Things I Would Tell My Teenage Self

March 28, 2013

(officially twenty)

Turning 20 seems like a milestone of sorts. It's the official marker of the end of what felt like never-ending teenagerdom. Though right now 20 doesn't exactly feel much different than 19, I feel like I have grown exponentially in the past couple years. So in honor of this brief bout of wisdom, here is some advice I'd give to teenager self:

  • 13 year old self, hold on to friendship and enjoy it. Everything seems so innocent, let it be. Everything feels so important and taboo - don't read into it. Focus on being a kid and don't worry about trying to please girls that just want to be mean to you. Avoid the bullying debacle and just check out. Don't feel ashamed and don't try retaliate by fitting the mold of a mean girl either. It brings nothing but drama and trouble and you hurt more feelings than necessary. 
  • 14 year old self, quit trying to be so impossibly cool. Whatever you think is fashionable, is stupid - that goes for year 15 too. Hollister and Abercrombie are not what dreams are made of, so don't waste your parents money or your time trying to fit in like that. This is the year you decide to start graphic designing, it's the best decision ever. You teach yourself SO much - never quit self-teaching. I know you're weary to take that art class, but it opens so many windows for you. You'll be so happy to have taken it. When Dad tells you you will change your mind a million times and you stand up to him and it leads to a fight, know that your certainty is worth it. Don't fight with Mom so much. Also, pick simpler passwords and better mechanisms for saving your work on the computer, because losing it breaks your heart for many years to come. 
  • 15 year old self, grant yourself better self-esteem. Don't worry so much about boys and braces and about what other people say. You feel so insecure with your body and how plain you perceive yourself to be. That will go away, and though you won't get skinnier, you will grow to love yourself and your body more and more. Also, you were right to end the friendship with you know who. I am proud every day for that decision and that strength. I know it was hard to look at the pictures and the notes and the cards from the friendship, but maybe don't burn/give away everything. Pyrotechnics was never a good look. Let go of the anger sooner. I know going out for softball was a hard decision this year, the fact that you keep with it - is admirable and every year just gets easier. 
  • 16 year old self, don't cry so hard when you find out you're going to have a baby brother/sister. You may feel like you've finally reached a good point in your life and that this will ruin everything, but you probably haven't and it won't. Jack will teach you so much, including how to accept change and be a more selfless and more patient individual. You love him more than you could ever love just being alone. Lastly, don't string Travis along. Embrace friendship - but put down the phone. Your selfishness and stubbornness strain everything for a really long time. 
  • 17 year old self, don't be afraid to bow out of friendships and call people out on their bad treatment/flakey nature. Don't let them make you feel envious or unimportant. Color dates are fun, but a majority of the time you were striving to fit into a group dynamic that made you feel more horrible than good. Also, don't get down about guys - don't focus on that. There are plenty and many will find you beautiful and good enough. Also, getting that pink streak in your hair is an excellent decision - not sarcasm. 
  • 18 year old self, you've always been a gut instinct type of gal. Keep that up. People will start to change and drift and that nagging gut feeling about how their priorities are shaping up is entirely spot on. You're right to remove yourself - in fact you should've done it sooner. Quit struggling to bridge the gap, you're only putting off the inevitable. Don't waste time telling him how you feel, just enjoy the friendship and admire from afar - you make everything SO awkward for awhile. Also, take more pictures and write more about bonfire nights. Those adventures are fleeting and things will never quite be the same as that summer before college (people get so boring). Your innocence is beautiful and life seems so possible - hold on to that. Take more pictures and spend more time with Nana, stop being so moody and ungrateful and show her you love her just as hard as she loved you. 
  • 19 year old self, you learn so much this year. Focus less on your social calendar and actually go to class. Stop letting things affect you so and never let Caitilin talk you into 'getting drunk' in the dorm for recreation or hanging out with Parker and Logan - ever. Don't go to Brewer and J.O.'s house warming party - just don't. Stay home. Save yourself the loss and the self loathing. Getting stood up for the 'Secs and Execs' function is actually a good thing in the long run because meeting Savannah and telling her about it will change a lot of things. Going out that first night with her and Kathleen will cement many friendships.  Speak your mind, be more open instead of shutting down. Also, don't drink those two bottles of champagne on announcement and you'll save yourself a lot of heartache and soul searching. 
Is there anything you'd tell your teenager self?

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