I met up with friends from my old high school a while back.
During such get-togethers, we can’t help but reminisce about our awkward teenaged selves.
As adults, we now find it entertaining to make fun of our more immature selves and all the elements in our young lives that seemed like life-and-death situations worthy of everyone’s attention.
Throughout the evening, we poked fun at every embarrassing event and detail from our school uniforms and cringeworthy hairstyles (hello Aquanet!) to crushes and fights. We laughed at our naiveté and ignorance to realize that the problems we fussed so much over were but trivial to the reality of the world outside of us.
As amusing as all our teenage issues were, most of us expressed the desire to go back in time to redo some things in our young lives.
If only we had known then that there are more important things than a bad hair day, a petty fight with a friend, our crushes, and the zits on our faces, probably we’d live our lives with a more selfless perspective and much less unnecessary drama. But during the terrible teen years, everything is about “me.” We are masters at sweating the smallest stuff. Nothing else mattered much and selflessness was too big of a word to master.
On the way home, I thought of what I would tell my teenaged self.
First, I’d sit her down and give her a little wake-up slap.
Then I’d tell her this:
Your life doesn’t suck. Look around and see the blessings you have. One day when you have to work for food or toilet paper, you will realize how lucky you are right now.
Teen angst is overrated. Yes, you’re confused, irritable, and agitated—probably from all the sugar. But really, the world isn’t against you unless you’re a racist terrorist sociopath and on the Top 10 wanted list—you’re most likely not, and that’s good. But why don’t you put all that sugar-induced energy into good use like doing something that positively contributes to yourself or your community?
Your family isn’t crazy or evil. Though your parents seem like the devil incarnate and your siblings are spawns of Satan, they are still your family. Unfortunately, you can’t choose family but you have the choice to make life easier by getting along.
Study a bit harder. You don’t need to be the top in your class but do put more effort in your studies. Unless you paid your own expensive private school tuition, you owe it to your parents to do better. They could’ve put you somewhere else or made you work for a living. Start figuring out what you want to be and work towards it. You don’t want to go into University lost and ignorant like a deer in headlights taking eight years to graduate. Try different hobbies or venture into your interests to form what you can successfully become one day.
Put your allowance to good use and start saving money to invest in something very important for your future like property, stocks, or traveling.
Speaking of travel, do so, either domestically or internationally. If you can’t travel while studying, travel after your studies and do it a lot. Because this will help shape your identity, widen your cultural horizons, and the knowledge you will gain is beyond the books you study or the frivolities you hear at school.
Leave the drama to television. So your friends hung out with someone else or your other friend talked negatively about you behind your back—there’s no need to start weaving voodoo dolls or plotting revenge at them Carrie-style, nor is there a need for embarrassing crying scenes along the halls.
People come and go in life—and so will gossip.
Instead, develop quality friendships. They say one’s best friends are formed in school years, so get to know your friends and treasure the genuine ones because these are the people you will be seeing throughout you life and even with a long absence, you will pick up the conversation like you just talked yesterday.
Popularity isn’t everything. Ten or twenty years from now, no one really gives a damn about the who’s who in high-school. It’s about who you are at present, the quality of life you’re living, and what you plan to do about it. Watch Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion to see what happens to the “it” people in the end.
You are not ugly. Just awkward-looking—well, who isn’t in adolescence? While you’re getting depressed everytime you look in the mirror because sharks have better teeth than you, your skin is an oil field, your hair is constantly against you, and your zits are filling in more than your boobs and butt—understand that your body is changing and will settle in its proper form in a few years.
Stop picking at your pimples, maintain proper hygiene, eat healthy and exercise. You’ll be thankful later on as you strut confidently in a bikini.
It’s okay to cry about your heartaches but it’s not okay to keep crying. The world isn’t ending just because your crush likes someone else. Trust me when I say there’s more out there and that you won’t be ending up with any of your first five boyfriends anyway, so stop soaking your pillow and move on.
And since we’re on the topic of romance, don’t be too serious in love. Date and get to know people. Have some responsible fun while you’re young and single because really, how will you know your favorite food until you’ve tried a few dishes?
Don’t rush growing up. You will have time to party your heart out—more than a decade, if you must know—and that’s also more than a decade of your hair smelling like club fart and other people’s sweat. Don’t burn out too soon.
Enjoy being wholesomely young. Simmer in that innocent fun.
I have to commend you for the good that you are. It’s impressive how you stay strong and spirited despite adversity. Your strength will serve you and help you through the tougher times in your adult life.
You are also amicable and generous to whoever you encounter. Keep being kind and let this influence those around you.
Your independence and natural curiosity helped you learn skills and increase your knowledge beyond the corners of yourself. Don’t lose these valuable bits of your character as they will fire your fun and adventurous lifestyle.
I applaud you for being a proactive person. You chose sports and hobbies over drugs, alcohol, and boyfriends. Even then, you knew about passion and having a healthy creative outlet for your young self. This will greatly reward you physically in the future and your 30s self will love you!
Alas, a time machine has not and I doubt will ever be invented to let me return in time and have a chat with my younger self. Though it’s too late for me to learn these life lessons at the time they were needed, perhaps teens going through the same at present can take heed and be a lot wiser than my teenaged self.
The Top 15 Things a 12-year-old Boy should know About Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll—from a 73-year-old Grandma.
Author: Kristin Solis-Horton
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: justine-reyes at Flickr