This post offers truths every teen needs to hear.
Do you ever wish you could sit down with your kids and cut it to them straight?
I’m not talking about turning a news story into a teaching moment or harping on them about the importance of eating healthy or wearing a coat on a freezing cold day. I’m talking about passing along real-life lessons.
You know… the kind of “ahaaa…now I get it” insight that hits home, tugs at your heart, makes you think on a deeper level and, hopefully, inspires you to make positive changes in your life?
My kids are growing up. And, although I’ve taught them mounds of lessons I pray they’ll remember when the chips are down, there are still a few solid pieces of life advice I feel I need to share.
Before my kids leave my tender care and begin to experience all the beauty and harshness this world has to offer, I’m passing along these tough truths.
Truths about life. Truths about what matters and what doesn’t. Truths about their mortality. Truths about their responsibilities and truths about heartache. Yes, they may be harsh, but they’re true.
Here are 15 tough truths my teens (and every teen) need to hear.
#1 Not Everyone is Going to Like You.
You won’t always be included. You won’t always fit in. You won’t always be liked. And, that’s okay. Don’t waste your time wondering why or trying to convince people to appreciate you or see your value. Focus on being a good person and being the best you can be. Don’t waste your time proving it to people who don’t matter. Just move on and find a tribe that accepts and appreciates you for who you are.
#2 No Matter How Hard You Try, You’ll Never Really Fit In.
Plain and simple… you’re different. You don’t have the same feelings, wishes, likes, dislikes, body type, talent or dreams as anyone else. So stop trying to fit in. Just do YOU.
#3 Your Mental Health is Fragile. Protect It.
Simply because you’re young, the world assumes you can “handle it,” that you don’t really know what true pressure is, and that your stress is exaggerated. It isn’t. Being a teenager is hard. The pressure you face day in and day out is relentless. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
If you need a mental health day, take it. If you need to cry, cry. If you’re feeling weak, lean on someone. If you need to speak to a professional, do it. Your mental health is more fragile than you realize. Protect it.
#4 Holding Yourself to Unrealistic Standards Will Only Lead to Suffering.
Gauging your value or self-worth on the photoshopped haze of synthetic realism will only make you question yourself and prevent the world from seeing who you are. Set yourself free from the comparison game and be strong, brave, independent, confident and bold. Above all, in a world full of fake, be real.
#5 If You Don’t Learn to Be Accountable, You Will Be Held Accountable.
Every decision you make and every word you choose to speak has consequences. Some positive, some negative. You, and you alone, need to hold yourself accountable for your words and actions, otherwise, you’ll surely be held accountable by others.
#6 Learn to Listen to Your Heart with a Heaping Dose of Logic.
Spend time alone. Get to know yourself… really know yourself. Learn to listen to your heart and, perhaps more importantly, learn to merge reason, logic, and methodical thinking with what your heart is telling you. Your heart might dictate your feelings, but your brain should dictate your direction.
#7 One Day You’ll Wake Up and You’ll Be Old.
When you’re a carefree 16-year-old, 25 seems old. And, even though you’re convinced you have all the time in the world, you might be surprised how fast 20 creeps up on you, how 30 shows up at your door when you least expect it and how 40 hits you over the head like a baseball bat. Life moves fast. Aspire to keep up with it. Live adventurously, explore, try new things, meet new people, laugh and be brave. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Decide how you want to live your life and then go do it.
#8 Borrowing Yourself from Others Will Only Erode Who You’re Meant to Be.
Stop asking for everyone’s opinion. Stop relying on other’s approval. Stop looking for reassurance. Stand on your own two feet and make those choices on your own. The harder you try to seek acceptance or approval from others, the more you’ll be losing a piece of yourself with every decision and “borrowing yourself” from others which will only erode who you are.
#9 Life Isn’t Fair. It’s That Simple.
Your parents can only protect you for so long. Eventually, you’re going to come to the realization that some things in life are unfair. You won’t get the grade you deserved. You won’t get into the college of your dreams even though you earned it. You won’t get the internship you fought hard for. Life isn’t fair. It’s that simple. These life experiences can make you bitter or better. Choose better.
#10 Your Parents Will Help Pave Your Road, It’s Your Job to Figure Out Where the Road Leads.
Your parents have supported you, guided you, helped you find your passion and paved your path up until now. Now it’s time for you to take the wheel. This is your journey and your life. Grab hold of the wheel and start driving even if you don’t know where the road leads. You can always slow down, take a detour or turn around… just keep moving.
#11 Life May Hit You Hard. The Upside Is, It Will Make You Stronger.
The sooner you get used to the ebb and flow of life with all its ups and downs, the happier you’ll be. You may get dumped or cheated on by your boyfriend, you may fail a math test you studied hard for, you may not make the team, get the part in the play or get the ACT score you were hoping for. Use these experiences as stones to build a stronger wall. After you’ve felt sorry for yourself for a while, pick yourself back up, smile and keep moving. Resilience is the key to life.
#12 Not Every Friendship is Meant to Last. Sometimes It Will Feel Like a Revolving Door.
You’re growing, changing, learning and finding out who you are. You can’t expect every “bestie” you had in elementary or middle school to hang on during your journey. And, your friends are changing, too. It’s not a rejection if friends move on. You’re not being rude or uncaring if you move on. Open your heart to new friendships as you evolve – it’s all about surrounding yourself with the right people at the right time in your life.
#13 You Are Not Invincible.
You’re at the glorious stage in life where you feel as though you’ll live forever. But heed this warning, you are not invincible. You can die. You can get injured. You can make decisions that impact the lives of others. Make choices wisely. Think about the consequences of your actions. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Life is short, but it will be a lot shorter if you don’t realize your own mortality.
#14 Everything is Temporary.
Every struggle you face is temporary, just like every amazing high in life has a way of settling back to normalcy. Be prepared to accept change knowing full well that there are no steadfast “givens” in life. Embrace the special moments with friends and family and be self-aware enough to acknowledge the “good times” as they’re happening.
#15 Your Parents Won’t Be Around Forever.
You’re getting older… and so are your parents. There will be a day when they’re no longer around to support and guide you, nag you when they see you veering off path, worry about you when you drive off in the car or cheer the loudest when you’ve made them proud. Take time to appreciate the sacrifices they’ve made to help you, the unconditional love they’ve given you, the time they’ve spent to teach you and the dreams they’ve helped you fulfill. Love them. Hug them. Spend time with them. Thank them. One day your time with them will only be cherished memories.