This piece was originally going to be “37 things I’ve learnt in 37 years” but then I realised I haven’t actually learnt 37 things worth mentioning. So instead I started thinking about some of the things I wish I’d known as a teenager. Things that would have made the whole process a little less like I was living in the background of a Smashing Pumpkins video and more like someone coming into adulthood in a functional and healthy way.
Don’t worry about following the crowd. I tried my best to follow along with what everyone in my year group was doing until I was about 16. It was exhausting, completely unnecessary and I achieved nothing. It’s hard at first to go against the grain but vital if you want to develop a strong sense of self in the future. It’s important to work out if what you want is really what you want or if it’s what other people want you want. When you’re being your authentic self you’ll attract similar people to you. This is how you find your tribe.
Be nice to your parents. It may seem like a drag when they’re nagging you to do your homework, take a shower, help around the house and whatever else but this is stuff you’ll one day have to take responsibility for doing yourself, so get some practice in now. Making sure you’re doing the things you’re supposed to be doing and not doing the things you shouldn’t be doing also shows that you’re important and loved. Parents don’t get on your back for the fun of it despite how it seems sometimes. They don’t hate you, they do care and they’ll have your back when it counts.
Don’t take horrible behaviour to heart. Name calling, being left out, bullying and other nastiness is almost always about the person perpetrating it, not the victim. As upsetting as it is, it’s not about you and everything about them. They are projecting their unhappiness and insecurities onto other people in an attempt to make themselves feel better. Try not to give the reaction they’re craving and make sure you tell teachers, parents or your boss rather than suffering in silence. If it’s happening online consider disabling your social media for the time being. Happy people don’t go out of their way to be nasty, ever.
What you eat and drink makes a difference. When I was a teenager I was a junk food addict and I wish I knew then how much this bad food was contributing to how crappy I was feeling. Unfortunately this has followed me into adult life and I still have days where I stuff my face with cake despite trying to follow a more plant based diet. Good food will also help your complexion, hair and nail growth, mood and energy levels. Getting into good habits early is so important.
Let people enjoy things. It’s a real big waste of time to worry what other people are doing. OK you’re a “sporty girl” but do you really need to worry about girls that turn up to games in make up and cute skirts? You’re a “metal head” so why concern yourself with the girl sitting two seats down wearing a pink dress and listening to Taylor Swift? Other people making different, but still completely valid choices doesn’t affect your own, so just let them be happy and concentrate on what you’re doing.