In just two and a half short months, my teenage years will be over. I’ll no longer be allowed to vote in the Teen Choice Awards, which really bums me out, but I can tell you how excited I am to finally be able to call myself a 20-something. I hear your 20s are full of bills you can’t pay, awkward hook-ups, and existential crises every few months. I can’t wait to experience all this first-hand, instead of just reading about it (ahem) on the Internet.
But I’m also forever indebted to my teenage years. They taught me how to deal with mild rejection. They taught me how to shotgun a beer. They taught me how to deal with bullies, and how to stop being one.
Your teenage years are important. These are the years where you look your absolute worst, but progress to a state where you can accept what you find in the mirror. These are the years where you experience heartbreak and love for the first time, two motifs that are surely going to haunt you until you’re dead. You find out the kind of music you love, even if it is punk rock music that you can’t play at parties, and you find out the kind of people you love the most in the world.
Of course, though, I wish there were some things I knew before beginning this shit show of a decade. Things like…
1. Makeup is a privilege, not a right. Use it sparingly, or the beauty gods will curse you with awful pictures and bad skin. This is especially important with eyeliner. Less is always more. Please use less; you aren’t the lead singer of My Chemical Romance.
2. Friends will come and go. You’ll gain new ones, and you’ll lose old ones. This will seem like the end of the world. I promise you it’s not.
3. This thing called social network will become really popular. Please use it as a platform to be kind to people. And don’t ever, ever read the comments on YouTube videos. That is where dreams go to die.
4. Speaking of dreams, follow your own. You aren’t going to be a nurse like your older sister, and you sure as hell are not going to be a teacher. Do what you want to do.
5. Don’t cry over boys. There will come times where you’ll want to, but then you need to remember that this one boy, in this one town, will be so incredibly insignificant to you in a few years. I promise. Don’t cry. Move on.
6. Tell mom and dad you love them more often. Also, when mom tells you that you can’t do something, listen to her. It’s not worth arguing and getting grounded.
7. Smoking cigarettes does not make you cool. I realize you’re going to do it anyways, but just know that even though James Dean looked awesome with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth doesn’t mean you do. All cigarettes do is make you smell and taste bad. Avoid.
8. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good. A lot of your friends sadly will not fit this criteria. You don’t deserve to be made to feel bad by people who supposedly love you.
9. It’s okay to cancel plans. Sometimes you make these plans with every intention of fulfilling them, but when the day comes, you can’t muster the strength to do it. Don’t feel bad. You shouldn’t be forced into situations you don’t want to be a part of.
10. Be a good influence on your little sister. She’s one of the best people in the world, and even though you want to kill her 90 percent of the time, you’d die for her. You really would.
11. Tell your older sister how much you love her. Follow her example. She may seem overbearing, but she really does know what she’s talking about. And besides, she has cute clothes that you’ll want to borrow.
12. Don’t be embarrassed at how tall you are. A lot of boys will be shorter than you, but that isn’t your problem, and it doesn’t make you any less feminine. You aren’t a giant. You’re just a tall human being.
13. As lame as it sounds, be yourself. Don’t feel pressured to conform to what other people think are cool. You’ll never be cool if you do that.