For some of us, adolescence can accurately described as a supreme form of torture. Here are some things I would have said to help my teenage self along a bit, given the opportunity for a quick chat.
- Boys are people too
Feeling bewildered about why someone you’re interested in hasn’t made an effort to establish that the feelings are mutual? Or worse, he goes after someone else instead of you? Try not to dwell. And don’t you hate it when a boy acts very interested and then suddenly seems to change his mind? Try not to take it personally.
Teenage boys are just as (if not more) confused, self-conscious, and overwhelmed as you are. They just show it in different ways… So do yourself (and the boys around you) a favour and try not to get caught up in that mess. Treat the boys around you with kindness and respect. Empathize with the hard things they’re going through and be there to support them in their dreams and ambitions but try to keep your relationships with the opposite sex limited to healthy and fun friendships. And no matter how attractive or seemingly mature the boys around you appear to be, remember that they have some serious growing up to do… just like you! So enjoy them (as friends) and wait until you’re both a little older and mature before allowing yourself to be involved with anyone in a romantic or sexual way.
- Your body is in Transition
Your body is doing some crazy things. Some of us get curves all at once (which makes you feel like you’ve suddenly become obese- or just highly sexualized- overnight) while others carefully stuff their bras and pray for just a few more fat cells to complement their stubbornly angular features. And of course, we can’t forget acne, bad teeth, braces, retainers, period cramps, and the painfully uncoordinated.
Sound about right?
Please remember through all it that you’re not going to fix any of these things by agonizing over them. Of course, if there’s anything going on with your body that is causing you great discomfort, and you feel like you should see a doctor about it (ex. Acne, or period cramps), then do so. But for the most part, all of the above will be smoothed out and made less devastating over time. Instead of agonizing, look for healthy ways to appreciate the things that you do love about your body. You don’t have to be good at sports to be doing something physical. Consider the skill and muscle development it takes for someone to master the piano, to perform a great work of dramatic art, to sing beautifully, or to enjoy a running route. Whatever thing it is that most interests you, dive in, and use whatever skills you achieve as a means to appreciate the things that your body allows you to do. And above all, be patient with yourself and remember that, in the long run, focusing on making healthy choices now (mentally, physically, and spiritually) will help you look like the very best version of yourself once the acne is gone and the braces are off.
- The girl who seems like she knows it all, doesn’t.
The other day walking out of the library with my son, I stumbled upon a hardened looking senior high school student educating a group of bright-faced up-and-coming high school girls on the ways of the world. The scene was all too familiar to me. The older girl used a lot of harsh language to navigate topics such as: “what guys are really like” and “clueless teachers.” I wanted to park myself in the middle of that circle, look each one of them in the eye, and talk with them about virtue and integrity and loving respecting themselves… but the scared little person in me kept walking. I missed that opportunity, but I’m taking this one. Find a girl or woman in your life whom you admire for her goodness and honesty, and look for chances to ask her questions and to listen to what she has to say. This person doesn’t have to be anywhere near your age category either. For some of us, the best person for this job could be a younger sister who just always seems to have her head on straight or even a loving grandmother. And don’t forget to pay attention to how different it feels to talk with this very special person than it does talking to girls like the cynical one I met a few days ago.
4.Enjoy being a Teenager and Stop Worrying about trying to be an Adult.
Sometimes we’re so close to achieving something that we forget to enjoy the now. Love your life. Embrace it. Being a teenager is hard… but so is being an adult. So take things one step at a time and don’t hesitate to go after the things that really matter to you. I’m not talking about a crush or an attempt at popularity. Do things that REALLY matter. Achieve things that coincide with the best parts of yourself. And enjoy how amazing it makes you feel.