10 Things I Learned from Being a Teen

So, I’m currently 19, which means that this is the last year of my teenage existence. In honor of that, here’s ten life lessons I learned as I reflect on my time as a teen.

  1. There will be times you disagree with your parents. Note, these are disagreements. Disagreements mean that this is not the end of the world. Adults disagree with each other all the time. The next step of being an adult isn’t lashing out in further anger. It’s finding a peaceful solution.
  2. You shouldn’t ignore mental health. I know you have five thousand tests to study for, fifty college applications to finish, a track meet on Thursday, and a boy/girlfriend situation drama to deal with. I know sleep seems like something that can be replaced by coffee/Red Bull/ Monster. Now, there’s something called mental health. You need to sleep to keep it somewhat functioning. And, if it gets really bad, you don’t need to suffer alone. Talk to someone you trust. Seek therapy or free means of therapy. Don’t let mental health spiral in solitude. Just because you feel alone, doesn’t mean you have to be.
  3. Friends drift apart. It happens all the time. It’ll probably happen a lot more in adulthood when you have to move to secure a job or someone else moves away to live with a relative. It’ll happen when somebody goes to a different college than you, or any other time when life branches out (e.g. weddings or a newborn in the future). It’s not required for you to keep that friendship. You only have to maintain it if you want to. There’s no obligation, and if friendship drifts apart, it’s not the end of the world.
  4. You’ll F*** up. That’s okay. We all do. It’s part of being human. If you mess up in a relationship, pursue a major that isn’t for you, fail a test, or do badly at a sports/academic competition, that’s okay too. If you said something you shouldn’t have, then apologize and move on. Don’t beat yourself up about the past. It’s past. YOU CANNOT CHANGE IT. Always look to the present and future, or else you’ll be stuck in a rut.
  5. Relationships aren’t everything. Yeah, it’s a big deal in high school since high school is a teeming pit of social hierarchies, hormones, cattiness, cliques, and THAT DREADED MATH TEST IN FIFTH PERIOD. But who goes to what dance with what date doesn’t define you. Being single doesn’t define you. Just pursue your passions in life, and if your significant other doesn’t want you to do what you love, then dump them. You only live for so long, why live with a jackass? PLEASE SEEK HELP IF YOU SUSPECT YOU SUFFER FROM RELATIONSHIP ABUSE.
  6. You don’t need your life figured out. It’s high school. You should enjoy it. It’s not something you need to “win”. It’s a stepping stone to your future, not the finish line.
  7. Bullies don’t disappear. They’ll exist for the rest of your life because hurting people like to hurt others to make their sad selves feel good. It’s how you deal with bullies that changes. Learn how to get help, or how to exit toxic situations by finding those you trust, and getting aid from other people.
  8. If something matters to you, don’t stay silent. Speak out for your beliefs. You shouldn’t have to suffer just because others judge you. People will judge you all your life. Don’t let others control how you view yourself at the end of the day.
  9. Looks aren’t everything. Yes, high school is superficial. Yes, the world is superficial. But will you move on past high school and find that intelligence goes farther than looks, or creativity goes farther than your fashion sense? Yes. Don’t hate yourself for your size, your hair, your skin, or your face. The world is cruel, but self-harm is never the answer. Chase your passions, don’t chase a mirror.
  10. Do what you love. Does high school make you feel like you have to fit a certain stereotype? Do you feel like you can’t like video games or talk about loving books because that’s nerdy? Do you feel like you can’t talk to “those people” because they’re less popular than you? News flash, people are PEOPLE, not rungs on some invisible social ladder. Do things you love because you love them, not because somebody else assigns some stupid value to what you love doing. Yeah, I’m going to be cliche and say “be true to yourself”. Because it’s the best advice there is, and who knows, maybe one day… somebody will actually listen.

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