10 things I wish every teenager could know

I hang out with teenagers every day – and soon, I’ll have my own teenager. Many days I find myself wishing I could just gather all the teenagers of the world in one room and share my heart with them.

I’m not saying they would listen to me or that I believe anything like that impossibly utopian idea could ever happen. But my aching soul just longs for them to know these things. These 10 super important things.

But not just know them.

I wish I could tattoo these things on their hearts. I wish I could place a jump drive in their brains and download these ideas in a way that would STICK permanently. If only I could attach an IV that would pump these truths into their blood systems.

I can’t do those things. So I write them. And I pray that somehow they get this message.

10 things I wish every teenager could know…

  1. You are still a kid. I know everyone wants you to learn how to be an adult and responsibility is super important. But adult things like divorce are not your fault. You don’t have to be the mediator between your parents and you don’t have to BE a parent. You don’t have to solve family problems by yourself. You are still learning, you are still a kid, and that’s okay.
  2. You deserve to hear the good things. Yeah, you’re going to make mistakes. Lots of them. But there are also lots of amazing, unique things about you. And you deserve to hear the good things. Even if you don’t believe it, there are MANY good things about you – just the way you are.
  3. People will be mean. In my experience, there are always mean people. But when they are mean it says more about THEM than about you. Learn early on to let the mean stuff roll off your shoulders. Those words aren’t true. Block it out. Walk away. Say, “Thank you, concerned citizen!” when someone puts you down. They won’t know how to respond.
  4. But people are also good. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll find someone who feels just like you do, loves the things you do, or is looking for a friend just like you are. If you don’t base your friendships on popularity but on people who are true to themselves, you’ll find some REAL friends who will treat you well.
  5. Cheating, sex, and pressure are not love. Everyone is searching for “that person”. The infamous “L” word is the ultimate scavenger hunt. But no matter how you frame it, someone who cheats, pressures you to be someone you are not, or gives you the sex ultimatum is not really in love with you. Love is selfless and unconditional. Love doesn’t EXPECT. Love ACCEPTS.
  6. High school is ONLY four years. Sometimes it feels like high school (or middle school) won’t ever end. But it does. And out of your average 75 years of life, it is a very small percentage. It won’t last forever even if it feels like it will. Soon, high school will be a blurry part of your past and you will have moved on to bigger and better things.
  7. Perspective, perspective, perspective. There is always someone who is worse off than you, and if you consider that, it helps. As a teenager you’re going to naturally think of yourself first. But if you could NOTICE when someone else is struggling, you learn to be grateful for what you have. When you don’t make the team, you understand a little better how that kid in gym class feels when he’s picked last for dodgeball.
  8. Your grades, popularity, “likes” or friend count DO NOT determine your worth. Who you are and how much you’re worth is not determined by what you do – no matter what anyone tells you. Sitting there, doing nothing, you are worth millions just being you. If you can grasp that early on, it will change the way you deal with your teenage years.
  9. Sarcasm is rarely a positive way to respond. Sarcasm has become the teenage language, and too often, it hurts others more than it helps them. There is just a tad of “truth” in sarcasm, and it can be super painful. Be sincere. Taste your words before you spit them out. How would it feel if someone said that to you?
  10. You have the ability to CHOOSE. You can’t choose what happens to you, but you CAN choose how you respond to it. Every day you are offered a plate. It might not be the plate you want, but you control what you do with that plate. Every day is the best day ever – because if TODAY were my last day, I would want it to be my BEST day, therefore today is the best day ever.

Teenagers have it rough. So much pressure. But teenagers also have it great. So much opportunity. Hear my heart…I want the very best for you. It’s there waiting…you just have to choose it.

Other posts I’ve written for my beloved teenagers…

10 reasons you don’t need a boyfriend (or girlfriend) in high school

for the student who is considering suicide: from a teacher who cares

Back to School: an open letter from a teacher to her students (and parents)