Have a think about this
Comments 66

Dear Modern Day Teenagers of 2012

Dear Modern Day Teenagers of 2012,

Listen up. I made it through, and so will you. I have a few matters I’d like to discuss with you, but it is out of respect and compassion that I am bringing these matters to the surface. I will deliver this “tough love” with all the sincerity, understanding, and honesty I can muster. I will try to be gentle when I can, I will always be kind, but I will never lie to you. I am here because I was once one of you. I feel you. I get it.  I wish somebody on the outside had taken the time to sit down with me and explain some of these things to me. We have a few issues to discuss. Have a seat.

First of all, unclench. I’m not your principal, your guidance counselor, or either of your parents. I bet it feels like they are all pretty hard on you sometimes. I bet it feels like they are attempting to make your life as a teenager miserable, while sucking the fun out of everything that you feel teenagers are supposed to be doing. I’d also be willing to bet that those people are acting that way because they love you. They care about you. They want you to succeed.  No? You don’t believe me? Check this out. Those clothes you’re wearing, the lunch money you spent on that chicken patty in the cafeteria today, and the roof over your head didn’t just appear one day. Believe me; I thought I was SO above having my room clean and listening to my parent’s rules when I was your age also. Why make your bed in the morning, when you’re just going to mess it up again. Am I right? This was my casual mindset, until I moved into my own apartment and started paying rent. Self sustainability isn’t cheap, so unless you have an extra $1,200 in quarters sitting in your piggy bank, do yourself a favor. Go to a coin star. Complain less. Be grateful more.

Your skirt is too short. Yes it is. Yes it is! Look, we can go back and forth all day, but I’m doing you a favor. I come from the age of boy bands and girl groups. You’ll probably think I’m a dinosaur after I tell you this, but when I was your age, Christina was still a genie in a bottle, and I had just as many insecurities about not looking like Brittany Spears, as you do about not looking like Kim Kardashian. Here’s the thing though, Miss Kardashian is 31 years old (Sorry Kimmy, I know you’re not supposed to reveal a woman’s age, but it’s for the best). No matter how many parents around the world disapprove of Kim’s attire, or her decisions, she is an adult. You are NOT an adult, and the sooner you accept that, the easier your life will become.

Just a heads up, I don’t care what the legal age is, eighteen is NOT an adult. I’m 24, and being an adult is still something I’m working my way through. You have a long way to go. So do us all a favor, and pull down your skirt. I’m not asking you to wear a ball gown, but I’m also not asking to see your knickers. Your body is beautiful, and it looks the way it’s supposed to for the age you’re at. That means, take the chicken cutlets out of your bra, and put away the padded bootie spanx. I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and it looks as awkward as it feels. If you’re fifteen, enjoy looking like a fifteen year old.

Put your smart phone away, for like, two minutes. Go outside and get some fresh air. Climb a tree. Be creative. Paint something. Go for a bike ride. Volunteer. Make a bucket list. Have goals. Have a real conversation. Never mind the fact that when I was thirteen, I was still fascinated by The Guinness Book of World Records and actual books still had value. If it’s dinner time, don’t worry about that text from Johnny. Johnny will still be there after you eat. Trust me, as someone who has been through middle school, high school, college, and now lives on her own, real human interaction is important. Take a break from your iPad, your Nook, your iPhone, your Mac, your iPod, and any other mode of virtual reality and technology. Sit face to face with somebody, anybody, and ask how their day has been.

Whether you’re a teenage boy or a girl, kissing your best friend’s significant other doesn’t make you cool. Actually it makes you the opposite of cool. It makes you sneaky, hurtful, and more often than not, it makes you a liar. Even if you’re up front about it, let me just warn you that you’re probably going to lose a good friend in the process. It doesn’t matter how many times you say it wasn’t your fault, it doesn’t matter how often you tweet about being sorry, and it doesn’t matter how you try to spin it, it is an action that will never be forgotten.

Remember that time your friends told you that drinking alcohol was SO cool. I can tell you after being of legal drinking age for three years, it’s really not THAT cool. Sometimes it can actually make you feel pretty crumby, and truth be told, it’s not good for your body either. The legal age of twenty one wasn’t picked out of a hat, kids. The liver doesn’t fully develop until the age of twenty one. Also, on the whole issue of drugs, save your brain from the frying and just say no. If your friends make fun of you, I guarantee that when you become my age, you’ll look back and realize that they weren’t real friends. You’ll probably also be pretty happy that they aren’t still your friends, because a good amount of them will have already been to drug and alcohol counseling.

That boy that says he loves you and is pressuring you to go further physically than you’re comfortable with, or at ALL, does NOT love you. That boy who puts something in your punch at the school dance does NOT love you. That boy who tells you that you’d be prettier if you lost five pounds does NOT love you. That boy who hits you or calls you names does NOT love you. None of these things are symbols of love, or qualities that you want in a boyfriend. I’ve dated alcoholics, aggressive guys, and narcissists, and looking back at my younger years it is more than clear that none of them actually loved me. Focus on your studies, on your sports, on your friends. Focus on your future. It WILL pay off.

Lastly, dare to be different. Stick up for the kid who is getting picked on. Rock out on your electric guitar in front of the whole school at the talent show, if that’s your thing. Wear that outfit with the bright colors (as long as it’s age appropriate). Be the artist, the sculptor, or that kid who can do 20 back flips in a row and land in a perfect split. Doing what EVERYONE is doing isn’t going to get you very far in life. Take a look at Gandhi, Madonna, Elizabeth Gilbert, Suzanne Collins, JK Rowling, Steve Jobs, and Martin Luther King Jr. What do all of those people have in common? They did something different. They protested peacefully, danced their hearts out, wrote about the unknown, shared their experiences, started revolutions, and stood firm in their beliefs. At one point, they were also teenagers.

Believe it or not, we ALL were.

Sincerely,
Carley of Findingravity
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66 Comments

  1. Great post! Even though I am no longer a teenager I found it very inspiring. No matter what age you are it is often difficult to be yourself xx

  2. You know, I wish I had someone your age telling me this stuff when I was my kids’ ages. And now that I typed that out, I realize I did have that and I didn’t listen to her. Well, I listened to her, I just didn’t follow her advice, and I am still reaping the consequences. *sigh* Oh, well. It makes for fun conversations with my teens about why they need to establish and maintain boundaries. 😉

    • It’s funny because I wouldn’t have listened to my mom either. Maybe having someone on the outside who is marginally closer in age will translate better? Or maybe I’m just talking to the universe. Either way, I’ve worked in a lot of schools teacher and coaching, and these are just a few of my thoughts. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  3. Carley is it? Thanks. Seriously, can I reblog this? I’m an awkward 15-year old myself looking for my nook in the world and this post hit me hard. Lots of kids my age, my peers, classmates and friends don’t get it, this idea of “acting their age” but some do. I think I’m one of them. Thanks again 🙂

    • Hi Sydney! (I’m assuming your name is Sydney…you might just really like Australia, correct me if I’m wrong) Of COURSE you can reblog this! And you’re 15 and you have a blog!? HUGE HIGH FIVE! I love when teenagers blog. It’s always great to see teenagers taking advantage of healthy self expression. You go girlfriend!

  4. My sister and I were just having a conversation about this not too long ago, but unfortunately, it was more towards 10 year olds (junior high age) I agree completely, and hope to raise my kids the way that I was raised in the way of morals and manners. Great post!

    • Wish I had been a part of this conversation! As you can see, I have a lot of strong opinions about the matter. Hopefully I didn’t come off as abrasive in any way. It’s a scary world out there for junior high/high school students.

  5. The paragraph that starts “Put your smart phone away, for like, two minutes,” is someone the whole world should read. Not just teenagers. Your whole message is awesome. I love it!

  6. Emma Semple says

    I’m 19, so still technically a teenager. I’m also a mom, I have been drunk 4 times in my life and regretted every single time, I’ve never done drugs but I have had an idiotic boyfriend who made me do things I didn’t want to and made me feel like the worst person on earth. I see things on facebook posted by 15 year olds like “when I was little, I wanted to grow up, I did not expect this” They need to read this, because they honestly don’t know what it’s like to be a ‘grown-up’ until they have to worry about taking care of someone 24/7, have to worry about having enough money to pay for things they need and living so far away from their parents that they miss them. It makes me sad to think my daughter could end up a girl like that! I hope I can teach her the really important things in life.

    • Well it sounds like you are very wise, you’ve learned a lot in your life, and it sounds like you’ll be able to translate those lessons to your daughter some day! Just keep an open line of communication and trust! I’m glad you are so passionate about your hopes for your daughter 🙂 Thank you for reading xoxo

  7. Danthonia says

    Oh Carly, I am so in awe of you. That is such a brilliant piece. You have captured the words I have been trying to say for so long to a range of teens I know. Keep it up, mate. 🙂

    • Thank you! I’ve been a coach and a teenager, and I’ve witnessed my fair share of teenagers trying to act and appear older than they are. Everybody just needs to slow their roll.

  8. Thank you for posting this 🙂 I’m a 16-year-old, and while I’m not your average teen, I can really relate to this 🙂 Lately, I’ve felt pressured to conform, to not be myself anymore. You helped me to realize that showing off my ‘assets’ and being a typical teenager is not the way to go, and not what I should do 🙂 I shouldn’t have to look like a supermodel, or dress like Christina Aguilera to get people to like me, or to fit in 🙂 I should just be me 🙂 And, what’s the big deal about fitting in? Being different is so much better than being normal! My parents are wiser than I think 🙂 Thank you for showing me that 🙂

    • Suzanne says

      It reminds me of the song “Stupid Girl” by Pink is it?
      “If I flip my blonde hair like that and push up my bra like” this, etc., etc.
      The sad thing is that the media gives our kids mixed messages; they are asking teens to grow up way too fast and it is for the sake of capitalism i.e. they want teens to spend money on looking and acting “grown-up”. I tell my kids that you cannot go back in time and be a kid again but you have from 20 to 80 to be an adult; do not cut short the only childhood you will ever have; enjoy being a teen — it’s the last time to be a big kid: savor every minute of it.

    • Always, always, ALWAYS be yourself, Lauren! It troubles me to think that fitting in and being a “typical” teenager means that you are expected to look like a supermodel.. You can still fit in while keeping your self esteem, and integrity intact ! Thank you for reading, I’m glad you found my blog.

    • So glad you agree. Being a teenager in 2012 frightens me a little bit, I’m glad that I’m well out of my teenage years.

      • Me too! I’ve got ten years on you and things were sooo much different when I was in my teen years. It is scary.

  9. heroldsroses says

    I want my 3 girls to grow up to be just like you!!! Your parents should be so proud!!! You Rock!! Truly!!

  10. Kreative Dragon says

    obvoisly I was never a teenager… because one of this resonates with me at all 😛

      • Kreative Dragon says

        HAHA!!! I haven’t worn a skirt since second grade for a play, and it was… a skort? is that what they’re called when it’s like shorts also?
        And i have yet to kiss anybody.
        And WHY would you do that? Why would you tangle yourself up in that web? It’s goofy.

  11. Brilliant post, and unfortunately so true! It’s strange and sad to see how a new generation can be so different from the previous one. And here I was thinking I was bad as a teen… But back then we sure as hell didn’t wear super-filled ultra push-up bra’s, let alone “lip reading” skirts!

  12. I enjoyed reading your post, although I am a year past my teenage and quite thankfully, I have not had to deal with half the things you speak of. 🙂

    • I’m actually four years out of my teenage years, and thankfully I also didn’t have to deal with a lot of the things I speak of. Teenagers today are faced with dangerous circumstances, it’s so tragic. So many young girls feel like they have supermodel status’ to live up to, and rather than enjoying being a kid, they are trying to grow up way too fast.

      • Haha… True!
        Here in the land of Gandhi and peace struggles, every girl grows up with the hopes of turning into an Aishwarya Rai or a Katrina Kaif. But sadly, its not just about aping their behaviour or matching their physique, it is this sick perversion of trying to attain a lighter skin tone. And it does not stop with teenage. The extent and expense to which people are willing to go for a ‘fairer skin’ is disturbing. I wrote about it here ~ http://annajohn18.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/beauty-an-elusive-concept/

  13. YESSSS. THANK YOU FOR DARING TO WRITE THIS POST. I RECENTLY WROTE A LETTER TO MY 16-YEAR-OLD SELF ON MY BLOG, BUT I LIKE YOUR POST MUCH MORE. I USED TO TEACH IN A PRIVATE HIGH SCHOOL WHERE MY STUDENTS WERE 16 (GOING ON 21). YOU SAID EVERYTHING I WANTED TO SAY TO THEM. KEEP WRITING, KEEP BEING HONEST. 🙂

    • YOU ARE SO VERY WELCOME!!! 🙂 Love your enthusiasm! I taught in a high school as well, and I was constantly saying to myself, “Oyyy vey!” While simultaneously putting my hand to my forehead in total disbelief.

  14. Reblogged this on SydneyJoTo and commented:
    Meet Carley, if you haven’t yet already. I just wanna tell her thanks for getting it, when so many adults don’t. So thanks Carley!

    • Thank YOU for sharing the love! I TOTALLY get it. Being a teenager isn’t easy, but it DOES get easier. Stay true to you, Sydney. It sounds like you’re already a step ahead. xo

  15. aix says

    This is awesome and I like how you put a lot of things down frankly. “Put your smart phone away, for like, two minutes. Go outside and get some fresh air. Climb a tree. Be creative. Paint something. Go for a bike ride. Volunteer. Make a bucket list. Have goals. Have a real conversation.” Lol my phone used to be one of my body organs. Now that I’ve learned to detach myself from it, I have more time to REALLY enjoy and actually BE PART OF the experiences and personal exchanges I go through. I hope a lot of teens get to read this. 🙂

    • Haha! Well music is really a choice that I’m okay with, as long as it’s not forced upon me…What someone chooses to jam to is their own prerogative. I was more touching on life choices. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.

  16. Tiff says

    Must be easy to be self righteous and all mighty at 24. Give me a break, you’re writing is not only pompous and self fulfilling but absolute bullshit. Your blog could have been taken from the 1800’s or from the nuns of the 50’s. You have written nothing that every previous generation has said to the next. It is what your parents said to you and your grandparents said to them. How about an original idea?

    • Disclosure: I struggled for a moment or two figuring out whether or not I wanted to leave this comment up, or delete it. However, I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and has a right to share it. Firstly, I’m not sure if this person knows me or not. I do not know a “Tiff”, but I suppose “Tiff” is better than “Anonymous,” right?

      So, Tiff, if you’re reading, I feel that your comment is more self fulfilling than this particular blog post. I truly believe that you left this comment to hurt my feelings, which is completely fine. That’s just how some people operate. I understand that I may have some strong opinions, but I do my best to be sure that I am never alienating or stigmatizing individuals. I think there are kind and respectful ways to disagree with people, and you might just not be a kind, respectful person.

      I wrote this because I am a teacher, a coach, and I spend a great deal of time around teenagers in both professions. You’re 100% correct in that these thoughts have, in one way or another, been passed down from generation to generation. Albeit, I’d be pretty impressed if my grandparents told my parents to put their iPods away. That would have been some pretty remarkable extra sensory perception. I even express openly that I did not listen to my parents when they told me these things. My only hope was that a few struggling teens might stumble upon this, and feel at ease knowing that they are not alone, and that it gets better. That they don’t need to dress or act like adults to be accepted. That they don’t have to be treated poorly to feel loved.

      There are many issues I feel that need to be readdressed in society. Sexual assault has been addressed and readdressed by generation upon generation, so has bigotry, and bullying. Young women today are living in a society where they feel they are trying to attain unreachable standards. If I can help just one or two people, then I have done what I came to do.

      PS, my email is in the contact section above. I would love to read some of your writing some time. Have at it, mate.

      • Nate Walters says

        Carley, long time. Looks like your doing well. I must say to fully experience life we have to make mistakes to find ourselves.

      • Hey Nate! Thank you so much for reading! 🙂 I totally agree, and I wrote this with that in mind. Like I said in my post, I’ve dated alcoholics, aggressive guys, and narcissists. It took a while for me to realize that they were all equally toxic. You definitely live and learn.

        I’m so glad you stopped by! Come again soon! xo

  17. Great post. For 9-teen year old me who takes all things and even people, seriously! As what I also read in a teen magazine and read on your post, “rock what you have got” as it would definitely squeeze out the very best of every teen, and teens at heart 😀 I learned that one should never rush into things, and just really focus on one thing: STUDIES. I realized that one day, all of what I am doing will have a greater effect on my life. Thanks for being a part! 🙂

    • Me too! Thank you for stopping by! It’s so nice to see that even after someone leaves a negative comment, people are still reacting positively to this post. Come again soon! 🙂

  18. Regan says

    It’s so funny growing up in the same area, going to the same university and I could not agree with you more! There’s not a lot I regret about my past bc boy did I learn from every mistake I made. (ouch) I remember hearing from my cousins, oh they’ll be others! (boys), my mother saying, please save your money! (i’d be rich by now if i hadn’t spent it on partying) my father (practice more volleyball!) We get told this stuff and it goes in one ear and out the other at that age, or maybe just with me. It’s so fun to look back and just laugh! I just love your writing, it really keeps the reader tuned in! I’ve been sharing your posts with the women I work with, we just love it!

    • Thank you Regan! That’s so lovely of you! I really do reflect back on my high school and college experiences and go…WOW, WHO let me wear that!? WHO let me date him? WHO told me being friends with that person would benefit me in any way? It’s inspiring to look over the comments and see that a few teens have stumbled across my little corner of the blogosphere and found themselves able to connect. I think we are living proof that while challenges still arise, learning how to make good decisions that will positively influence our lives DOES get easier as time goes on.

      I’m so glad you’ve been reading, laughing, and I’m sure occasionally sighing along with me! 🙂 xo

  19. Tebogo radikeledi says

    That truly showed me the light i was once introduced to ciggarette by someone who was my close friend but older than me and even to this very day i still smoke which is the thing i will regret for the rest of my life though i am focused on my studies .I pray god that one day he’d help me quit.I can spent a day without a smoke but once i have money i smoke again

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