I am in my middle to late twenties, however I remember being fifteen as if it was yesterday. Thank goodness it was not. If the same holds true today, teenagers take advice better from someone my age rather than someone their parents age. Chalk it up to the generation gap, the sullen ‘˜You don’t understand so just leave me alone,’ or whatever you wish. All I can relate to is my experience. I remember vividly at that age (and younger) going to my friends who were in graduate school at the time, for advice before going to my parents.
Looking back, things I wish I could tell my fifteen year old self are these:
Do well in school. Then do better. At fifteen I was more concerned with other matters than doing well in school. Those choices still affect me to this day.
Listen to the advice of those around you. Let it sink in. Seek more advice. You can never have too much information.
Don’t make snap decisions. Whether it is to date someone, to take a different class in school or something involving family matters, wait at least 24 hours. The term ‘˜sleep on it,’ was developed for a reason.
If you are dating, don’t forget your friends. Your girlfriends will be the ones to be there with a shoulder to cry on if the relationship is rocky or fails. Your guy friends will be there to do whatever it is fifteen year old guys do when relationships fail.
Don’t do drugs. Strange advice coming from someone who is almost 30 and has never touched anything more than holding a cigarette for a friend. However, I’ve seen drugs of all types permanently mess up the lives of innocent individuals, as well as their family and friends.
In some states, you can drive at 15. Where I lived at the time, I could obtain a learners permit. I didn’t get one until I was almost 16. Children that young should not be behind the wheel of a car. Studies show that your brain is not fully developed until you are 20 or so. At the time, I was mad as anything, since ‘˜all my friends,’ had licenses and cars. In retrospect, my parents making me wait was one of the best things they did for me.
Get a job or volunteer. It may sound boring because that is less time that you are able to spend playing Call of Duty or gabbing on the phone with your friends. However, volunteering or working for pay looks much better on a college application, and subsequently, a job application in your chosen field than a 40 hour Modern Warfare marathon or debating hair dye choices over the phone for hours on end.
Keep in touch with your family. You may think that older relatives are strange because you have nothing in common aside from being related. These wise individuals are chock full of information that you don’t read in a history textbook. Not a day goes by that I miss my maternal grandfather, a WWII Navy radioman who was stationed at Pearl Harbor. The stories he told will never be portrayed in a history textbook.
Don’t worry so much about what your body looks like. Girls; jeans have an arbitrary number attached to them. Don’t define your day or your self worth around what that number is. Guys; steroids and any drug that proves to be a ‘˜quick fix’ for muscle building are not worth it.
Read. Not just what your school assigns, but also books that interest you. If you own books rather than rent them from the library, keep them in mint condition. You may be saying now that you don’t want a family, however, things change. There’s a great satisfaction to be had to share books that you read as a child/teenager with kids you may babysit for, and one day, your own children.
The things that you get teased for now will become your greatest assets. High school doesn’t last forever. The people shoving you into your locker will be bagging your groceries in 10 years.