Being a teenager was fun and horrible, a disaster and a delight. I don't know if I would want to relive those years, but if I ever get the chance, I know I'll spend a lot of time cringing. I decided to write up a list of things I wish I had known as a teenager. Young uns, take notes. Or copy/paste. I know how this works.
1. Your body is on drugs. Parents talk about hormones, and they are either talking about that brand-new sex drive, or they are talking about "hormones." You know, crying-rage-hysteria fits followed by gallons of ice cream - three days a week. When my parents talked about it, it usually sounded dismissive. Well, I'm not dismissing hormones. I am telling you that your body, like everyone else's, has to medicate itself - serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, melatonin, and adrenaline are only a few. During your teenage years, your body's inner pharmacy has no freaking idea what it's doing. For all intents and purposes, your body is high on its own meds. Keep that in mind when your vision turns red.
2. All of your friends' bodies are on drugs. In case you were wondering why that "super nice girl" hates you. Or that guy has decided you don't exist.
3. You'll lose a lot of friends.... because people grow up. Sometimes we need friends that are temporary. The friends I had at thirteen are not necessarily people that I would be friends with today. However...
4. The important ones will stick. If you are afraid you'll lose a friend because they are really and truly important to you (and not just because they are familiar) you don't need to worry so much. Chances are, they'll stick around.
5. Your questions and concerns are valid. While your tone of voice often leaves something to be desired, your questions about your world, sexuality (including your own), your faith, and your family are valid. Keep knocking. Be respectful, but remember that respect is not the same thing as piping down. David very politely told King Saul he was being an idiot, went out, and killed a giant. But first, he got permission.
6. Your parents can see the child in you. I remember feeling like the adult in me was trying to get out. Sometimes the inner pharmacy went crazy, and sometimes I just needed to cuddle with my mom for five hours. I was usually to proud to ask. I regret that, because I know now that I can see the child in the teenagers I know, and I'm sure my parents saw the child in me.
7. Your parents can see the adult in you. The adult is frustratingly inconsistent, and yet the adult is also gaining ground on their precious, rock-eating child. Be patient. Do your best to let the adult make the decisions. And I mean real adult decisions, not things that make you look grown-up.
8. You can experiment in a scientific environment. By that, I mean that you need to be in safe situations. Go ahead and change your fashion or make-up. Try a new sport. There is no safe way to try drugs and drinking is illegal. Outside of your own house, without your parents present, drinking is not scientific. It's not a controlled environment.
9. Literally nothing (except basic hygiene) makes you cool. Except the guitar. Or surfing. But seriously, no matter who you are, you will outgrow your teenage self. Try to take the pressure off yourself. You don't have to impress anyone right now. These are your teenage years. Be who you are, but remember, science. Also, don't neglect hygiene. That was not my struggle (OCD life for the win) but I remember being around teenagers. The hygienic ones are not impressed by greasy hair. FIX IT.
10. Your sober morals need to be grown into convictions. Even if you don't drink or do drugs, you have the inner pharmacists who are terrible at their jobs (don't worry, they eventually improve). However, the way you feel about issues when the inner pharmacists are doing their job well should be the way you act when you feel like you are going insane. I don't care how mad you are; throwing things and hitting people is not okay. Verbal abuse is bad. No one owes you sex. If you aren't comfortable with premarital sex when you are not aroused, don't let arousal change your mind. My big thing was yelling. I yelled a lot. That was not okay. Sorry, mom.
11. Most of your teenage problems will go away. There are things that happened during my teenage years that I still have to work through, but the situations themselves have resolved. Everything turned out alright in the end.
12. Your taste in books, music, and movies is not weird. There will be many a friendship down the road based on what you really enjoy now. Enjoy your own tastes.
13. Despite what they say, you really do need to eat well. Not only will it save you from health problems, but you really want to learn how to cook sooner rather than later. I lucked out and had two years out of high school but still at home (ages 16 to early 18), but the more you can learn young, the better.
14. Your faith is not childish. It needs to be child-like, but not in mentality. Be wise, but be trusting. God loves you. That will be difficult to believe on some days. You will struggle. However, your faith can make it through; don't forget, God also wants you to believe in Him. Talk to Him about your doubts. He's a good grown-up. He can take it.
15. Not every trend looks good on you. Remember what I said about experimenting? If you don't get a good result from one thing, it's not your fault.
16. On that note, your face will fix itself. It will take way too long, but the acne and weird proportions will clear up. Also, foundation goes a long way on a rough day.
17. No one has it figured out. Nobody. Not your parents, not your teachers, not your friends. However, the people older than you have probably got being a teenager figured out. This is a key distinction. I still remember advice I got from twenty-somethings as a young teen that was incredibly impactful. Ask for advice, and remember that your heroes are human. That doesn't mean, by the way, that you shouldn't have heroes. I believe wholeheartedly in admiration. Just remember that they don't have their own age quite figured out. They just got there.
18. Do your best in school. Whatever your grades are, you should do your best work. That's the kind of thing that makes the first two years of college feel natural.
19. Your dreams can change. Dream big, but plan small. Plan for the next step; often the next step will lead you somewhere unexpected. It's a journey; enjoy it.
20. You are loved. There are people in your life who love you and want you to succeed, who think you are awesome, and who know that it sucks. Be ready to fail and to succeed beyond what you ever imagined. These years end, but you get to decide how they do and what kind of adult will come out the other side. Be ready; it's the ride of your life thus far.
What else would you add? Leave a comment!