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Self-Improvement

Advice to My Teenage Self


What would I say to my teenage self? It’s true that wisdom comes with age and this has proven to be true with every passing day. Looking back, there are a lot of things that I would have done differently to improve the quality of life that I’m living today. I’m sure if I met my older self I’d have lots of questions. But would I be able to take my own advice?

Knowing what I know now, and with the benefit of hindsight that only comes with the years, I think I’d have to start with where I am today and ask my teenage whether that’s the place I want to be. My teenage self would be interested in whether I was happy, wealthy, well traveled and so on. I’d have to be truthful and say if I rewind the clock I’d do a few things differently. Here’s my list to myself: 

1. Study Harder

Life is so much easier when parents take care of your needs and expenses. Grab the opportunity to advance your studies and maybe join more educational clubs. The opportunities that you have now will not be so easy in your (my) future. Going back to school will require years of saving and so much sacrifice. Your education today will impact your future in a big way.

Get up and ready for school knowing that every day is an opportunity to perfect your future. Learn when to focus and when to have fun. There’s a thin line between these two and failure to distinguish it may end up in regret.

2. Explore your Talents

How I wish I’d tested myself a bit more in this regard. Yes, I said study harder but of course being book smart is not all there is to life. The curriculum knows that you need a break from books so get into play mode when the need arises. Participate in sports and join fun clubs as well. Who knows? Those excellent cooking skills you’ll learn about in your late 20s could be developed now – work on it to become the Martha Stewart of tomorrow.

People who work in line with their passion and talent are more fulfilled than those working according to what their grades dictate. Talents such as singing, sports, athletic and crafting are great talents that also have the potential of making you good money.

3. Choose Better Friends

When I (you) was young, popularity was like the number one issue. It was determined by the number of friends that I and others had. I’m not sure whether I’d believe my older self but I’d like to say it’s an unhealthy mentality that shouldn’t be dragged into adulthood. The people that you choose to have around you may either build, hold you back, or even destroy you.

Although a strong support system is important in life, your focus should be on forming quality relationships instead of quality. I wish I’d stuck with say three real friends who undoubtedly had my back than the 20 who were superficial and seemed to lurk around to see what was in it for them. Be keen on the red flags that denote bad friendship and slowly detach from these kinds of people. Take note of the people who always come to your rescue when a need arises and keep them around.

4. Have a Plan and Start Working on It

I know – only and adult would come out with something like this. Gliding through childhood and teens with no care in the world feels great – I admit that – but the consequences will greatly impact your life. It is such a good idea to craft a plan early in life and start working on it. Explore the life choices of the people around you and determine what you’d like to be when you grow up. Ask to accompany your parents and relatives to their places of work occasionally and observe. Alternatively, ask questions on what their careers entail and pay attention to detail.

A lot of adults are stuck in dead end jobs that lead to their misery because they still don’t know where their passion lays. Others are living in regret because they discovered their calling way too late and there isn’t much that they can do about it.

5. Take Better Care of your Health

Your future is full of some pretty grim conditions and diseases that have led to the death of millions of people. Although some of these diseases will not kill you, they will impact the quality of your life in such a way that enslaves you to drugs and strict restrictions and diets. Avoid the temptation to sip beer, sniff drugs, and smoke cigarettes in college even if all the cool kids are doing it.

Opt for healthy food choices even if it isn’t delicious or flattering to your friends. 

6. Enjoy Your Time

Look, I don’t want to give you (me) some kind of complex by coming out with all this stuff. Childhoods and teenage years are where many fond memories are created. A few chores and rules on how to conduct yourself are not as torturous as you think. Play more, dance in the rain, worry less, sleep more, attend more sleepovers, laugh endlessly and simply make the best of the joys of childhood. These are the little luxuries that you will miss when you get older and responsibilities weigh heavy on your shoulders. Live now when you still can.

Adulthood comes with its own worries and demands that could easily interfere with your ability to enjoy the fun things in life. Deadlines and tight schedules will probably hinder you from enjoying the perks of life. The hearty laughter with your friends will be to mask the troubles in your life, running will be to keep your blood pressure under control, hanging out with your friends will only be because it’s break time at the office, birthdays will go unnoticed for years, and quality time with friends and family will only be on holidays.

7. Start Saving Early

There is no right time to start saving your money. The time is always right as long as long as you have extra coins in your pocket. Certain habits such as saving are best cultivated early in life. Ask for a piggy bank and see how much you’ll have saved at the end of the month. The longer this grows on you, the better your discipline with money in the future.

8. Don’t be a Prisoner of your Own Life

Some decisions have bitter consequences that will impact the rest of your life. These include; skipping classes, crime, delinquency, early marriage, getting pregnant at teenage and drunken driving. I managed to avoid some of these but I’ve seen the entire list unfold in others and the repercussions of these acts are not worth it.

Choose to look at the regrets you experience as life lessons. I won’t pretend that following my own advice will spare you from pain or heartache, but take mishaps as a chance to do better and not as something to destroy you. Have more confidence in yourself and others will as well. What you think of yourself is more important than what others think of you. Your destiny lays in your hands so make smarter decisions when you still can.

By Ruthie

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