How many times have you mused about the wisdom you would have liked to be privy to when you were a teenager? If you had an opportunity to hop in a Tardis and scoot back to have a heart-to-heart chat with your 14-year-old self, what advice would you give (assuming that the younger you would listen)? It’s more than likely that we’d all have different bits of guidance that we’d share with our younger selves, but these are 14 tips that I’d personally try to encourage a teenage “me” to consider seriously.
1. You Are Amazing Exactly As You Are
Ignore what other people want you to be, expect you to be, or encourage you to be. There is only one YOU in the entire universe, and you’re perfect just as you are. Don’t try to act like someone else or look a certain way just to make others happy: just be the most authentic you that you can be. Period.
2. Start Doing Yoga Now
Trust me, in twenty years, your body will thank you a thousand times over for having established a solid yoga practice while you’re in your teens.
3. Stay Present
Whether it’s through mindful meditation practice, keeping a stone in your pocket that you squeeze when your imagination starts to run wild, or through another technique that works best for you, learn to be in the present moment as much as possible. Let go of stupid crap as soon as it happens, and don’t dwell in “what if?” land: the past is ash and the future doesn’t exist. All we ever have is the current moment, so learn to inhabit it fully and you’ll never have to deal with anxiety about future events, or depression over what may have happened last week.
4. Stand Up for Yourself, But Also Stand Up for Others
It’s important to have a strong sense of self, but it’s just as important to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. This could be as simple as defending someone in your school who’s being bullied, or you might want to get involved in activism to help animals, the homeless, or a different cause that you believe in. Your voice carries far more weight than you can imagine.
5. Learn As Much As You Can
Knowledge can never be taken from you, and the more you learn, the more it will help you in life. Learn languages, learn to cook, to code, to can vegetables. Turn off the TV and go do some free classes, or read articles and books, or even spend some time learning from your grandparents. You’ll treasure this knowledge in the future, trust me.
6. Ignore Other People’s Opinions About You
The only person whose opinion matters is you. End of discussion. Other people can think whatever they like, but just because someone thinks something, doesn’t mean that it’s true, or valid, or should have any impact on how you live your life. There may be people who think that the Earth is flat, but just because they have an opinion about a subject doesn’t mean they’re right, or that you’re required to share said opinion.
7. Love Deeply, But Also Know When to Let Go
Love is a beautiful thing, but people change, and so do intimate relationships. There will be many crushes in your lifetime; many opportunities to have incredible connections with people, and each relationship has its life span. All things come to an end, and it’s far healthier to learn how to let go with grace than to cling to something that’s unhealthy just because you’re afraid of losing it.
8. Keep People In Your Life Who Enhance Your Life
Just as it’s important to recognize when it’s time to end a romantic relationship, it’s also vital to realize that friendships can have limited life spans as well. People can come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, and they’ll grow close/drift apart like the tides. When relationships no longer work, end them with love and respect, and move on. Friendships can grow toxic, and it’s important to recognize warning signs of friendship deterioration, and act accordingly.
9. Avoid Hazardous Situations
Don’t play red rover on train tracks at night, don’t have unprotected sex, don’t walk home alone after dark. Be sensible, realize that irresponsible actions can have dire consequences, and use common sense.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
We all need help on occasion, and there’s always someone who’s willing to help you if you reach out to them. Never feel that you’re totally alone, especially when dealing with a difficult situation. It’s okay to be vulnerable, and it’s more than okay to talk to someone you trust when you’re going through hell.
11. Try Your Best
This mostly applies to school, but it can also refer to extracurricular activities. High school sucks, but it’s over in a few short years, and what you do with your time there can have major influence on the rest of your life. Try your best to do well in your classes, switch schools if the curriculum and atmosphere in your current school aren’t right for you, and take advantage of opportunities as they come along.
12. Travel, If You Can
If you have the opportunity to do a foreign student exchange program, do it: it’ll widen your worldview exponentially.
13. Be Kind
Remember that acts of kindness are remembered and appreciated for a lifetime. How do you want to be remembered by your peers? Think of amazing, wonderful things that others have done for you, and how they’ve made you feel, and then pay the beauty forward.
14. Remember That Sharing DNA Doesn’t Always Equal “Family”
For some people, the family that they’ve been born into isn’t anywhere close to supportive. Some are neglectful, some are cruel and abusive, and some try to be functional but just can’t be. Some people find their “family” as they move through life, while others are fortunate enough to be born into a group that they mesh with well. Treasure those whom you consider family, and never put up with any measure of cruelty from someone just because you happen to be related to them by blood.