Thought Catalog
January 22, 2014

18 Things We Should Have Been Taught As Teenagers

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What is the issue?

1. Hard work will not always equate to success. You can put up a good fight and still lose. There are just some things that, for whatever reason, we have to carry with us.

2. There will probably come a day when you want to study something that has (seemingly) no future benefit. Study it anyway. There will probably come a day when you want to be with someone who you know won’t last forever. Love them anyway. There will probably come a day when you want to leave something, or someone, and instead of looking for a reason, you should let that wanting be enough. Go anyway.

3. You shouldn’t ever assume to know the truth about someone. Addiction doesn’t always look like a drug-addled homeless person on the street, mental illness isn’t always apparent, pain does not always read across a person’s demeanor. Don’t judge people on the bits and pieces of them you can understand.

4. Your parents are people too. They are not here to serve your every want and need indefinitely. They may not understand your choices because they don’t understand that they created the physical you, not the actual you. Explain that to them. Let them process. They are allowed to not be okay sometimes too.

5. You will find that the biggest hurdle to overcome is the striking barrenness of normalcy. Most things in life aren’t as dramatized as we like to make them. And that’s okay. That doesn’t make them unwarranted. You aren’t failing, you aren’t lost, you aren’t struggling if things are just okay. Many days will float by just like that, and you have to learn to just comfortably be in them.

6. Drama does not just magically “find you.”

7. The people who are most loved and respected are usually the ones who show interest in others. True admiration does not stem from what kind of clothes someone wears, how much money their parents have, or what kind of car they drive. They are kind even though the same notion isn’t always reciprocated back to them. That is how people matter.

8. You don’t have to know who you are. The whole concept of figuring that out is futile. You will always be figuring things out as you go along, who you are will be an evolution. Don’t limit yourself by being attached to the things you defined yourself as at one point.

9. The whole world is a marketing ploy. It’s designed for you to “not feel good enough” so you keep buying into the crap that makes capitalism run. I’m not saying you should renounce modern culture, I’m saying you should be aware of the standards society imposes on your psyche, and you should know that who you are is not quantifiable and nobody has the right to tell you how to be. So don’t give it to them.

10. The thing about love is that you have to choose it. It’s hard to wrap your head around the concept of actively pursuing and cultivating love when you’re at the peak of puppy dog eyes and baby talk. But that will fade away, and at the end of the day, you have to keep choosing love. The people we love and the people we choose to be with are often not the same. There are reasons for this. You will know if someone loves you, and if you love them in return. You will know when you are each both consciously choosing something that will make you better. Don’t choose what’s convenient. Choose what matters.

11. If you find a way to interest yourself in whatever you’re learning, you will actually learn it. Teachers aren’t there to shove knowledge down your throat just so you can regurgitate back on a test. They want to see you engage with the subject matter, and try to take it a step beyond rote memory. They may be biased, because everyone thinks their own subject is best, but most of the time, their hearts are in the right place. Learn to love learning for the sake of it. It will change how you approach most things.

12. If you don’t learn to enjoy yourself now, you never will. You don’t grow up and stop struggling. Adulthood is not the answer. We have carved it out to be this intimidating, scary thing because we have so many expectations for what it should be, and what we should be. Let that go.

13. It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to be reckless. It’s okay to screw everything up entirely. Beating yourself up for that won’t help your case. You are allowed to not know. You are never at a juncture where it is required to have it all figured out. It’s the pressure to do so that usually trips you up.

14. When you try to convince people you are something, that’s when you are the least of that thing. Funny people don’t have to tell people they’re funny. They just are.

15. You are supposed to be confused. That is not some abstract concept you’ll need to learn to deal with. There will be many days — and many, many moments within those days — when you are genuinely lost and hurting and that is more than okay. That is the epitome of being a person. If you didn’t feel that way, it would be because nothing in your life matters, or you are incapable of feeling. Embrace the shit.

16. High school is not the best four years of your life. Neither is college. They are both awesome, but they are also challenging years. The people who believe they are the “best” are probably doing the “rest of their life” thing wrong.

17. Most people will forget about the person you were if you show them the person you are. So you evolve. So you change. That’s okay. Your peers will evolve, too. The person you were when school ended for the summer is not the person you need to be when it resumes again in the fall. The person you were in high school is not the person you will be at your 10 year reunion, nor should it be. And your old classmates may have a moment’s struggle with reconciling these two personas, but it does not mean your evolution was a bad thing.

18. Most people aren’t inherently bad. They’re just grappling with their own shit and possibly taking that out on you. People, for the most part, are more concerned with themselves than they are with you. If ever they feel the need to be mean, it’s only because they can either A) identify that part of you as something they too struggle with or B) because who you are threatens what they think of themselves to be. Be kind to them. You don’t win anything worth winning by superseding people. TC mark

image – Marielle Stobie

Like this post? Check out more of Brianna’s writing in The Truth About Everything here.

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