tips for teens

16 Nov

I don’t know why, but I feel the need to dish out some advice to teens.   Mostly because it’s a very transitional time for people, and also because it’s good to remind myself.

Here’s the short list:

1.  Stay out of jail.

2.  Don’t get yourself or someone else pregnant.

3.  Don’t pick up an addiction.

4.  Finish High School.

The way I see it, if a teenager can do these four things, they’re going into their twenties in good shape.   These are the very basics, and they don’t guarantee happiness or anything, but if you accomplish these four things, you’ve covered all the stuff that can do long term damage for you at this point.   Now if you want to be happy–this is what I’d do:

1.  Take care of your teeth.  Nobody will tell you to do this, but god! If you just remember to brush and floss every day now, you won’t have to deal with all the stupid teeth stuff later on which is painful, expensive, and never as good as what you’re born with.

2.  Work-out.   I’m not saying that you have to get a whole exercise regimen, but find an activity that is physical to do for 20-30 minutes a day.   It can be anything that just gets you up and moving.  A good walk is enough, hike, dance, ANYTHING.  Not only will it put  you in better shape, but regular workouts make people happier.

3.  Avoid processed foods, but otherwise don’t sweat your diet.  If you can cut the soda, chips, and sweets down you’ll be fine.  Those things are meant to be once-in-a-while treats, not food you eat daily.   

4.  Ignore popularity.   Popular is this strange power in high school that exists nowhere else.   I’m not saying there’s not cliques and such in the real world, but they don’t really matter all that much.  Right now popularity seems like everything, but truth be told the most popular person in class has no more real friends than you do.  You don’t believe this, but it’s true.

5.  Sex is your decision.  Never have sex when you really don’t want to.   Right now all the adults around you are probably telling you different things about sex.   Ultimately, even with all this advice, you’ll be on your own here, because even with all the rules in the world, you’ll probably find a way to do it anyway.   I’m not going to talk about the right time, or the right place, but I am going to say never have sex if you’re scared, or feel like it’s expected, or someone’s pressuring you to do it.  You need to protect yourself until you’re ready, and only you decide when you are ready.  Nobody else.

6.  Stick to your real friends.  There are people who, while they might not be exciting, will support you through thick and thin.  Those people you need to stick to, because you’ll be tempted to gravitate towards people who are exciting and cool instead.

7.  Try not to be a snot, even when people deserve it.   That’s just classy.

8.  Never bully or pick on other people.   

9.  Be kind to the elderly.  For whatever reason there seems to be a mutual distrust between the very old and teenagers.   Probably because both are grouchy, hormonal, and sick of people talking down to them.   Older folks have a lot on their plate–they usually don’t have much money, their bodies hurt, and while the world will flock around and support you if you have a fatal illness at a young age, if your old and death is right around the corner you pretty much have to face it yourself.   It’s scary.   I would like to see all teenagers be as nice to them as the kid with cancer in high school.  They need it.

10.  If you drink or do any other naughty thing (which I’m not condoning, but this is real life we’re talking about) make sure you are in a safe place with people you trust.  Bad stuff can happen, particularly because you’re inexperienced with this sort of thing.  Stay safe.

11.  Don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in real life.   Not only does that stuff come back around to you eventually, but while a stupid comment will get forgotten in the real world, online stuff is there forever.  Assume that people will see stuff that you wouldn’t want to.

12.  Detach from your phones and electronics once in a while to interact with the real world.  You need to learn how to have conversations with people, how to connect and enjoy others.  Developing this will get you way farther than anything else at this time in your life.   

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