Can you really be in love as a teenager? Does it even matter what you do in high school? What mistake could ruin your life? These are hard questions to answer, but looking back, there are some harsh truths about the world that every teenager should know.
Inevitably teenagers will spend a lot of time in school. Like probably more than they even spend at home. This is just the nature of the world we live in. So, what do I know now that I wish I knew then? Well, almost everyone I know who at least tried in high school as teenagers are now successful and living their best lives.
School may not be cool, but the harsh truth of it is that if you don’t try in high school, life is going to be really hard down the road. I’m not saying you have to solely focus on school during your teenage years. In fact, it is highly recommended by experts that you do not spend every day consumed by school work. This is because it will not only make you miserable, but you’ll be a pretty boring person as well.
School is not just a place where you’re forced to do work, but where you learn certain life skills, build relationships, and try new things. Which brings us to the next thing I wish I knew as a teenager: when choosing which classes to take, don’t do what everyone else is doing, do what interests you.
Do what you want, not what everyone else is doing
The harsh truth about most teenagers is that they like to be part of a group, rather than being an individual. This means as a teenager you might make decisions based on what your friend group is doing; not what you want.
Maybe you’re really into science and there is a marine biology elective that you want to take. Go for it! Even if you aren’t very good at science, but love the ocean, you might be surprised by what you discover about yourself.
Sure none of your friends may be in the class, but maybe you’ll meet new people who share common interests. And just as a spoiler alert, once you leave your teenage years behind, you probably will only keep in contact with a handful of your high school friends anyways, so don’t let them influence what you do. Taking a class that sounds cool instead of what everyone else wants you to take, is definitely something I wish I had known as a teenager.
Get teachers to like you
But here is a pro tip for teenagers who may not do well in school. Even if you’re not the best student, you should become friendly with some of your teachers.
Teachers are there to help. Not all teachers are perfect, or even good, but most care. Talking to a teacher after class that you find interesting or nice is a great way to learn more about the harsh obstacles ahead of you after completing high school.
If I had talked to more of my teachers outside of class, I wouldn’t have been blindsided in the coming years with the amount of college work, job applications, or credit card bills that awaited me.
Plus, the better your relationship is with your favorite teachers, the more likely they will be to write you a good letter of recommendation, or agree to be a reference when you apply for jobs.
You may even be surprised at how your relationship with your teachers grows once you are an adult. You might find yourself grabbing a drink and commiserating over the good old days, when all you had to worry about was not fooling around in class and getting detention.
But enough about school.
Once you graduate, what should you do? Go to college? Get a job? Travel the world?
Well here’s another crucial thing that I wish someone had told me as a teenager. After high school, things get hard. It doesn’t matter if you choose to go straight to college or not, life is expensive, and you’re going to need to get a job at some point.
So, as a teenager, the harsh truth is it’s time to start making your own money. Whether it’s working at a grocery store, or as a pizza delivery driver, you need to make money to start supporting yourself.
Most teenagers have parents who will help them financially, but you never know when money will become tight, and it is definitely worth being prepared by having your own job. Like school, jobs may not be fun, but they are necessary.
Teenagers who enter their twenties and have never worked a day in their life are going to find out how hard life can actually be. They will have no experience or skills, and no one will hire them except to do the most menial jobs. The harsh reality is that every teenager needs a job.
Love is not really… love
You don’t have to look very hard to find songs about love, especially the ones that have to do with how much it sucks. There are some tough lessons to learn about love, sex, and rock n’ roll as a teenager.
One harsh fact about teenage love is that it’s not really love at all. It may be lust, or desire, or a way to fit in, but it’s not love. Teenage hormones can make you do crazy things, which includes making bad love life decisions.
In reality, the teenage years of someone’s life should be used for experimenting and trying new things. This also includes your love life. You should develop relationships with different people, just be sure to treat everyone with respect.
Every teenager remembers their first love. The other person may not have loved them back, or even knew that they existed. Either way, what you feel as a teenager isn’t really love at all, since you do not have enough personal and life experiences quite yet.
That is why it is almost impossible to find a couple who have been faithfully together since they were teenagers. The keyword there is faithfully.
Now don’t get me wrong. You can definitely love someone, something, somebody; but the love you see between two adults is going to be different than what you experience as a teenager. And that’s okay. I just wish someone would have told my teenage self that before I had my heart broken.
The harsh reality is that as a teenager you’re going to have a broken heart at some point. There is no way around it. But if I could go back and tell teenage me one thing it would be that what I was feeling then was only a fraction of what things after teenage life had in store for me. There are much bigger problems in the world, and in everyone’s lives in general, than a teenage crush breaking up with you.
Asking for permission
To go along with teenage romance it is really important to get into the habit of asking for permission. As teenagers, we sometimes feel that rules don’t apply to us, but the law feels very differently.
If you are going to be in a teenage romantic relationship make sure you and your partner are on the same page. If you don’t want to get slapped, or thrown in juvy, make sure you ask permission from your partner before engaging in the romantic activity.
This is also true for the rest of your life. The harsh reality is that sexual misconduct runs rampant in the world. If you want to be a good person, and do what’s right, just get into the habit of asking permission when you’re a teenager.
Also, a word of warning from those of us beyond our teenage years. It is not cool, or even remotely alright, for a teenager to date a person that is significantly older than them. For one, it is illegal if you are under 18, and secondly, it is just creepy. Again it’s harsh, but true, some people are just not good people, especially when it comes to taking advantage of someone younger than them.
Be prepared to fail constantly
Something that teenagers, and everyone, needs to be prepared for in life is failing. It’s going to happen, and you know what? I wish someone had told me it was okay to fail as a teenager.
That may be hard to hear, but when you fail as a teenager, you learn. A lot of time, failure is seen as a bad thing, but it can also be beneficial. Since life is full of failures it is good to build up your stamina as a teenager.
Again, it is not always bad to fail, because it can help you become better. The truth is that when you’re a teenager it won’t be the first time you fail or the last, so it is best to just accept it, learn from it, and move on.
Which brings us to maybe the most helpful advice for a teenager who is about to head out into the harsh world. If you have a question to ask, ask it.
This goes for in a school, at work, or in your home. It is always better to ask for help than to try and go through it alone. Adults, or people who are out of their teenage years, have gone through what you’re going through before.
And they probably even have the answers you seek. Since things will only get harder before they get easier, it is good to ask as many questions as possible of the people around you. If you ask a lot of questions you will definitely thank your teenage self later on in life.
You have a choice
And another thing that teenagers should know is that there is always a choice. This is something I wish someone would have kept reminding me as a teenager. It would have saved me a lot of energy in the end.
Oftentimes it might feel like your life is planned out, and that there is only one path to take, but that’s far from the truth. If I’d known how many times life would take twists and turns, I’d tell my teenager self to just go with the flow.
You’re going to feel trapped as a teenager taking a single path towards college, a job, or whatever else may be on the horizon, but you always have a choice.
The hardest thing about having a choice is forgetting that it’s there. As a teenager, now is the time to make different choices and try different things; because once your life really gets going, you’re going to have others relying on you like your family and co-workers.
So, the teenage years are when to try new things, and to make choices for yourself while not having to worry too much about all the other factors that may affect those choices later on.
All you got in the end are family and friends
Many of your teenage friends will move away, or you’ll lose contact with them, that is just the truth. Most people keep only a few, or maybe even just one, a lifelong friend from their teenage years. You will depend on each other, and be there for one another, for the rest of your lives.
So you might want to treat them nicely. It may be harsh to hear, but sometimes teenagers can be selfish. They put unimportant things like social media, summer flings, and temporary happiness ahead of friends and family.
This is a bummer because once all those things are gone, family and friends might be all you have left. So, if you want some advice that I wish I had known as a teenager it would be this: treat your friends and family as if they were the most important things in your life, because someday they will be.
Forgiving is the key
You, and everyone else, makes mistakes. This means that forgiving others could be a real source of happiness for you as a teenager. Having the ability to let things go, and just move on, is definitely a life skill everyone needs. But it may be even more important for teenagers.
By forgiving your friends and others for the mistakes they’ve made, you can move past the bad stuff and onto the good stuff. And don’t forget, you’re going to make mistakes too, and the more kind and forgiving you are, the easier it will be for people to forgive you later on.
Problems you have are not that big when you’re a teenager
One last piece of harsh advice for all the teenagers out there, and this may be hard to hear: the problems you are having right now probably aren’t that big of a deal. If someone had just told my teenage self this, and pointed out how I could be living my life and trying as many new experiences as possible, things would have gone a lot smoother.
The harsh truth of it is that as a teenager you don’t have as many responsibilities as you might think, and you can pretty much do whatever you want within reason. So, try and let go of those teenage problems and enjoy your time in this part of life before you have to grow up too much.