Fifteen isn’t an easy age. At least, it wasn’t an easy age for me. I didn’t fit in very well, not at home, and certainly not at school. I am 36 now, and I think back very gently on my 15 year old self. I look at her with sympathy and understanding. I see her for the girl she was, the woman she would become.
There is much I’d like to tell her. She probably would not have listened. After all, 15 year olds know everything. She would have thought that I, at 36, was so old and out-of-touch that I simply could not imagine what her world was like. She would have been wrong.
Someone may have told me these things, too, when I was 15. But I clearly didn’t listen. At 15, I thought the world was a terrible, fearsome place. I was often lost and worried, alone. I can still recall the sometimes-unbearable loneliness of those days …
So to my 15-year-old self, as well as all the other 15-year-old girls out there, here are ten things you need to know to get through.
- That boy you thought you couldn’t live without? Not only can you live without him (quite nicely, in fact), he will one day end up working in a gas station, completely bald, married, with a half-dozen children. And you realize that you’ve done far better without him.
2. Pick your friends wisely. There are drama queens, and there are true friends. The drama queens will sell you out in a heartbeat. You don’t need the drama in your life. You’re 15. That’s drama enough.
3. Your parents won’t always be around. You hate them now. You may even have very good reasons to hate them. I know I did. But one day you’ll realize that your parents are human. They are as human as you are. Parents make mistakes, just like kids do. And when they are gone, you’ll miss them terribly. Enough said.
4. Don’t compare yourself with everyone else. M was blonder, and P was thinner, and they were all prettier. I was smarter and had bigger breasts. But comparing myself to them never made me feel better about myself. I always felt inferior, no matter how I rated. Comparing myself to me – being the best me that I could be – was the only way to move beyond that and really feel good about myself.
5. Know it’s ok to be you. My parents constantly told me to not be so sensitive, as if it was a bad thing. But the world needs both the sensitive butterflies as well as the thick-hided buffalo. I’m a butterfly. I could not have changed my nature no matter how much they teased or picked at me. I finally stopped hating myself for it about ten years ago. I’m sensitive. And that’s a good thing.Remember that running away from your problems doesn’t work.
6. Problems follow you. Everywhere. I graduated high school early because I wanted to escape, but the things that hurt me at home followed me to school and beyond, and no matter where I went, there they were. I had to face them head-on before they finally went away.
7.You can’t change your circumstances, but you can change your attitude towards them. You may be stuck in a terrible situation, and at 15, you’re probably pretty powerless to change that. But you can change how you see that. You can see your constant arguing with your sister as an opportunity to grow and develop. You can see being stuck babysitting your neighbor’s intolerably bratty kids as a stepping-stone to a future career as a child psychiatrist, daycare teacher, or pediatrician. Turn everything into a positive: change your viewpoint, and the situation becomes a lot more tolerable.
8. It’s the hard times in life that show us who we really are. And maybe that’s why high school doesn’t define us. High school is one of those hard times. Those with stronger characters come out even stronger. The weaker ones are often broken or damaged. Don’t see adversity as the enemy. Welcome it as an opportunity.
9. Ask for help when you need it. It’s humbling to be sure. And someone may say no. But more often than not, people will help, because most people care. People do care, you know. It probably feels like no one cares or understands, but they do. And they want to help.
10. This too shall pass. One day, you’ll be out of high school. You won’t be 15, or even 16, any longer. You’ll look back very kindly on the person you were, remembering how painful and confusing a time that was in your life. And you’ll know you made it through, and it passed, and you’re ok. Because 15 doesn’t last forever.
And one more thing: Follow your dreams. You know you have them. In your dreams is where you will find your peace. No matter how unlikely it is you will ever reach your goals, even if you are only following your dreams as a hobby – keep following them. I did.