. There are so many of us on this planet and all of us with specific stories that helped build who we are. This means we’re all different, but still human and still very much entitled to being treated with respect.
No matter how much you try, you’ll always find at least one person disliking you. And for the time being, this matter of fact might hurt. You want everyone to know that you’re awesome. And you are. But why waste your shine on people who will be negative not matter how much you try?
5. Be yourself.
This is very much easier said than done, I know. I’m 29 years old and have days when I’m at a complete loss with myself. I’ve learned, though, that my complete loss of myself is a part of me, like everything else. It is obviously in my personality to have an emotional roller-coaster of a life. I can, of course, work on my flaws, but I can also accept that they’re there in the first place and choose my path from there. You’ll discover something new about yourself every day, especially if you take the time to listen. We are all unique works of art in forever progress. Some people might stand in front of us as if we were on exhibit, tilt their head in confusion, because they’ve no idea what we’re supposed to represent and it all looks like a great big pile of turds. Well, let them go on their merry way knowing full-well that there will be people who will stand to look for hours, never ceasing to find a new beautiful shape that makes them love you.
6. Respect and cherish your parents (and everyone else for that matter).
Your parents are probably the only people in your entire life who will love you unconditionally. Sure, you didn’t choose to be born, you didn’t choose your socio-economic status, you didn’t choose much of what is going on around you and has a direct or indirect effect on your life. You want to be someone and have a voice, yet feel helpless. But remember: your parents love you UNCONDITIONALLY. Can you even begin to comprehend how important that is? Don’t take them for granted. You never know when you might loose them, so don’t waste your time being horrible towards them (even if they embarrass the living daylights out of you).
Being respectful and kind to everything surrounding you is such a magical way of being. It’s your way of actually and directly impacting the entire planet. You never know how one act of your kindness that cost you nothing improves a stranger’s day and because of that that stranger will feel like they can pay the kindness forward. Even a smile can brighten up someone’s life and help them go on. Respect cultures, religions, opinions, thoughts and view-points.
7. Explore your sexuality on your own terms.
You want to love and feel loved. We all do, it’s not just a teen predisposition. A part of that is exploring your sexuality. Love is one of the most wonderful things life has to offer and physical love is definitely a big part of it. But relationships are not just sex. They’re friendship, partnership, companionship and so so much more. Don’t let anyone pressure you into something you really don’t want to do, but think that the other person won’t love you any more if you say no. If that’s the case, they really don’t deserve you. Really and truly.
The person worthy of your body should love you and you should love them back. A part of that is being patient when one is ready to take the next step and the other isn’t. You’ll know when it’s right. And you have the right to say “no”, be heard and loved not in spite, but because you chose to stay true to yourself.
8. Education is important.
They teach us all the wrong things in school. Very true. My opinion on school is pretty much summed up by this very eloquent piece of art:
I don’t, on the other hand, agree with the very last words: “Don’t stay in school.” I’d say that more than not staying in school, we should focus on letting our teens find their own future and find what feels right for them. This includes making mistakes and learning actively from them. If you let it, school will give you the discipline you need to help you accomplish becoming the person who you want to be. Every relationship gives you opportunities to learn. Even with flawed systems like school. So stay in school and make sure the decisions you make are the ones that most honor your life, the person you are and the person you want to become.
Just because something isn’t working for you or your generation, does not mean you have to give up and walk away. Why not recognize the challenges your school system is faced with and do something about it? Be active in helping shape your education system and see what happens …
9. Don’t throw away your inner child.
Do you remember how uninhibited you were as a small child? How nothing really mattered if it didn’t include you exploring, playing and having fun? How you could just laugh and giggle just because you could? Do you remember how that felt? Has it started to go away and the world seems to suck the last remembrance of fun out of you? Well, don’t let it! Smile, giggle and laugh! Look up every now and again and try to spot something beautiful. It will keep you happy and grounded.
10. You can do anything you set your mind to.
When hearing about success stories, we only hear the good parts. Sure, there might be some struggles mentioned, but it’s all usually clean-cut. So when we start a project of our own, we give up so quickly, because we seem to think our time is up and we’ll never get it right. If we failed once, we’ll always fail. Then we let this failure (that is really inconsequential when you really think about it, by the way) spill over to all aspects of our lives and we become failures ourselves.
There really is no need to put yourself down. There are so many people doing just that in your name. Why join them? So many of us have dreamt and let our dreams go just because people have told us to “get real” when we voiced our dreams our loud. Try to find supporters, not haters for your dreams. And when you do, listen to constructive criticism, not criticism out of spite or jealousy.
Although this is a little something I wrote for my teens out there, it’s safe to say we can all live with these ten “rules”. No matter how old you are, you can find a little sometin’ in my words to try and live by. I know I can :).