When I look back on the past six years (from when I first embarked on my journey into the teenage years), there are innumerable lessons that I have learned from my experiences. One of my personal philosophies for day-to-day life is the mantra that everything happens for a reason. This is a frame to look at all of the good that has manifested, while also acknowledging the more challenging moments of life. Upon thinking about these past few years, I discovered that there are a few words of advice that I would give to my thirteen-year-old self.
You are about to embark on one of the busiest journeys of your life. The days may feel long, but the next six years will pass in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, you will be entering your twenties and wondering where the time has gone.
It can be said that the teenage years are the most challenging years of your life. You are making the transition from child to adult, and learning more about yourself than you ever thought possible. You will learn about the world around you, and how you fit into it. You will form your own opinions, tastes, and values.
I know for a fact that you have always been an old soul, so perhaps what this unknown journey brings does not terrify you. But it is okay if it does. Change is difficult, no matter how big or small. You will change schools, friend groups, academic interests, social interests, and more. Change will become a fact of life, but it is one that is worth embracing.
Take the time to enjoy the life you’re in. I know that it is easy for you to become caught up in the future, but you might miss out on the little moments of life. That being said, do find groups and activities that you are passionate about. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but don’t be afraid to give them up either. Find what truly intrigues you, and follow that passion.
One of the common misconceptions of life is that you must know what you are “good at” at as young of an age as possible. There is an idea that you must find your community through a particular talent or skill, but this is simply not true. It is all too easy to get caught up in this idea and commit to activities simply because you think you have to.
Explore things you haven’t considered trying, but also revisit things you may have given up on in the past. Just because one form of art or music didn’t work out doesn’t mean that they all won’t. Give other instruments or mediums a try, and don’t be afraid to fail.
Failure is what makes us strong. I can honestly say that I have learned way more from my failures than my successes. Learn to see failure as constructive, and not indicative of who you are as a person. Never let a failure set you off track. Take the time you need to process it, and then follow your heart. If you don’t want to retry, then move on. Follow your true intentions, and you will follow the path you are meant to walk.
You will face a variety of social pressures that will make you question your beliefs and values. This happens at all stages of life, but is the hardest to face when you are just starting to figure out who you are. Stay true to yourself. It won’t be easy, and there will be times when you will question if all of the effort is worth it. But it is. Many people will “go with the flow” and lose sight of who they are. Don’t lose sight of your values, interests, or passions. Embrace your quirky style and be comfortable with who you are. When you are older, you will come to admire the fact that you stuck to your ambitions and took your own path.
There will also be pressure to “find someone to complete you”. As soon as you enter your teenage years, your social life shifts from group gatherings to dating. At times, it might feel like the only thing that is relevant. Don’t let it gather more merit than it deserves. Relationships can be wonderful adventures, but they can also be misguided. There will be times when you feel as though you have lost worth because you aren’t in a relationship. It happens to the best of us. There is the expectation that you date during your teenage years, and that if you don’t you are falling behind. I like to think of it this way: you shouldn’t be looking for someone that completes you, but someone that complements you. Before you enter a relationship, you should be comfortable with who you are as your own person. Learn as much as you can about yourself before adding someone else to the mix. Yes, it might feel as though you are stuck in slow-motion, but it will definitely be worth the wait.
Also along those lines, foster caring and supportive relationships in all areas of your life. If someone is draining your positive life energy, don’t feel guilty about limiting your time with them. Choose relationships that make you happy, and ones where the effort is mutual. This applies to friendships, professional relationships, romantic relationships, and otherwise.
Don’t be afraid to speak up. I know that observant silence is your comfort zone, but try to break out of that mold as soon as possible. Let your voice be heard, and it will get easier and easier. I know that confidence is hard to come by during these years, but know that it will get easier. Comparison is the enemy of creativity and confidence. Don’t spend your time comparing your achievements, appearance, or values to others. Admire people for what they can bring to the table, and don’t forget to admire your own contributions. Take the necessary steps to gain confidence in healthy ways, but don’t rely on any one thing too much. Know that you have value in all that you do.
Finally, know that it is okay to pause and let yourself process. Emotions are a natural part of life, and they are nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t let your feelings bottle up until they become too much to handle. Find creative outlets, but also find time to express raw feelings. Know that it is okay to be vulnerable, and don’t be afraid to seek out support and help when you need it.
Some of the most memorable years of your life are ahead of you, and I know that you will thrive and learn countless things along the way,
My very best,
Your nineteen-year-old self
I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post, and thank you for your support during my time of technical difficulty and the start of my semester. Is there anything that you would like to tell your younger self? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
©The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.