Lessons

Things I Have Learned

Yesterday was my 19th birthday. That means that this is my last year being a teenager-adult hybrid. I’ll be honest–people say don’t grow up, but I’m really excited. Sure, I’ll have to do things like pay taxes, advance my career and education, possibly try out some dating, get an apartment, adult things like that. But I’ve always been kinda independent. I’m excited to have responsibilities.

The other day, a couple of my friends and their mom came over, and suddenly I got an idea for a question. I asked them, “You could get a million dollars, but you would have to live through age 13 again. Would you do it?”

You see, I was going to add that they had to actually act like they were 13 or else the time travel police would come and murder them, but I didn’t have to. None of them said they would. Actually, our moms were the closest to a yes as an answer, but they ultimately turned it down.

A million dollars is a lot of money. But fuck no, I wouldn’t either.

I remember when my older sister hit that age and started to act like, well, a bitch. I saw how she acted and what she did, and I couldn’t understand why she was just so… dumb, I guess? And then I turned 13 and I understood. Dudes and dudettes, in case you forgot, it fucking sucks being a teenager and having your hormones and brain make you an idiot. It’s, like, a whole different world–a world that adults all too often forget. I’d rather kill an innocent man than go through my teenage years again.

But here are things I’ve learned from being a teenager, so hopefully somebody else won’t learn any of them the hard way, like I did.

  1. You suddenly feel as smart, if not smarter, than all adults around you. If you’re reading this and you’re a kid or a teenager, trust me, you are not as smart as most adults, no matter how awesome you think you are.
  2. The older you get, the more you see that nobody knows what the hell they’re doing. It’s true. When you’re a kid, you think your parents know everything. As it turns out, they were winging it the whole time… Which explains some things.
  3. You’re going to get stabbed in the back. A lot. As it turns out, a lot of people are shitty people, and it’s not always obvious who these shitty people are.
  4. Let yourself get stabbed in the back sometimes. Now this may seem stupid, but bear with me. You’re going to get hurt no matter what. This does not mean you should go around never trusting anybody–obviously, be cautious of who you do trust, but hurt will happen sometimes and that’s okay. Don’t think you’re stupid or that you let it happen.
  5. You’re going to stab others in the back, too. You’re a teenager. You’re gonna be an asshole sometimes, no matter what. Learn to apologize and you’ll find some of the strongest friendships. Just make sure your friends apologize when they need to, too.
  6. You’re not going to always keep the friends you have. And it’s okay. Friends will come and go, whether by fights or by growing apart. It’s cool. It’s not always your fault. It’s not always a bad thing. Cherish what you got now and make happy memories.
  7. Be kind to your parents. Even when they screw up, and they’re going to screw up a lot. Parenting never came with a book they could read and as it turns out, no human is perfect.
  8. You’re going to fall in love, but it probably won’t last. There are exceptions to this rule of course, but for the most part, high school sweethearts don’t last. That’s okay. Love is great and awesome and exciting and fun! You don’t have to plan your whole life around that person. Don’t take your relationships so seriously in high school, because by the time you’re out of college, you’re gonna be a totally different person.
  9. Work hard. You don’t have to work until you cry, but work hard. You’ll look back and you’ll be glad you didn’t quit when you wanted to. Keep that in mind.
  10. But rest too. Take a chill pill if you end up having a panic attack over something. Don’t work that hard.
  11. Develop a sense of humor. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at things. Laugh at your life. And most importantly, laugh at your friends when they do something stupid. They’ll laugh at you when you mess up too, so practice your clever retorts for those specific situations.
  12. You’re going to find things about yourself that you don’t like. If you can change it, then change so you’ll be better. If you can’t change it, learn to love it. This will require you to lie to yourself, but eventually, you’ll believe it.
  13. Nobody is as happy as they seem on social media. This is relatively new advice for new young folk to behold. People only show the best parts of themselves on social media, you really think they’re gonna show they’re debt and fights online?
  14. Nobody is as pretty as they are on social media. Trust me on this one.
  15. You’re hotter than you think you are. Always.
  16. If you feel depressed almost every time you get on social media, you can and should delete it. This is a lot tougher than people realize, because most of your interaction with your friends and the rest of the outside world will be on the internet. But if it’s not making you happy, put it right in the trash.
  17. Get political, but not too political. I’ve definitely learned this the hard way. It’s great, awesome even, to be into the world now and to be a part of the change. But unless you give up all your earthly possessions and can suddenly vocalize everything that’s been on everyone’s minds like a slam poem from an angel, there won’t be all that much you can do, at least at your age. Be involved with current events, but don’t put the weight of the world on your shoulders.
  18. Do stuff you’re shit at. Eventually you’ll be less shitty at it. It’ll be so frustrating and depressing at first,  but do it.
  19. Stop repressing your emotions. Cry yourself to sleep every night if you have to. Bottling that shit up will just make it come out in another, typically worse, way.
  20. Also, make time for yourself. Browse the internet. Watch YouTube videos. Play video games. Do something you enjoy every day, even if it’s ultimately useless in the end.
  21. Be an artist at something you love. Even if you’re shit at it. It’s better to be a shitty artist than not an artist at all.
  22. If you’re bad at something, don’t worry! There’s gonna be a lot of stuff you’re going to be shit at, and that includes stuff that you may want to do or stuff that lots of others are good at. Accept it, embrace it!
  23. Your friends are just as fucked up as you are. Trust me on this. You won’t believe how much stuff people keep to themselves that literally everybody else in the universe thinks about or does.
  24. Also, open up to your friends. That’s what they’re there for. It’s nice to talk about yourself sometimes and other people will agree. Your friends will feel great that you trust them and you’ll feel great that you’re letting off steam.
  25. You don’t need childhood friends. If you have one, awesome! If you don’t, I feel ya. It seems like you’re missing out, but it’s a great opportunity for a fresh start with tons of people who are waiting to be friends with you.
  26. If you’re thinking about therapy, you need therapy. Teenagers are getting more depressed by the dozen and shit dawg I’ve been there. Even if you aren’t clinically depressed, people will always need someone to talk to, and you won’t believe how much it helps to have somebody listen to you who’s a professional.
  27. Shamelessly love trends. Life is short and so are fun trends. They’re even better to look back on and laugh at.
  28. You don’t have to be social. Some people just aren’t meant to talk to their friends every single day, all the time. Don’t feel guilty about that.
  29. But try to get out more. Even if you’re by yourself.
  30. Go on a date with yourself. Sure, it’s kinda awkward, but every once in awhile, go treat yourself by going to a fancy restaurant or seeing a movie or going shopping, even if you think you don’t need it. Life is hard in general and loving yourself and letting yourself get some rest is so, so important.
  31. There are people that are always more successful than you. Fact of life. This one is a little hard to swallow, but when you learn to be happy for people, it won’t be so bad. You’ll always have something to strive towards.
  32. Sleep in as much as possible. Yeah, you’ll feel like you’re missing out on stuff, but you’re not missing much. Do you like to sleep? Then fucking sleep! It’s healthy for you and most teenagers don’t get enough anyway.
  33. Stop drinking shitty pop and drink water. Physically you’ll feel so much better, so much cleaner, and you’ll lose weight without actually trying.
  34. Double check everything. It’s so, SO easy to believe stuff you see online, even if you don’t realize you’re doing it. Before you post or share that thing, do a quick Google search. You’ll end up learning a fuck ton of useful stuff and you’ll look smart as heck.
  35. Ask for help, all the time, for everything. I’ve learned this the hard way–the really, really, hard, stupid way. You’re not dumb for needing help. You don’t always need to figure out stuff on your own even if you know you can eventually figure it out. It’s so much better to ask for help. Seriously. Don’t be prideful, you’re a shitty kid.
  36. Don’t take anything too seriously. You’ll do that a lot as a teenager. It’s good to remind yourself to chill and realize that you’re going through what literally everyone else goes or has gone through.
  37. It’s never the end of the world. Even if it feels like it.
  38. Most importantly, how you think will be different from how you feel. This one is a little complicated. There are gonna be times when you know it’s all gonna be okay, or that it isn’t that bad, or that you’re overreacting, but you’ll still feel the opposite way. And that’s totally okay and totally normal. This will get better as you get older, but let yourself feel anxious and sad and depressed and angry, even though you know there may be no reason for it whatsoever. It’s called hormones. Let them flow through you.

 

I think that’s about all of it. I’m still learning some of these myself, but this is the generic and totally not original advice I give to anyone who may use it as they please.

Also, if you know any teenagers, be easy on them. It sucks being a teenager when hundreds of people are watching your every move online. Maybe take them out for some spaghetti occasionally. They’ve earned it.

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