My teenage years were one of the hardest, most exciting, and emotional times of my life; yet so instrumental in setting the foundation for learning and growing into the woman I am today.
At the time I thought I’d be stuck there forever, surrounded by people I wasn’t sure I wanted to grow up being best friends with, teachers I knew didn’t have it all right, and caught on an emotional roller coaster day in day out.
Ironically, as a teen I couldn’t wait to ‘grow up’ and I’d always dream about the day I turned 18 and became a responsible, carefree adult.
Here’s the thing…becoming a grown up for me just wasn’t that simple, especially when I had a tonne of baggage, a broken heart in more than one place, and a bucket load of low-self esteem to carry across the threshold into adulthood with me.
So here’s 10 things I wish I could go back and tell myself when I was 13 going on 20, just to make the ride a little less bumpy:
1. Your opinions matter!
It’s easy to feel as though others older or more experienced than you have it all together, but this isn’t true. By sharing a piece of yourself with others it will build your confidence over the years. No matter how small it is, you have something valid to bring to a conversation. So believe in the power of your own voice!
2. It’s okay to fail.
I don’t know about you, but failing just wasn’t an option for me. I put so much pressure on myself to do well, that when I didn’t succeed I was heartbroken.
But seriously… I’ve learnt that it’s okay to fail.
Failing makes you realise you’re human, that mistakes are normal; it brings to light some of your greatest strengths of character when your pride wants to come out on top.
3. Don’t wish away the years
Undeniably, as I said above, being a teen can really suck! But if you could make the most of every opportunity and live in the present rather than dreaming on the future, things might be more exciting. You might learn to kick back, relax and enjoy the time you have now.
4. Be kind to yourself
You get up every morning, race to school/college to learn for 7 hours, come home and do your schoolwork, and then sleep again, ready to repeat this over the next day. When do you take the time to look out for yourself, to tell yourself it’s okay to stop there and carry on tomorrow?
Why not stop right now, go and watch your favourite film or TV show, or listen to your favourite music. You deserve a break!!
5. Stand up for the things you believe in
Sometimes people can make you feel like you’re incapable of making decisions for yourself, that you don’t need a belief system or your own unique spirituality.
I say there’s nothing better than loving and accepting who you are! So don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd and be different. People will respect you far more for being strong and being yourself!
6. Your friendship group will not remain BFF’s for life
Sometimes the friendships we make at school aren’t always healthy, mutual and confidence building and although we promise to be best friends till we are old and wrinkly, this hardly ever happens. Arguably, some of my friends from school are still in my life but the majority of my close friends were made at university, in church, and at work. So don’t take fall-outs, gossip, and changing friendships too seriously. These are something that will pass with time, as you learn more about yourself and figure out who your true friends are.
There are so many opportunities to build up resentment throughout your teens: relationship break-ups, bullying, gossip, parents letting you down; but you hold the key to being free from the weight of all the hurt and upset.
There’s a beautiful quote that says ‘Unforgiveness is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die’. In other words, being bitter is going to hurt you more.
Try to forgive, even when it’s hard, because whilst the other person is walking around freely you are carrying a weight on your heart that won’t help anyone, least of all yourself.
8. Sometimes parents know best
Yes, sometimes parents get it wrong and aren’t on the right track to help you through your teens. Sometimes, though, they may actually be onto something.
After all they were teenagers too…once upon a time.
Take some time to listen to their advice and learn about some of their mistakes, you might feel better supported in issues you’re facing. If you feel your parents aren’t the best support, why not try and find someone you trust and get support from them. We all need a little care from someone we look up to.
9. You are stronger than you think
There may be many times when you will feel like you’re about to break and everyone will catch a glimpse of the weaker side of you.
Just by going through day-to-day life as a teen you are building resilience that will only help you when you reach adulthood, so having weaknesses is no biggie. It’s learning to deal with these and carry on forward that makes you strong. And yes, YOU ARE STRONG!!
10. It’s okay to ask for help
You are strong, you are brave, but you don’t have to have it all together. Which is why, asking for help is a great option.
Sometimes the idea of telling someone you have a need, feels like weakness but some of the strongest people I know are those who can admit they need help. Help overcoming an addiction, going to counselling to talk through anxiety, asking for money to help repay debt… I’ve seen some of my closest friends admit they need help and I’ve been inspired by them.
Who knows, one day you might be on the opposite side and you’ll know exactly what to do.
Beki manages the local youth club for Youthscape in Luton and loves hanging out with people, playing pool and speaking about current mental health issues. Beki really enjoys sport and dance (basically anything active) and also enjoys catching up with friends and eating out.