31 March 2011

10 Things I've Learned in My Teens P.1

Before we get started, here are a bunch of pics of me as a wee teenager:
In Venice, during a month long vacation that started immediately after my last day of middle school. Age: 14
 About to leave for the winter dance in freshman year- my friend nicole and I didn't know that all dances besides homecoming and prom weren't cool yet. If I remember right, we arrived, danced to one song, and then went to starbucks and hung out with some random boys that were there. Age: 14
 Going to Bull Pen for Easter is a tradition in my family. I think we are going again this year! Age: 14
My first (of three) proms- I went with what I'd consider to be my high school sweetheart, even though I dated 4 other boys in high school (one of them stewie!). I dated this guy for the longest time while actually in high school though, so he wins the title. he was a junior and I was a sophomore, which was how I got to go to prom. Age: 15
 At the river in the Mendo Woodlands during the youth retreat, summer after sophomore year. Age: 16
 16th birthday I think?
 Me being my UBERCOOL self, dressing up with some friends to go TPing. Age: 17
All dressed up for the pirates vs. ninjas party summer 09. Age: 18

In less than a month and a half, I will be turning the ripe old age of 20. 20 itself doesn't seem like a huge step, but when you think about it it really is. I will be saying goodbye to my teenage self- and those teenage years were a doozy! I feel like as a child you are growing into a person, and as a teenager you are growing into yourself, if that makes sense. So many decisions are made as a teenager- what you like, what you don't like, what you want out of life, what you're afraid of, what is most important to you, who you are. Not that anyone has all the answers coming out of being a teenager, but I'd definitely say we're all a bit wiser for the wear.

20 is also the beginning of what's bound to be a crazy important decade. Sure, I'll turn 21, but that's not even the start of it. In my 20s I will get my bachelors and possibly even a masters degree. I will start a career. I will move places, maybe even a few. I might get married and I might even have a child. Eek! I'm not saying that will definitely happen in my 20s, but it sure does for a lot of people.

So in honor of the end of one very exciting, crazy, amusing, hormone-saturated decade and the beginning of a hopefully equally fun but a little less angsty one, I've constructed a list of 10 things that I have learned in my teens. They might not be the same things you got out of your teenage years, and you might not even agree with them, but for me they have proven to be extremely useful bits of knowledge that help me to live a life full of love, happiness, freedom, and fulfillment. If you've got anything that you learned in your teens that isn't on my list, feel free to leave a comment- I'd love to read about it! Also, if you decide to make a post like this, put the link in the comments so I can check it out!

1. Don't Change Yourself for Anyone. There are always going to be people- possibly friends, family, a boyfriend- who will want you to fit an image that they have of you, or an image of what they would like you to be. Maybe they won't even be pushing this image on you, but you will feel like you should act/talk/dress/think differently in order to make them happy. Don't! I was an actress in high school and sometimes I felt like I was constantly on stage, just switching masks for whoever I was with. Some of my friends were really girly and straight-edge, so I found myself acting more feminine around them. Other friends were more counterculture, so when I was around them so was I. And then there were the boyfriends. There were a few times I went to church (even though I'm not a christian), partly because my friends were going and I wanted to, but also partly because I thought it would appease a boy that I liked. In retrospect, this all seems so stupid! I should have just been me, instead of tailoring myself to fit each person I was with- because really, what's the point of being friends with someone when they're not actually friends with the real you? Be yourself- ALL of yourself. You will be so much happier letting yourself be free than you would be if you cage up the bits of you that you don't think fit. As the saying goes, those who matter won't mind, and those that mind don't matter. 

2. Your Body is a Temple. I know this is a very cliche saying, but it's so, so true. Your body should be your most prized possession. You can ruin your car, your home, your stuff- but you will still survive. If you ruin your body, you probably won't. Not to mention, this is the only body you get! Like it or not, you are stuck with it for the rest of your life. It's pretty darn important, isn't it? Which is why you should treat it as if it's that important. Eat wholesome, nutritious food- preferably stuff that doesn't come wrapped in plastic or cardboard. If an ingredient listed on a package sounds more like it came from your chemistry textbook than from a farm, it probably isn't very good for your body. Develop a fitness routine and stick with it! Not only will it help you stay strong, slim, and healthy, it will keep your heart in healthy working condition and probably lead to a longer, livelier overall life. If you start eating healthy food regularly, you will start to realize that the saying "you are what you eat" really is true. Fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, and whole grains make you feel full of energy, happy, and full. Crappy food like preservative-rich "dinner" mixes/starters, fatty chips, candy, and -at least for me- dairy and meat make you feel sluggish, achy, tired, and grumpy. Think of your body as a machine that is detrimental to your survival- maintain it so that it can work efficiently by exercising, and give it only the best, most nourishing fuel. Give your body the love and attention it deserves!

3. People Think About You Far Less Than You Think They Do. In my junior year, there was a girl who hated me for no discernible reason other than an ex-friend of mine had told her I'd said some things about her (which for the record, I absolutely did not). Anyways, one day the girl confronted me in an effort to "bitch me out" (as was the phrase used in high school) and force me to confess. She accused me of thinking she was a slut, and I found myself saying, "[girl's name], I have way more important things to do and think about in my day than to worry about whether or not you're a slut." which was probably a little rude, but it was true- I didn't think about that girl at all, whether in positive or negative terms, but she was so worked up thinking that I did! Some people (myself included at times) spend so much time thinking about what other people are thinking. You walk into a room and people look at you and you find yourself wondering to yourself, "do they like my outfit? do they not like it? were they just talking about me? blah blah blah blah blah". You're walking down the street and you trip and you wonder if anyone saw you. You say something in class and you wonder if the other students are judging you for it. You put on something to wear in the morning in hopes that other people will be impressed. It's all so tiresome and pointless! Especially when the fact is, everyone else is probably NOT thinking about you, they're probably too busy second-guessing themselves and wondering what YOU are thinking of THEM. Sure, there are one or two sad souls out there who get their kicks from judging people and talking about them behind their backs, but they're not worth the time of day. I don't spend very much time thinking about what other people are doing/saying/wearing, so I figure everyone else is probably not too concerned about what I'm doing/saying/wearing. So why worry about it? Think about yourself, and let everyone else do the worrying.

4. Life is the Most Important Thing. More important than school. More important than jobs. More important than money, pretty things, essays, dentist appointments. In my opinion, the purpose of life is to live it. Enjoy it. Not to go to school, get a degree, get a job, become a decent and successful member of society before you die. Where's the fun in that? I'm not saying you shouldn't do those things- I definitely wanted to do well in highschool and now I want to do well in college and become successful- just don't let those things stand in the way of the joy of life. It's ok to play hookie every once in a while in order to take advantage of a beautiful day. It's ok to take a year off of school and work and just backpack around, living off of cash you make doing odd jobs. Nothing should stand in the way of you living your life. You might only get one shot at this thing, so don't do something you hate because you feel like you have to, and don't give up something you really want because you feel like you can't have it. In my life, I try to only do things that will make me happy. Sometimes I do things that aren't fun and I don't enjoy, but I do them because I know the end result will make me happy. I don't always want to go to class, but I know at the end of 4 years I'll have a degree. I don't like going to the dentist, but I sure like having clean, pain-free teeth. Just remember that everything you do should be something you WANT to do, for one reason or another, not just something you think you HAVE to do.

5. Everything is Constantly Changing. So don't try to hold on to the present. People change, a lot. You've changed. The earth changes. You don't get to press pause and keep things the way they are, and you don't get to turn back time and try to get it back. You just get to float along and enjoy they good things that come at you and work through the bad. I've gained a lot of friends over my life, and I've lost a whole lot too- most of the time not through any action or fight or anything, just because life moved on and we drifted apart one way or another. It's just the way things are. On the upside, you can always be confident that no matter how terrible things seem to be, they are guaranteed to change, and most likely get better. There is always something new and wonderful lurking around the corner, you just have to let life take you there. Don't get stuck, let yourself go and make peace with the fact that nothing can stay the same for too long. Change is inevitable, and it's not always as scary as we think it is.

I'll have part 2 of my 10 things I've learned in my teens list up in the next few weeks. Enjoy your weekend!

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