5 Things I’d Tell My 15-Year-Old Self (And Every Other Teenager)

Twenty20 / LinaVeresk
Twenty20 / LinaVeresk

1. Trying to look like everyone else will not make you beautiful.

That Kylie Jenner lip, Cara Delevingne brow or Nicki Minaj booty is not for everyone. What’s “in” doesn’t have to work for you. Living in a Southeast Asian country where a major fraction of the population of teenage girls below a US size 4, have ridiculously straight hair, and the most infinitesimal amounts of hair on their body, I was a misfit.

If you are of Indian descent or any part Indian like I am, you’d know the pains of hair in general. Curly/frizzy hair, facial hair, excessive body hair – we have it all. Well, unless you have the God-gifted perfect hair we all dream about (in which case, I detest you). My point is (yes I did have one with this little rant) that I spent too much time trying to fit in by finding ways to look like everyone else, even jumping on that dreadful fringe/bangs bandwagon which, let me tell you, did NOT work with impossible curls like mine. All my teenage years I had this vision of the perfect girl that I looked absolutely NOTHING like. Soon I realised that there is no “perfect girl” – we all have our own unique features that make us beautiful. I started taking care of my curls instead of combing them harshly, and got those nicely shaped thick eyebrows that is the envy of the sparse-browed Orientals (just a generalization – I am aware that many of them have thick brows too). Basically, as you grow older, you start to have a better idea of who you are. Which brings me to my next point:

2. There’s this thing called puberty.

Some of us go through it earlier in life and some later. But go through it we will. Most probably (I say this solely based on personal experience so don’t hunt me down if it doesn’t happen to you):

  • Your boobs will grow bigger
  • You’ll lose that horrible acne (trust me, I’m almost 20 and my acne has JUST started to diminish)
  • Your body develops its curves and your legs stop looking so awkward (or was that just me?)
  • Your features get accentuated and more pronounced

These are basically things I was extremely self-conscious about in my adolescent years. I was a late-bloomer (and am probably still somewhere in the latter part of that blooming process) and had painfully low confidence. Some days I wouldn’t dare to look in the mirror because my face and body repulsed me that much. But it got better.

3. Remember what’s important in life.

As you grow older you find that there are things more important than looks, popularity and grades. Sure, you’d think that people with that combination have it all, and they might, but you must know what matters the most to you. Also, at 20, your hands will most definitely be full dealing with your daily existential crisis (just me again?). University has been a trying time for me; it’s where I’ve learnt the importance of having the right friends and recognized the worth of sheer intelligence. The superficiality of certain relationships I had in the past started to weigh down on me and I realised that I had to let go of them because they were only dragging me down with them. So get rid of those toxic relationships and find people you can be 100% YOU with. No drama, no pretence. These are the people who will stick with you through the good and the bad. “Friends” that talk about themselves all the time and refuse to listen? Discard. They obviously do not care enough to know the real you, the not-so-pleasant parts, so what right do they have to be part of the impending joy?

4. Your parents are your biggest supporters.

This is a subjective one, because I know of people who haven’t had the best parents. But most times, your parents love you unconditionally and will always do things with your best interest in mind. We all go through our rebellious teenage years where you hate your mom for nagging and screaming at you all the damn time and you hate your dad for the way-too-early curfew he imposed on you. But remember the time you were sick and your mom stayed home all day and night to take care of you, feed you, and make sure you had your meds? Remember the time your dad went all the way across town after a long exhausting day at work to pick you up because it was late and you didn’t have a ride home? Remember when you achieved something small and insignificant but you could literally see the pride glistening in their eyes? Your parents are people who will unquestionably be there for you literally 24/7 – not your tons of friends or 2-month boyfriend or your pen-pal from Russia (this is still a thing I hear). So it doesn’t hurt to show them your appreciation once in a blue moon, even if it’s just having a little chat with them and asking about their day.

5. Take care of yourself.

It is common for teenagers to feel like they’re young and invincible, and this often leads to neglect. Not eating right, not eating much, not exercising, not sleeping enough – I am aware this sounds no different from your mother’s daily nag session, but boy is it accurate. All these things add up and begin to create a heap of problems for you in your later years. Also, did you know that eating healthy plays a significant part in clearing up acne? If you want toned legs and good body, exercising is the way to go. The results won’t show immediately, because it takes time for your body to grow into the curves, but you’ll look fit-tastic (I’ve always wanted to say that, forgive me)! Lastly, you may not have those dreaded eye-bags now, but trust me, YOU WILL. So get all the sleep while you can to keep those grey monsters away. But of course, eating, exercise and sleep are important for way more reasons than the aforementioned superficial ones (those were just incentives). To put it briefly – YOUR HEALTH. You won’t have many health problems now but if you continue to live unhealthily, there is a whole new world of health issues you will discover later in life. And it ain’t gonna be pretty. TC mark

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