You’re a teenager today. I know adults are always giving you advice and telling you what to do, but humor me and hear me out. Here are 13 things I want to tell you on this big milestone of a day.
1. The meanest, cruelest kids probably need the most love.
You know those kids that lash out or say hurtful things? Those kids are usually putting others down to make themselves feel better. Chances are, they have a lot more going on inside their heads than you could ever imagine. Don’t engage or challenge them. Just walk away when you can, and be a friend when possible.
2. Don’t be an asshole.
To your teachers, to your parents, to your friends…don’t be an asshole. You know the difference between right and wrong, so don’t be a jerk.
3. When you are an asshole, own it. And say you’re sorry.
It’s so hard to admit when you’re wrong, and so many people have a problem with apologizing. Don’t be one of those people. You’ll probably be tempted to be stubborn and wait for the other person to apologize first, but get over it. Just say you’re sorry.
4. Be nice to girls…and don’t talk about their periods.
Girls can be really self-conscious. They often worry about how they look, how much they weigh, and dozens of other things that you probably don’t think about. Be nice to them.
5. There are still lots of racists, sexists, and homophobes in the world.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who are narrow-minded. Don’t hate these people. They’re probably just scared of the unknown.
6. Don’t be afraid of people who aren’t like you.
You will come across so many people in your life who come from different backgrounds, cultures, races, and economic situations. Don’t close yourself off. They can open your mind in the most amazing ways.
7. Your current hobbies and interest can, will, and should evolve.
Some hobbies and passions will last a lifetime, but don’t let them stop you from learning and growing along the way. There are so many great things out there to discover and experience, so keep trying, learning, and doing.
8. Your friend list can, will, and should evolve.
Just like your hobbies, friends should grow along with you. You might have friends that last you a lifetime, but don’t let that stop you from changing or making new ones along the way.
9. No one likes to talk about mental health or disabilities.
Depression is scary. Anxiety is a real thing. Some people live with disabilities that are hard for us to understand. Just because people don’t talk about these things don’t mean they don’t exist. Don’t be afraid to talk or ask about these things.
10. Don’t be silent.
If you see something wrong, say something. Don’t sit on the sidelines and say nothing. Of course you shouldn’t be a jerk about it (refer to #2), but it’s also important to think independently and speak your mind.
11. You can ask me about…ya know.
Talking about sex makes adults uncomfortable. Even saying the word freaks them out. But you know what? I’d rather you ask me your awkward and weird questions in the years ahead instead of googling it.
12. Respect people…even your sister.
Yes, of course respect was going to make the list. Don’t roll your eyes. You need to respect ALL the people around, from teachers, a friend’s parents, and yes…even your little sister. You can respect someone even if you disagree with them.
13. Keep going outside on purpose.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in electronics and just the manic pace of every day life. As you get older, your schedule is going to get even more busy and crazy, but always take time to go outside. Go for a hike. Notice the stars. Grow something you can eat. Visit amazing places. These things will refuel you in ways that nothing else can.