What Advice Would Give Your Teenage Self?

9:22 AM

I am a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and Better Than Before. She recently has started recording a podcast with her sister, Elizabeth Craft, titled (what else) Happier. If you're a podcast junkie like I am, this is a great one to check out.

On the most recent episode, Gretchen had her 16-year-old daughter, Eliza, as her guest to discuss what life is like as a teenager in today's world. Eliza solicited advice from Gretchen's listeners: "what advice do you have for teenagers that you wish you could tell your teenage self?".

So what would I say to my teenage self?

First, it gets better. As a teenager, I felt so unsure of myself and of my place in the world. I felt like I didn't know who I was, what my strengths were, what I was supposed to do with my life, and if I would be successful. In fact, I seriously doubted that I would be successful. Things really didn't start to click for me until I turned 30, when I began to see things in a more positive light. And what I discovered was interesting - that person I questioned as a teenager was still the person I was in my thirties, but it was okay to be that person. In fact, that person was actually kinda cool!

Second, just because an adult can do a certain thing, or like a certain thing, and you don't, that's okay. It doesn't mean you're less mature. My mother has amazing fine-motor coordination. She can do the most detailed, intricate work with a needle and thread. I always thought that was a sign of maturity, that I would be able to do that kind of work when I matured. Well, I'm in my mid-40's and I still can't do that kind of stuff. It doesn't mean I'm not an adult. It just means my mother has an extraordinary talent.

Finally, when trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, figure out what you love to do and then find a way to get paid for it. That is my definition of a career. Eliza, your mom's advice is spot-on: look at what you loved to do as a ten-year-old. For me, at 10 years old, I loved politics and world events. I loved travel. I loved maps. I loved plotting routes to destinations on maps. I also loved dance and performing. And what do I do today? I am a social studies teacher and a Zumba instructor.

So I am asking you guys:  what advice would you give to yourself as a teenager? Post in the comments below - I'd love to hear what you think!

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  1. I would say that not giving into peer pressure didn't feel cool at the time, but people respect that you stand up for what you believe in--especially when you walk the walk.


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