What Would You Tell Your Teenage Self?

I’m sure you’ve all seen 13 Going On 30 with Jennifer Garner by now.  I had a lazy Sunday afternoon last week and watched it for the zillionth time. At the end of the movie, the main character goes back to being 13 years old after getting the privelage of experiencing life as a 30 year old for a little while. It got me to thinking- don’t we all wish we had the privelage of knowing then what we know now? What would you tell your 13 year old self today?

10 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Teenage Self

1. Spend more time learning how to accept your positive attributes, rather than criticizing and trying to change what you don’t like about yourself. Life is so freeing when you finally accept yourself and stop caring what other people think!

2. Stop thinking that everyone is watching you. Most people are too concerned about themselves and what others think to be watching how you walk across the room, or whether you wore those shoes two days ago or not.

3. Being unique and being yourself is way cooler than trying to be cool, or what everyone else wants you to be.

4. Give your parents a break. They are not perfect. They will make mistakes. They don’t care if they are cool. And oh yea, they go to bed early because they are completely exhausted from working and taking care of you all these years!

5. If you have a problem you can’t solve, tell someone. I don’t think I even knew the school had a counselor. Maybe we didn’t, but I wish I had known about who I could talk to about problems on campus. Teens are often hesitant to talk to their parents for fear of disappointing them, fear of getting in trouble, or because they think their parents may not understand. It’s a good idea to have a mentor for your teenager.

6. Don’t waist your time on relationships and friendships that bring you down. Surround yourself with relationships that build you up! Parents and teens should not underestimate the powerful influence of peers in a teenager’s life. They can make a huge difference in the path you take as a teen.

7. Enjoy this time! Life only gets harder, filling with more responsibilities and stressors. We don’t realize how easy life was until we are adults.

8. Don’t loose touch of your friends. A strong social network will follow you throughout your life and open up all kinds of doors.

9. Pay attention to what you are learning in your classes. You don’t want to end up on Jay Leno’s sidewalk skit of stupid people!

10. Go to a traditional university (UT!). I attended a local university and lived at home because we couldn’t afford for me to live on campus somewhere. I’ve always longed to have that traditional college experience.

What would you put on your list?  Would you do anything differently?

Author: Kim Peterson, MA, LPC-S, RPT

Kim is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Clinical Supervisor, and Registered Play Therapist in Dallas, Texas.

5 thoughts on “What Would You Tell Your Teenage Self?”

  1. Oh man Kim, I sooo wish I could talk to my high school self lol. A few things I would say:

    Find real friends. I was pretty social because of all the extra curricular activities I did and the leadership positions I held, but I wouldn’t say that the people I hung out with were real friends. Or there were a few potential ones that could have blossomed but I didn’t really delve into it. So I’d talk to people at lunch time but we wouldn’t really hang out outside of school stuff.

    Stop being such a know-it-all. I seriously thought I was one of those people who was “an old soul in a young body.” Cringe! I guess I thought this because I tended to think a lot, but my gosh, how obnoxious of me to think that I knew more than others did. I have since given that up many years ago when I realized I’ll NEVER know as much as I can, and that I’ll always look back and think how ignorant I was in my 20s, 30s, etc.

    Have a summer job or internship that has something to do with a career you’re interested in. I spent my summers watching Arsenio Hall at night and waking up at noon to eat Kraft Mac n Cheese. Yeah, not exactly productive!

    And finally, dress better!! I think I look cute but sheesh even these days I still wonder what the heck I was thinking wearing a certain outfit, and this was no different in high school. I always imagined dressing better and making all those guys that I liked but didn’t like me jealous haha!

  2. I definitely agree with giving parents a break, positive friendships, and going to a traditional university. I really wish I was able to have the whole college campus experience.

    However, if I had gone away I would not have meet my husband nor would I have the job I have now (which I love). Life has a way of playing out so even disappointments can turn into our best blessings.

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