At 15, my biggest concerns were grades, dates, and friends. I seldom speak to high school friends; dating was more fun in college and after. At least one of my priorities proved valuable. There’s a lot of little things I wish I knew at 15. I wish I knew how silly some of my hair and clothing choices would look when I see photos of my 15-year-old self.
But everyone has those pictures. When it comes to the stuff I actually cried about, the following list of advice for adolescents covers 10 things I wish I knew at 15.
The Boy I Wasted All That Time Drooling Over Got Ugly
I mean U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, ugly.
Also, the nerdy guys, who you don’t give the time of day to, become hot and rich, sometimes famous. My advice: go for the “nerds”.
My Parents Won’t Always Be Here.
After getting my first part time job, and buying clothes for myself, I realized each trendy outfit I “needed” took at least a week of work to afford, with my discount. My mom never complained. Granted, it didn’t take her a week to afford, but it did put her sacrifices into perspective.
Appreciate the little things parents do for you. You’ll learn to appreciate their limits, curfews, and phone calls someday; I hope it won’t be too late.
Mistakes: Many, Many Mistakes… It’s Okay to Fail Sometimes
Unless, of course, you don’t learn from your mistakes.
Smoking is Addictive. Quitting is (expletive) Hard.
I thought I could stop any time I wanted to stop. So I tried. And tried… and tried… and tried… I knew I smelled bad when smoking. I knew it was getting more and more expensive. I knew it wasn’t healthy. But I just couldn’t ignore the call of the Camel.
I won’t tell you what to do, but I will tell you how fat you’ll get when you try to quit. And I’ll tell you that the thought of dying from lung cancer and missing your child’s graduation, wedding, or seeing your grandchildren, sucks more than being grounded.
Make Decisions Based on What You Want, Not on What You Don’t Want
If you think there are only two choices and neither is what you want, then create a third option.
Going after what you want isn’t easy, but if you fear stepping outside of your routine, you have no idea the possibilities that may present themselves tomorrow.
Listen to the Old; Listen to the Young
Both are honest; both are ignored. The elderly will tell you the truth because they’re sick of all the lies. Young children tell the truth because they haven’t been taught what to lie about yet. Either way, they’ll let you know if you look fat in an outfit, should follow your dreams, or never sacrifice who you are for another.
While fashion, technology, and social norms may change, when it comes to the basic human experiences, we call them senior citizens because they’re close to graduation. If advice from the elderly carried a price tag, no one could afford it. They’re not afraid to hurt your feelings once in a while. I would rather have hurt feelings for a few moments than a lifetime of regret.
My Clothes, Hair, Car, Friends, Boyfriends, Activities, Athletics… Don’t Define Me
Stand for something that will never change. Principles like service, respect, or kindness are not ambiguous and will never leave you for the more attractive and fun version of yourself. They won’t fall victim to the latest trend, sprain their knee, or fall out. They got your back. Always.
The Only One Worth Competing With is the You of Yesterday
Even those who realize this still manage to forget on occasion. Regardless, it’s true. Competing with the world is an exercise in futility. Did you break your own previous record? Did your second draft look better than your first? Did you take one more step forward than yesterday? If so, enjoy the moment.
The surest way to be miserable is to discount your own successes.
High School: Not the Best Time of Your Life. It Gets Better
I only believed this until I reached college. College ceased to be the best years of my life when I graduated. My first few years of work, marriage, and now being a mom: they’ve all been the best time of my life until the next best time of my life has occurred.
At this point, I’m thinking retirement has got to be the best time of my life. Make sure you have a chance to look forward to it.
Life Doesn’t Get Any Easier When You’re an Adult
I thought it would be so great to make all those decisions… Now I realize all that mail that made me think my mom was so popular was 80% bills. WTF!
While I wish I knew so many things when I was 15, I don’t know that I would go back and redo it. In part, because things really kept getting better, but also because even the crappy stuff is part of who I am now.
Giving advice to adolescents is always tricky. Teens love to practice their rebellious streak. It’s worth trying to share your insight with teenagers, but don’t be surprised if 10 years pass before you hear, “I should have taken your advice on that.”