I’d love to dedicate this post to my little sister, who is 17 years old and still in high school.
These tips would have helped me feel better and be the best version of myself if I would have received them back when I was a teenager.
For me, my teen years were the worst of my life, and they still vividly live in my memory. My parents used to tell me that when I grew up, I would regret wanting to be an adult and all I would wish for was to be a teenager and be in school again.
Well, this never happened. I’ve never wished to go back to my teens—ever.
Even when I turned 30, I was glad I could leave my 20s behind, when at the same time all my friends were crying for their lost youth. They started going to parties and dressing like highschoolers again, trying to reconnect with something they think they missed out on in their younger years.
As a teenager, I used to be the “all-knowing genius” who had a scathing reply to everything, which was usually accompanied by devilish eye-rolling and pouting. I also had selective hearing, would complain about everything all day long, and was rebellious and really freakin’ disrespectful.
Sound like someone you know? Probably every other teenager, right?
And I don’t want to speak badly about teenagers. I know many of them are talented, kind, well-behaved, appreciative, reliable, and polite.
But here’s a list of things I wish I’d known when I was a teenager and what I believe teenagers these days should learn:
1. Make the most out of your time.
You are in school and you have to study and work hard for exams, but you are also in a stage of your life where you have no real obligations. You have more free time now, so take advantage of that time to nurture your mind, either by learning new skills and perfecting them or learning a new language. Take time to find out what are you passionate about—it might even help you discover what you want to do in the future.
2. Keep your space organized and help with household chores.
Keeping your room clean will make you feel more comfortable in your own space and helps to keep your head clear as well. Psychologist Jordan Peterson believes that only by taking care of our immediate surroundings can we move onto bigger life challenges. And I couldn’t agree more.
Helping at home with chores will make you feel accomplished and allow you to contribute something to the family. And when the time comes that you have to live alone, you will know how to do these things without causing a disaster, having to call your mom all the time, or having to find someone else to do it for you. Trust me, becoming independent as soon as possible is the best thing.
3. Don’t try to be perfect.
When I was young I tried really hard to fit in and look like anyone else. It was a waste of time. As an adult, I don’t want to be like everyone else but I do want to become the best version of myself. I think that trying to be like others was a stepping stone to realizing it isn’t what I want but I wish someone would have advised me to start looking for my own style earlier. I wish someone could have taught me how to cultivate good self-esteem, be kind, and understand that by being myself I will automatically look pretty.
4. Don’t do what everyone else does.
Peer pressure is real but you don’t have to do what everyone else does if you don’t like it. Don’t let yourself be influenced by other people, be it your friends or family. If you don’t like drinking alcohol or smoking then don’t do it. Whatever people say, be true to yourself and take care of your body, mind, and soul.
The opinions of others do not define you; it is only their perspective and you don’t have to make it yours. Not everyone is going to like you, so don’t try to fit into a group of people who don’t really bring anything positive into your life.
5. Don’t focus on dating too much.
It’s normal to feel interested in dating, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Those experiences can help you improve and grow as a person but don’t let this become your top priority. Focus on yourself first, and don’t desperately look for someone to date because the right person will come along when you least expect it.
Many people seek to be with someone only because they do not know how to be with themselves and this makes relationships toxic and unhealthy. I lost my virginity pretty late (at 21), and it’s still something I think of as a good thing. If I look back at all my classmates who lost theirs early, I spared myself a load of bad experiences, early sexual burnout, and regrets.
Oh, and those butterflies in your stomach? That’s not love at all. I wish I had known that feeling flushed, embarrassed, and flustered mean you are nervous—not that you’re in love.
6. More time outdoors, less time on social media.
Teenagers nowadays spend more time glued to their phones than in the real world and waste a lot of time that could be spent doing other things. In my time, we didn’t have Facebook and Instagram but used MSN and MySpace a lot. I wish I would have spent more time actually going out in the real world with friends, do activities outside, and reducing the time I spent on my computer. It took me too long to understand that online friendships are nothing like real-life friendships and shared experiences.
7. Your problems won’t last forever.
Stop worrying about everything! It’s normal to do it because you’re at an age where you’re facing many changes, but worrying won’t bring anything positive to your life. Learn about emotional intelligence, write a diary, repeat positive affirmations, meditate a little every day, have a positive outlook on life and realize that your problems will slowly fade away.
8. Start taking care of your body and health.
Dedicate time to cultivate good daily habits, learn proper skincare, take time for yourself, practice sports or go to the gym, and learn to eat healthy. But most importantly, don’t do it only to look pretty but to take care of your body because it is your home on this planet. Your body needs to be healthy and strong so you can live many beautiful experiences and fulfill your goals. Also, don’t reach for seemingly quick fixes like laxatives or diet pills or starving yourself or over exercising—they will only damage your system.
9. Start working early and save money for the future.
Money doesn’t grow on trees and your parents won’t sponsor your life for long. I wish I had started student jobs earlier in life and saved up all the money I would have earned. It might not sound like something you want to do in your free time, but it will make your adult life easier when obligations like working every day and paying taxes cuts off a huge part of your salary.
10. Make quality investments.
I wish someone would have taught me this when I was a kid. Instead of throwing my money out the window by buying cheap and low-quality stuff, it would’ve been great to learn about brands and quality materials and how to invest in stuff (even if it’s just clothes) that are long-lasting and durable, even if they are pricey. This philosophy can be extended to anything you purchase, from shoes to actually investing your money into companies.
11. Your “dumb” parents have feelings too.
As a teenager, I never thought of my parents as fellow humans, somehow they were just that—parents. I never considered that they have feelings just like me, and what I do or say can hurt them the same way they hurt me sometimes. I wish I could’ve realized their humanness and mortality way sooner, and tried to understand them and work toward building a good relationship instead of turning our home into a battle field.
What would you add to the list?