It’s no secret that my teenage years were rough. Yours probably were too. Working with high school students, I see the struggles they deal with and I’m reminded of my own struggles from back in the day. Every single day, I wish I could go back to my high school years so that I can relive them knowing all the things I know now.
What would I tell teenage me?
1. Don’t beg for attention or affection.
I was so desperate to be liked, to be “cool”, and to be “popular”. I chased the kids who treated me like garbage. I covered for them while they didn’t give a damn about me. I wanted to be friends with them so badly. I made out with guys who were “cool” so that I could maybe absorb some of their coolness and be someone. I chased people who saw me as disposable and I longed for their attention. I was so insecure that I was blind to the poor treatment I was getting. Looking back, I wish I did my own thing and let people get to know me before using me.
2. Stand up for yourself.
I was severely bullied after a “friend” spread rumors about me. Instead of confronting these demons and standing up for myself, I let it destroy me. I loathed waking up and going to school. I was terrified to walk in the hallways alone. I was scared of these kids who would tease me and I wouldn’t give anyone a chance because I figured they were out to get me as well. Looking back, if I had just defended myself or showed strength, they probably would have moved on quicker.
3. Be nice to your parents.
I was such a little brat to my parents. I didn’t understand how hard each one of them worked every single day to provide the life they did for me. I took them for granted growing up. I wish I was nicer to them and that I showed them more affection. Now as an adult, I truly appreciate all that they did for me and I regret not doing anything to show them that.
4. Study. Like, actually study.
I was always an average student. I finished high school with a GPA in the 80s and I know I could have done better. My parents tried to push me to study more or attend extra review sessions, but I couldn’t be bothered. Looking back though, if I had done those things, maybe I would have found a career that I’m happy in. Maybe I would have gotten a scholarship for college and wouldn’t be in so much student loan debt. I wish I had done more for myself in regards to my academics.
5. Join a club or a sport.
In high school, I was part of nothing. No sports, no clubs, no honor societies, no plays. Nothing. I think this had a lot to do with the fact that I was severely bullied and I saw school as a danger zone, so I couldn’t wait to leave. I remember, I would bring all my stuff to my last period class so I could leave right away instead of going to my locker. I was so alone and lonely and just wanted to be at home, comfortable and safe. In hindsight, joining an activity probably would have helped because I would have made friends and felt more confident but at the time, I didn’t see that.
I can’t turn back time, but I wish I could. I wish I could change the past. But the only thing to do now is look towards the future, right?