Think back on your teenage years. Awkward, right? How many things do you wish you had know then? How different would your life be if you could go back and change just the slightest thing? Here are 10 things you wish you knew when you were a teenager.

1. You can (and should) be weird!

First and foremost! This is the most important lesson of all. Every teenager is strange—even the straight-A, social butterflies. It’s learning to embrace this weirdness that is so hard to do. When you’re a teenager, you just want to fit in. You want to blend into the crowd and graduate without being picked on. Ironically, as a an adult, it’s important to be unique. It’s at this point that you look back on your strange teenage self and wish you had embraced it then.

2. You always have a choice.

Don’t feel stuck. Not in anything, be it a friendship, a relationship, a class, or a college path. You’re young, and you have your whole life ahead of you! Don’t get trapped in anything. A single choice can change your life, and you’re at the perfect age to take a different track.

3. You can be anything you want.

You don’t have to become a lawyer because your father is one. You’re in high school, with your whole life ahead of you. What do you want to do? Don’t be discouraged by pressure from grown-ups or counselors. If you love art or music, follow your dreams! But be practical: think of the life you’re trying to make for yourself, and figure out how you can get there.

4. You don’t have to be a follower.

High school is the prime time to gossip and spread rumors. It’s when it’s “cool” to start drinking and smoking. Everybody’s doing it, but you don’t have to. Rise above the petty drama and be your own person. Stay on the right path and you’ll accomplish more in one semester than the majority will accomplish in their entire high school careers.

5. Your thoughts create things.

Ideas are a gold mine. A comic book about a blue werewolf? Start drawing! Don’t discount anything you think. This is the age when your ideas make you feel like you could conquer the world—and you probably could! Don’t talk yourself out of anything. Follow through on anything that crosses your mind. Providing, of course, that it isn’t dangerous or flat-out ridiculous—no flying on homemade wings!

6. Cherish your friends.

Your friends have your back. They support you when you have to tackle a difficult presentation, and they’ll talk you down off the ledge when you have a failing grade. Cherish these relationships. Friendships in high school are so valuable because you learn a lot from them about what type of person you want to be, and how you’ll treat friends later.

Nela & Boris at Lighthouse Point complex - Collingwood, Ontario (August 2nd, 2008)

7. Don’t forget your friends.

This is not a restatement of the last tip. This one is regarding relationships. Too often, teenagers let their boyfriends or girlfriends become their world. Just know that no significant other is better than your true friends. It might seem like it at the time, and the relationship might make you feel special, and you might really like kissing…but more than likely, you’ll be single before too long. An you know who will still be there? Your real friends.

8. You need to learn forgiveness.

It’s too easy to hold a grudge when someone wrongs you. The hardest part is forgiving someone—but it’s also the most rewarding. If your friend ditches you for a new special someone, even if you never did that to a friend (because you knew, right?), take your friend back when they need you. Be kind and open and forgiving, and you’ll be a person everyone thinks favorably about.

9. Don’t try to be cool.

Don’t work too hard to be cool. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t do drugs. Don’t do anything you feel pressured to do. Do things because they’re the right things and you want to do them. Do that, and you know what? You will be cool.

teenesteem

10. Love yourself.

Read over all these tips again—do you notice a trend? They’re all about being yourself and being true to yourself, which culminates in loving yourself. This might hurt, but it’s best to learn now: There will always be someone better looking than you, more popular than you, smarter than you. Don’t fight it. Don’t hate them because of what they are, and don’t hate yourself for what you think you’re not. Love who you are and be the best you possible.

Life as a teenager was complicated and chaotic for me. 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was A Teenager

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