Things I Wish My Teen Self Knew

I just turned twenty! That’s mind-boggling to me. I’m so set in my teenage identity still that to even consider myself in my twenties is--and I have no idea how else to put this--wack. I’m nowhere near ready to be an actual adult yet. But time keeps going and I just gotta accept it.

Like so many people, my teenage years have significantly helped to define who I am now. So if I were to tell myself seven years earlier exactly what was in store, and exactly what I would do if I could do it over again, what would I say?

  1. Things are going to feel like the end of the world, but they aren’t. That thing you think is going to destroy your life? You’ll laugh about it in a year. That person who put you down? You’re going to think they’re insignificant within a few months. That test you horrendously failed? You’re still gonna get into and go to college. I’m not saying don’t crawl into Mom and Dad’s bed and cry, because that’s good therapy in the moment, but you’re going to look back on 90% of the things that devastated you and think, “It wasn’t that big a deal.” Take a deep breath or a bath or something, you’re gonna be fine.

  2. So much music and so many movies are going to change your life. Stand By Me, which you’ll first watch when you’re nearly seventeen, while introduce you to River Phoenix, who will alter your life more significantly than any living person you’ve met to that point. Walkabout, in addition to making you cry, will make you ponder the nature of the universe, which you will have never really done before. Call Me By Your Name will teach you what love really means. Over the Edge will connect you with your crappy hometown. And the music will leave such a profound mark on you that you will barely remember how you were before you first listened to any of it, and the concept of key-changing actual songs will change every single thing about you. “Lazy Eye” by the Silversun Pickups, “Stay” by The Blue Nile, “Age of Consent” by New Order, “Sleep” by Azure Ray, “Walkabout” by Atlas Sound, “Even When It’s a Lie” by Matt Maltese, “Runnin Through My Mind” by Gap Girls, “Nova Scotia 500” by boyscott, “Only Friend” by Wallows, and “We’re Not Just Friends” by Parks, Squares, and Alleys will shake you so deeply to your core that you won’t know what hit you. (And don’t worry, you’ll discover more musicians besides straight white guys.)

  3. Therapy is not a bad thing. Swallow your damn pride, admit you can’t solve all your problems by yourself, and go talk to someone, even if it’s just your high school counselor. Repression is not good for you because your anxieties manifest due to you overthinking everything into oblivion. This is who you are and you can’t change that, but you can change how you handle it. Talk them out with a professional. You can talk them out with your friends too, just pick what you say to whom wisely. This also goes for your acne issue!! Don’t wait to go to a derm, dermmit!

  4. Your braces are going to take nearly three years to come off, not two. Sorry. I know it sucks while it’s happening, but your teeth are going to look INFINITELY better once they come off. 

  5. People are fickle. You are a complicated individual, and sometimes people don’t like complicated things. Sometimes people are going to write you off because they don’t want to accept that you’re not one-dimesional, and they don’t care enough about you to put in the effort. That’s not a you problem, that’s a them problem. You keep growing and being yourself. Amazing people are going to show up in your life and stay there, so don’t worry. (Everyone’s who mean to you is going to [have] peak[ed] in high school, by the way. I don’t know how that works, but that’s how that works.)

  6. You’re going to come up with an amazing nickname for your sister. It’s going to be weird but it’s going to stick so well that you will rarely say her real name anymore. Soon everyone will be calling her that until she, in her preteen-ness, insists that the world stops doing it because she wants to be “hot, not cute”. But you’re still going to call her it years on. I still do. It shows you’re still going to be close with her!

  7. You’re gonna find out that Borderlands 2 is one of the best video games of all time. Dad won’t let you play it until you’re fifteen, but it’s gonna eat up so much of your time. Every minute’s worth it though, except for the stupid Lair of Infinite Agony in the Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep DLC. I STILL despise that area.

  8. You’re going to develop a pollen allergy that will give you multiple sinus infections. I HATE THE CONCEPT TOO.

  9. Dad’s holiday letters are only going to get better, because you’ll actually understand the jokes. Those letters are the biggest blessing of the year, honestly.

  10. Life is good and you are worth it. It is. Bad things happen sometimes but there is cake and sunsets and love and music and friends and family and pasta and Gibbet Hill and MSSA and the Pynes and blue skies and Rein’s Deli and too many beautiful places and things and people to count, and that includes you as one of those beautiful people. You’re not repulsive and you’re not annoying. Like I said earlier, you’re gonna be okay.