From Our Readers
August 11, 2015 12:38 pm

When you’re a teenager, it seems like you need to make a million choices a day: what to wear, what to say, who to listen to, what to do in general. If I could go back in time, the first thing I would tell myself is to block out about 98 percent of those voices, and to loosen up. It all seemed so scary back then; I wish I knew that it was going to turn out fine. Here’s what I wish I knew when I was starting high school.

You’re going to land on your feet, I promise

You know the saying about cats always landing on their paws? Turns out not only cats have that ability. All those times you thought you ruined a friendship, a paper, “your reputation,” you actually didn’t. People can be forgiving and apologies really work. Also, one bad paper won’t kill you, nor will your teacher for reading it.

So don’t worry about that bad test or your teachers nasty comment. It. Will. Be. Okay. And your reputation? You really shouldn’t be concerned about that. You’ve got great friends and when you get older, you’ll have even greater ones. Who cares what people you vaguely know think? Just keep having fun.

Your parents aren’t always right, but you should still be nice to them

You’ve reached maximum puberty right now and that means you’re thinking about everything around you more. You’re starting to reflect on bigger problems than the ones in your own life: racism, equality, the environment, politics and religion. You’re going to have different opinions than your parents.

Yes, they raised you. No, they don’t know everything. But yes, you should still hear them out. You disagreeing with them doesn’t mean “you’re a real troublemaker, young lady.” It just means you read and you think. That’s a great thing, don’t stop. Talk about it. Discuss the different possibilities, but definitely do not be afraid to think independently. I know it’s hard to be the odd one out in a discussion at the dinner table, but as long as you politely and firmly speak your mind, they’ll respect you for it. Family is complicated, and the way you relate to it is going to change. That is so, so OK.

Speak up about what you want

I know this sounds a little cliché, but it really is valuable. You always try your best to please people, which is great. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to lie about what you think or want. If you never speak up, you’ll just stay angry and miserable on the inside And if someone at school is mean to you, tell them. I realize it’s easier to discuss someone’s behavior behind their back, but it won’t solve anything. Confront them and see if they’re willing to change their attitude. And if they don’t? Well, at least you’ll know what kind of friend they are.

Have fun with what you’re wearing! It’s all going to seem silly in time anyway.

“I can’t believe I wore that just two years ago”: I bet you don’t think you’ll ever have to repeat that phrase again. But of course you will. When you look back at what you wore, the trends are going to look so out of whack. But rather than making you feel afraid to pair those red trousers and pink sweater, think of it as an opportunity. Every trend is going to change! It’ll all seem outdated. So just go for it and have fun.

Laugh it off

Right about this time, you’re making a big deal about that girl who called you a poodle. It’s weird! It’s awkward! It’s also…pretty dumb. The sooner you laugh about awkward, stupid, scary moments, the sooner you’ll learn to put them behind you. Crying your eyes out because PMS is killing you? Just eat some carrots, ice-cream, baked rice, whatever you can find and laugh about it. Big deals turn into the greatest jokes.

Check out Taylor Swift

Start practicing your choreo’s, gurl! She’ll be your main dance pal in three years.

Esther Lamberigts is a lover of anything eatable, a proud owner of poodle-like hair and a sucker for live theater.  If you ask her, joking around is the best way to get through the day. She’d say YOLO but Carpe Diem is classier, so we’ll go with that.

[Image courtesy Universal Pictures]