If you could speak to your teenage self and impart some of your wisdom on them, what would you say?
While much of it would probably relate to your very specific and personal circumstances, what advice would you give that could apply to all people in this age group?
Here are some things that we have come up with; ask yourself whether the teenagers in your life might benefit from hearing them.
1. Don’t Rush To Grow Up
When you reach your teenage years, you might wish to be treated more like an adult; to be given more independence and more say over your life, to wear more grown up clothes, to watch more grown up movies, and to do more grown up things.
Growing up shouldn’t, however, be something we try to make happen; it should just happen by itself as and when the right time comes. In all honesty, you should try to embrace your childhood for as long as you can because this is the time when you will live the most carefree of your days on this Earth.
2. Don’t Try To Plan Your Entire Life Out
It’s often in your teenage years that you first start thinking (or fantasizing) about your future. You might begin to consider the types of career you want to have or the lifestyle you want to lead. In some instances, particularly regarding your academic choices, you can lay some foundations for the future and outline a rough plan of what you’d like to do.
We would say to you, though, that you can’t always stick rigidly to a plan, no matter how well thought out it may be. While it is prudent to have some goals that you’d like to attain in life, you have to be accepting when things don’t follow the path you’ve set out.
One of the main pieces of advice to give in this regards is that you shouldn’t put specific time frames on the major events in your life. Whether it is your career progression, love life, home ownership goals, or desire to have children, you must be fully aware of the unpredictability of life. Having these things in mind is one thing, but trying to achieve them at certain stages of your life is another story altogether.
3. Friends Will Come And Go
While you should never underestimate the power of friendship to see you through the ups and downs, the fact of the matter is that very few of your current friends will remain your friends into adult life.
As much as this may be upsetting to hear, and however sad you may be when a friendship ends, you should know that a new one might be just around the corner. Not all friends drift apart, however, and what you’ll probably find is that those friendships you treasure most are the ones that you will go to the greatest lengths to maintain.
4. Cool Is Just A Matter Of Opinion
Speaking of friends, you may sometimes try to fit in with groups of people who you deem to be cool, but such a strategy rarely ever works out in the long term. Know that nobody is cool in absolute terms – that is to say that what one person views as cool, another will see as uncool.
If you spend too much time trying to conform to every possible fashion trend or other act of cool, then you’ll not have much time to be yourself. As clichéd as this sounds, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of just being you; by doing so, you will naturally attract, and be attracted to, people with whom you are most likely to form deep bonds, rather than the superficial ones that are likely when you try to put on an act.
Who cares if you play in the school band instead of the football team? And what does it matter if you prefer to spend time playing fantasy card games while other people hang out in the park? You are cool to your friends and they are cool to you, screw what other people think.
5. Saying No Is Fine
As a teenager, you may find that there is a lot of pressure to say yes to everything; this could come from your friends or from other people you know in and out of school. Peer pressure may sound like a joke to you, but as you go through this stage of your life, it will rear its ugly head on countless occasions.
A part of growing up is, of course, to make some mistakes and learn from them, but making a mistake because someone else told you to is hardly the freedom of expression that you may wish for as a young person.
You are probably more than happy to defy your parents on certain matters, and it shouldn’t be any different with friends and other influences.
And this doesn’t just relate to the obvious perils of drinking, smoking and drugs; any time you don’t feel like doing something, you should feel able to say no to it. Maybe some of your friends are going to the cinema, but you don’t really want to, or perhaps you get invited to go on holiday with a friend and her family when you’d find this a bit too awkward. It’s ok to say no to these and other opportunities that come your way.
6. You’re Not The Only One Who’s Anxious
Your teenage years can be some of the most physically and emotionally stressful of your life, and you will probably have a multitude of worries floating around your head at any one time.
You may think that you are alone in this, but pretty much every other person will be feeling the same or similar things at your age. You can certainly do things to try and reduce the intensity of these emotions, or you can just accept them as a part of your current reality and remind yourself that all your friends and peers are going through it too.
7. Seek Help When Things Get Too Much
There may come a time when the feelings and thoughts associated with being a teenager get too much, and it is then a good idea to seek help.
Help can come in many different guises from a heart-to-heart talk with a friend or family member, to external support services such as charities. The old saying that a problem shared is a problem halved is not far from the truth and relying on the help of others is not a sign of weakness, it is actually a sign of strength.
8. Stay Open Minded To The Views And Opinions Of Others
As you grow older, you begin to form your own world view and you might have very strong opinions on certain topics. These opinions will often be different to those held by other people and it is easy, at this age, to let these discrepancies spiral out of control into a full blown argument.
Instead, we would urge you to listen to what these other people are saying and be aware that their views are not necessarily a personal attack. There isn’t always a wrong and a right, and insisting that there is will only lead to down the road to conflict.
9. Your Views Will Change Over Time
Staying on the subject of the view you take of the world, you should accept that this will change as you progress through your teenage years and as you continue into your adult life.
You should embrace this process rather than fight against it. People change – you will change – and it is only natural that your take on certain things will change with it. If you try to hold on to your previously expressed opinions, you will only push the conflict inwards which serves no purpose at all.
10. Trust Your Gut
We humans have been blessed with an innate sense that informs us what is and isn’t right for us in any given situation. You should follow this intuitive gut feeling as much as you can because it will generally do right by you.
11. Don’t Aspire To Monetary Wealth
Desiring to be rich in the material sense is an easy trap for people to fall into, especially as a teenager. Up until this age, you haven’t necessarily had to deal with money, but it is often the time in your life when you first start to work and receive a pay packet of your own.
Having this money is an extremely liberating and empowering feeling and it might seem that having more of it would only make your life more enjoyable. As was discussed in this article on what we should aspire to in life, true wealth goes far beyond the realms of money. The type of abundance that it talks about is a more suitable goal to set your sights on.
The Conscious Rethink: while your sense of self is always evolving, it is largely during your teenage years that you lay the foundation for who you are and who you are going to be. While many teenagers will scoff at any advice you might try to give them, some of it will stick in their minds, so think about imparting some of the above on those present in your life.