6 Things I Would Tell My Teenage Self Today
The unexamined life is not worth living.
I’m still only in my mid-20s, but looking back, there are things I would tell my teenage self during those “growing up as a teenager” years simply because there were many moments when the term growing pains rang terribly true for me. There were beautiful moments for sure, but the feeling lost and strange part over a long period of time and the intense self-hatred, disgust, and shame had become so normal that I started withdrawing from social situations and developed traits of covert narcissism, which had its own negative consequences.
Thus, in retrospect, knowing these things (which I’m about to list here) could have spared me some emotional pain (and we all know how emotional pain and physical pain are like essentially intertwined).
6 things I would tell my teenage self:
You don’t have to feel so small
More accurately, you don’t have to think so little of yourself. As a teenager I used to feel so inconsequential compared to other people. When in reality, every human being has their own strengths and flaws, and more importantly, everyone has the potential to develop and get better.
And remember, no one is that amazing, yet everyone is special. Think about it.
You are worthy of connection
Don’t listen to those who patronize you, call you ugly, criticize you, treat you differently, and reject you be it in verbal or non-verbal ways. Again, no one is that inherently special, meaning no one is that inherently unspecial. People treat other people lousy because of their own issues.
Learn about mental health, please
As much as your studies and music mean to you, please dedicate some time to understanding your emotions and how you’re affected by any stressful experiences and to coping with all these. Don’t suppress. Don’t deny what’s inside. Ask for help.
Be a nerd but get involved
Okay, I’m assuming that nerds don’t socialize. But really, nerds tend to be passionate and disciplined around what they feel strongly about that they might forget the importance of being around people and building meaningful connections.
When you’re the type who tends to be unsure of yourself (your beliefs, your wants, your decisions), you may naturally veer towards trusting others, and sometimes others’ view of you too. The danger therein lies in the fact that you might internalize their views of you that may not only be false but bad for your mental health and growth.
You don’t have to get along with everyone
It’s good to make friends and acquaintances, but don’t feel bad about yourself or others if you somehow don’t seem to get along with them. Meaning, you don’t have to like everyone, and it’s okay if some people don’t like you. There are bound to be folks who not only don’t tickle your fancy, but get on your nerves either deliberately or because their personality and values are worlds away from yours. And maybe they view you the same way too. Acknowledge that.
Now it’s your turn: what would you tell your teenage self?