LIFE AS A TEENAGER . . .
I know exactly how you feel. Life as a teenager can be so hard. You are not a kid anymore because you are smart enough to observe and analyze your surroundings, but you are still not an adult because there are still a lot of experiences in life that you need to have and lessons that you need to learn from these experiences. To top it all, the hormonal imbalance in your body can really mess you up emotionally. I have been there. I was in it for 6 years exploring what life is all about! I am not saying that life after teenage would be smooth and you would suddenly be endowed with enlightenment on life by God. What I am telling you is that, life can be particularly hard as a teenager. It somehow only reminds me of one quote, "Half knowledge is dangerous". We are trying so hard not to go wrong or get hurt while still trying to make sense of life and deal with situations that we are not mature enough to handle and not even naive enough to be ignorant. I told you, I have been there.
But, looking back, I will tell you what, enjoy every experience of life. Let this be your little guide to enjoy life as a teenager.
Dealing with Life:
As a teenager, I had a major problem with completing my chores on time. And at that time, all that I needed to do was finish my assignments, study for the upcoming test and clean my room! Now, I have loads of things to do; cook, clean, work and workout while striking a balance between all my relationships related to work, family and friends. That really is a lot of work. So, I will just give you one golden tip, quoting Benjamin Franklin;
"Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today." ~ Benjamin Franklin
Life has become a lot easier because I do finish all my work on time so I have enough space in my schedule to let my hair down and enjoy for a bit. You know, half the problems as a teenager arise because we hate doing things. We'd rather go and have fun than sit down and take care of our duties and responsibilities. That is exactly why you have so much drama in your life; your parents won't let you have a night-out with friends because you didn't clean your room or your professor is threatening you to take you to the principal because you haven't finished your assignment for the 'nth' time. Plus, there is the guilt and pressure of having to face and complete the pending chores once you are back at home or in school.
Dealing with Self Criticism:-Cut yourself some slack when you go wrong. Even though everyone thinks that teenagers are a bunch of rebellions who don't care about anything, in reality, the complete opposite is true. Okay, may be not the rebellion part. But, you do go back to bed every night cursing yourself for doing things the wrong way and blaming yourself for not knowing what was the right thing to do. You actually spend most of your teen years trying to act right in your head and ultimately, not enjoying life as a teenager the way you should. If you don't make mistakes, you won't learn. When you make a mistake, forgive yourself and move on. Embrace your mistakes. Don't repeat them because there isn't plenty of time to go wrong. Learn from others' mistakes too, it will save you some time on making your own.
To tell you the truth, most teenagers spend these years regretting over things instead of living the experience. Don't try so hard to be right all the time, you will end up being more dissatisfied with yourself because your perceptions greatly vary from others, especially adults.
Handling Romantic Relationships:-All teenagers get romantically involved with someone at this age. Either you have a crush on someone or you are dating someone. Love really does mess up the already topsy-turvy equation of your life. May be you spend hours daydreaming about your eye candy or just talking to your friends trying to understand why is your girlfriend/boyfriend acting the way she/he is doing. Relationships need a lot of work and are one of the most common causes of stress among teens. Don't lose your mind over them because you are too naive right now and are still getting to understand what a heartbreak feels like. There is really no point sulking over a breakup. Instead, go out and meet new people. This world is filled with plenty of potential love interests and you will meet the right one some day. In your relationships, avoid thinking much about the future and concentrate on living in the present, until it is your age to settle down. But, don't engage in hurtful behavior. Also, don't let your love life affect your grades because more than the breakup, 10 years down the line, it will hurt to know that you could have done better academically but you didn't try.
Parents! Parents! Parents!:-About 7 years ago, the people who you loved the most, suddenly seem to become the cause of half the stress in your life, even though you still love them. They just don't get you and all their rules suffocate you. A negative attitude towards each other in a parent-child bond can ruin what should be the closest relationship in your life. Most teenagers are just stuck up with the notion that their parents won't be flexible with them when you are so eager to open your wings and fly high. What you really forget is that your parents were teenagers too and have been through the hardships of that phase. And now, they are doing what any mama bear would do, protecting the baby from unnecessary pain. I agree that they can be really rigid sometimes and give you a hard time, but you need to earn their trust and faith. Talking to them and involving them in your life is one of the first steps to build a healthy relationship with your parents. Just do the basics of what they expect from you; good behavior, good grades and cleanliness. They will definitely be up for negotiating with some of your demands so you can enjoy life as a teenager. And face it, if you are giving them a hard time with your aggression and rebellion, don't expect them to come to you with a box of chocolates.
Making and Breaking Friendships:-During your teens, you will make many new friendships that will last a lifetime while there may be many old friendships that you may just end up losing. You tend to have most disturbances in your friendships during your teenage years because every teen is so sensitive, they don't waste time to react on the smallest incidents. Hopefully, your friendships will survive the hardships of teen years, but don't be disheartened if they don't. Also, you need to choose your friends wisely so you can rely on them and probably fall back on during the hard times of your life. There is a long way to go and you are going to meet a lot of people in your life, some of whom will stay in your life for long while others will leave.
"Don't laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find a face of his own." ~ Logan Pearsall Smith
Save Face from the Bullies:-A lot of people have been victims of bullying at school. Life can be so miserable that all you wish for, each and every day, is that you miraculously get transferred to another school/city or better yet, be home-schooled! Well, if it at all soothes your pain, many celebrities have been bullied too as kids for their geek factor, unusual body parts or behavior. The hottie from Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, was bullied for her big luscious lips; Twilight heart-throb Robert Pattinson was often physically abused at school for thinking of himself as an actor; Lady Gaga was constantly subjected to ridicule for her fashion sense and the writer of this article that you are reading was also bullied for being an introvert (okay, I am no celebrity!). But, you know what, everyone grows out of it. One day, all those bullied kids prove to the entire world what they are made of. No coward can admit to being bullied. It takes A LOT of confidence and pride. So, don't worry because you will have your day too. For now, remember, just don't ever succumb to it and bow down in front of your bullies. If need be, take it to your parents or the school administration for help and advice.
How to be Cool:-There is a lot of negative and positive peer pressure amongst teens. Some of us have friends who are very competitive and strive for better grades. Others want to wear better clothes and accessories. Every teenager is obsessed with the way he/she looks. You want better clothes to appear more attractive than your peers and get all the attention. Most of us want to be popular in school and so, you beg your parents to get you the best clothes, which they obviously don't. To deal with that situation, I'd say that if your parent is not willing to afford all those expensive clothes for you, get yourself a part-time job or spend your pocket-money wisely. If you want it, better earn it! Then, there is substance abuse and your peers might pressurize you into indulging in smoking, drinking and drugs. It can be really fun to try out these things but once you are addicted, the effects will become physically visible as you grow older. You will end up looking like a 50-year-old at 35! It depends from person to person how quickly your habits age you. No matter what you do, it should be your personal choice that you take full responsibility of when things go wrong. Don't rely on your peers to pull you out of mess, they have their own to handle. And, instead of trying to be one of the crowd by adopting similar habits, dare to be different because not everyone does.
Dealing with Physical Changes:-Your teenage years are that time of your life when you experience the most rapid changes emotionally, mentally and physically. Out of these, physical changes can really boggle you. Knowing about these changes just doesn't suffice because it is a different story when you actually go through this. In fact, most parents end up having a really awkward conversation about these things. Almost every other month, you will notice a new change in your body. This is the time when girls learn about periods and cope with it, while boys deal with changes in voice, hair growth and other changes in their body. Your physical features start changing and transition can heighten anticipation. You might become the poster child of duckling-to-swan or just remain one for the ducklings. It is hard for both the sexes. You suddenly experience feelings that you didn't think existed and you try to come to peace with them. Physical changes give everyone a hard time, but nearly everyone adjusts to these changes by 18. Instead of becoming obsessed and insecure about your appearance, try to accept and bring the best out of yourself. This is a good time for both boys and girls to take up sports. It helps you get a fit body. If you have acne, it is okay. It all clears up with time and basic cleanliness. Don't interfere much with it else it will only spread like wild-fire in a forest. If it bothers you so much, try to hide the pimple.
Coping with Depression:-I remember being so stressed out during my teenage years that I would have persistent headaches. Most teenagers are prone to mood swings due to hormonal changes. They often tend to have the blues. If you are having suicidal thoughts and you think that ending your life would be a better option than dealing with all the depression, let me tell you that you are not alone. Most teenagers secretly have such thoughts but it's just a part of this phase in life. We all come out of it really well and life becomes a lot less harder because you become more familiar with it. You might often want to disconnect yourself from everyone around you. All that we need is someone to talk to us and listen. So, find a listener in a friend or a suicide prevention hot-line. Just talking it out helps relieve the stress of school, friends and everything else. It is really not worth brooding over things and feeling sad. You shouldn't really be wasting your time when you could pursue your hobbies and interests to become multifaceted!
Procrastination:-Whether it's the cute guy or girl that you just met and are absolutely intoxicated by their thoughts or it's the damn video game that just won't let you live in peace unless you cross this super-difficult stage that is keeping you away from finishing your assignments, procrastination is a serious problem with teenagers. Nobody is particularly excited about doing the dishes or clearing up the kitchen. Neither was I. But, trust me, procrastination is the mother of most problems. Even though it is so thrilling to push yourself to complete the assignment, within 2 hours of the deadline, that everyone else took a week to finish, the stress is just not worth it. See, you are going to do it sometime so why not just do it right now and then spend rest of your time doing your favorite things without having to constantly worry about doing your chores, in the back of your mind. By the way, stress is the cause of acne and weight gain. Now you see why I am asking you to stop procrastinating.
I wish someone would have really understood me back then and honestly, given me all these tips to enjoy life as a teenager. Things would have probably been easier although I would have still been a rebel. But, at least I would not have goofed up the way I did with so many things. I am glad that my parents were always there to slap some sense into me, not so gently though. Most teenagers don't have the best of the relationships with their parents. It is okay. Such is the age. Just remember, no matter how you enjoy your life as a teenager, do not do something that will cause irreparable damage to your bond with your parents or anything that makes you too embarrassed to hold your head high. In your teenage years, life is all about experiences and learning from them, so enjoy every bit of it to the fullest.
Concluding with a little humor,
"Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath." ~ Arnold H. Glasow