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teenboyYou hear it all of the time, “well if I could only go back and tell myself… [insert lesson here] …than everything would be different now.” Given that we grow and learn throughout life it only seems natural that we would come to understand things more clearly as we got to experience them first hand. The seemingly difficult part is that it usually isn’t until after we have gone through the hardship, challenge or frustrations of doing the opposite that we come to realize the so-called “better” way.

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Before beginning with the list that I’ve come up with, I’d like to share the following precursors with you all:

  • This list is one I have put together based on my own life. That being the case, some –or potentially even all –of these lessons may or may not be relatable to you. I encourage you to add as many of your own lessons as you can come up with in the comment section of the article.
  • The purpose of this article is not to get us all caught up in the regret of what was or what could have been had we had done differently. Remember that everything that has happened to this point in life has played a perfect role in making you who you are today.
  • Use this article as an instigator or reminder for creating change in your life right now. No matter who you are or what your situation is, one thing is true about all of us: in this lifetime we are never going to be younger than we are right now in this moment. Therefore, there will never be a better time to change things than right now, so why not?
  • This list is not put together in order of importance or significance.

1) Just because your body can seemingly handle anything, doesn’t make it okay to eat anything that you want to. Fast foods, sugary snacks, frozen dinners and anything else of that nature that I happily consumed throughout my teenage years should not be a regular part of anyone’s diet. The fact that I consumed as much of it as I did and still am around today in a healthy state shows just how strong and resilient the human body can be. Now imagine how much stronger it would be if it never had to process those unhealthy choices in the first place. It’s not to say you can’t have them at all, but having them in moderation is probably your best bet.

2) The outside world is always more interesting than the video game one. As fun as many video games can be, they will never be more important than the outside world. There is an entire real universe to explore filled with real people to interact with, so why get so caught up in a created one? You can still play them, and I still do, but again moderation seems like the best approach.

3) Don’t take school so seriously. I know instinctively this tip may receive some really negative reactions but please hear me out and keep in mind that this tip is based on my experience and is included here because it is something I would like to tell my 13-year-old self. School can be a wonderful experience and an awesome opportunity to connect with so many other people in a fun environment of mutual learning. See school as just that, and not as a treacherous life and death environment where every grade, test and assignment plays a critical role in the life that you will live. Let’s be honest, aside from potentially the last 1-2 years of high school, there is little to no difference between barely passing and achieving straight A’s in grade school, either way you move on to the next step. Enjoy the school experience, put in some hard work for the sake of learning but don’t let it become the bane of your existence.

4) Tryout/ play for more sports teams and extracurricular groups. It wasn’t until my second last year of high school that I became comfortable enough with myself to tryout/ play for all of the extracurricular’s that I had interest in. Play and be a part of whatever interests you; the fear of being judged or made fun of is not worth holding yourself back. Badminton, ultimate frisbee and curling were an awesome world I’m glad I got to at least experience for 2 of my high school years.

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5) Don’t let your friends dictate your opinion of something/ someone. Make your own decisions! Just because another person came to conclude something doesn’t necessarily mean that it needs to be the conclusion for everyone else. Rather than simply accept public opinion, explore it for yourself. Even if it only leads you to agree with the original assessment, at least you got to figure it out first hand. So go talk to that cute girl! Just because someone else finds her annoying doesn’t mean that you will (Sorry, probably got a little too personal there haha)

6)  Before reacting to or creating drama, breathe! We play with overly dramatic situations all throughout life, but they always seem to come about that much more often throughout teenagehood. Rather than jumping on the opportunity to “start shit” take a second to breathe. It’s amazing what a really good deep breath can do, or in this case prevent you from doing. Let’s be honest, how much of the drama that we’ve been a part of has actually been warranted/ worth our time? Chances are if they made an episode about it on ‘Pretty Little Liars’ or ‘The O.C.’ it doesn’t really hold much substance.

7)  Enjoy and harness your natural beauty. This probably more naturally applies to females with the overwhelming pressures to wear make-up at earlier ages but I felt it really applied to me as a male as well. Not in regards to make-up but with hair care products. Whether it was to spike my hair, tame it down or to create a faux-hawk it felt like everyday I was putting more and more stuff in my hair. As amazing and fun as makeup and hair gels can be –especially for special occasions –to make them a part of your daily routine starting from such a young age can’t be healthy for your skin. We’re all beautiful, so let’s try and enjoy that as much as possible.

8) Be a leader. All new things in this world started with someone stepping outside of the box and deciding to create something different. Don’t be afraid to take the reigns on a new project/ idea. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end, the journey of trying to get there will more than likely be a heck of a lot more interesting than passively following someone else.

9) You will never have more time than you do right now. If the majority of us in the western world are blessed with one thing throughout our teenage years, it’s time. Rather than lofting in or accepting such regular states of boredom, seek fun and creative things to do with that time. We are never too young or old to make the best of some free time.

10) Life right now doesn’t suck as much as you think it does. Believe it or not, not having your driver’s license, not being the legal drinking age or not having a girlfriend/ boyfriend to fool around with are not viable reasons to conclude that life sucks. Life can suck just as easily even if you had all of those things and anything else you feel that you desire. Why? Because you aren’t finding peace in the now. Our minds are always going to want something more than what we currently have, so rather than getting caught up in the perpetual chase learn to love and live in this moment.

Be sure to add any of your own life lessons as a comment on this article, as well as if you agree or disagree with any of those that I mentioned. I look forward to reading your contributions!