I thought I had my whole life figured out at the age of 13- I was going to be in a band, start touring the world, and Brendon Urie was going to marry me. I’m nearly 22, on the verge of graduating college, and while I still dream of being in a band, I’ve learned so much about life over the past decade, that it’s insane. Whether you are 11 or 27, these lessons could be useful to you as you continue to experience life. Every topic in this post is something I wish I had known when I was 15.
#1 Your best friends will change, and you will too.
It’s not an unknown concept, but the people you cannot imagine a life without will change in time, and may not be by your side a few years down the road. The people that I was convinced I’d stay friends with forever, haven’t been in my life for years. Most of these separations are on good terms, and we simply just drifted apart as life went on. If you manage to stay close with anyone through all of these changes, you have something really special and should never take it for granted.
I still have great memories of when I was 13 and we were all figuring life out- it’s like this dreamy, nostalgic time when sleepovers weren’t good unless you stayed up until 5 am, and birthday parties consisted of “never have I ever” games and figuring out who your friends liked. I have all these memories tucked away in a scrapbook that I open every once in a while, but the people I was friends with in that book, are not the same people I graduated with; we had lost that magic by then.
#2 The only limitations you face, are the ones you make yourself.
A lot of people feel pressured by family, friends, society, or themselves, to accomplish certain things within a set amount of time. These expectations place theoretical limitations around our lives based on what we think we are supposed to be doing, rather than what we want to be doing.
This pressure can generate a lot of unnecessary stress; thinking life is going to end if you graduate college or high school without a job, relationship, or accomplishing your dreams, are just a few examples. I used to think it would be the end of the world if I graduated high school without a band and would be forced to go to college- now when I look back, I realize how young 17 really is, and how you still have plenty of time to make your dreams happen long after your 20’s.
#3 Experiment with your sexuality fearlessly to be happy.
Most of us have grown up in societies that generally look down on LGBTQ+ individuals, and are instead, harnessed by the crippling presence of binaries and societal norms. When heterosexuality is championed and most mainstream music and film depicts these norms, many of us have little room to experiment with our sexuality and may feel ‘naturally’ opposed- which is real damn shame.
Whether you know your sexuality from an early age or it is something you grow into later in life, allowing yourself to be comfortable in your skin and discover who you really are is essential to being happy with yourself. If you’ve never felt right with someone of the opposite sex, it’s likely a sign you may need to think beyond traditional relationships. Find someone you really care about and see if things change; odds are, you will feel much more comfortable in comparison to previous relationships where nothing ever felt right. It’s important to give yourself time to learn about what you like and want in a relationship, and who you want to share these experiences with. As time goes on, you’ll realize who you’re attracted to, and it may be the last person you’d expect. Living a life of suppressing who you are is no way to live, and sometimes we need to be taken out of our shells to truly find happiness.
#4 You don’t have to agree or accept your parents views.
All families have their problems, many of which stem from differences. Your parents, although meaning well, are also human and are therefore guilty of not being perfect. Often times, this results in their opinions being forced onto you as if they are facts and the only ‘right’ way to do things. Whether it’s about same-sex relationships, religious differences, career choices, or body modifications, this can have huge implications on your freedom while living with them.
The important thing to remember, is that you do not have to accept these views. Even though they are your parents, you are not required to adjust your view points based on theirs. If they were strangers, what would you do? Disregard, and carry on with your business! Yes, it’s unfair. Why should you have to conform, when you are, in fact, your own person? You’ll learn it’s all about compromising. If both sides want to keep the peace, conversations about your differences will be rarely brought up. Once you go to college or move out, you’ll have all the freedom you want!
#5 It’s okay to NOT know what you want to do with your life!
The general consensus amongst my friends, is that most of us do not know what we want to do with our lives once we graduate. Regardless of the degree, most of us are directionless and lack a sense of belonging. It’s important to recognize you are not the only one who is unsure, and that you will be okay in the end. We all make our own paths, and it may take many years after you graduate to find that one thing you really love; it could even take your entire life to find it.
This is totally okay; you do not need a structured plan to make your entire life successful. Even the most thought out plans will change, because nothing in life is perfect. In the end, it’s important to not hold yourself to a set of unchanging expectations about your future- having flexibility will save you many headaches and will allow you to discover opportunity far beyond what you may have initially imagined, especially when plans do not work out.
#6 When someone is pushing you away, don’t keep trying to bring them back into your life.
One mistake an old friend and I made, was trying to keep one of our best friends close; after countless attempts at reaching out, which were always met with excuses or were avoided entirely, we finally realized what was happening and stopped calling.
It’s important to realize when someone doesn’t want you in their life anymore, and to respect that decision. For whatever the reason may be, continually trying to hold onto them because of your past together, rather than face the facts in the present, will not save what is left of your deteriorating relationship. Letting it go is the best thing you can do, because holding onto the hope that things might change and be like they used to be isn’t going to change how you or someone else feels about one another currently.
#7 Never feel less than because of someone else.
Self confidence is one of those fleeting things, that comes and goes, and sometimes, never returns. Whether you’re at school, work, or home, something that really needs to be said to never let anyone belittle you because of your age, gender, where you come from or who you are. Know your self worth and never forget it.
People will try and take advantage, or prey on you when it comes to insecurities and making innocent people suffer. This won’t always happen, but it can, and you need to be prepared. Never let the people staring you down as if you’re worthless bother you; stare right back. Never let your boss, whether you’re working at Pizza Hut or The New York Times, belittle, embarrass, or humiliate you- call them out. Never put up with crap thrown your way, by people who are rude, disrespectful, or malicious. Hold your head high, and know you are the bigger person. Don’t put up for less than what you deserve, and demand it. Leave situations, people, and jobs that do not treat you like a human being and an equal, because you deserve so much better. Being 12 or 81 does not entitle anyone to treat you as greater or less than, because good people deserve respect.
#8 Never lose sight of your dreams.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be a ‘rockstar.’ I play guitar, and have written dozens of songs, but live in an area with more cows than people. You can see the problem- and believe me, I have tried every outlet to make this happen. But despite my failures, over a decade later, I still make music and still want to be a musician. It might seem insane, because I didn’t go to music school, I’ve had very minimal luck, and I’m almost done with college.
But the important lesson I’m getting at, is that if you really feel like you have a purpose in life, and have a dream that means as much to you as being a musician means to me, regardless of how much time passes, what your circumstances are, and how hard you try but fail, if it really means something to you, you will never lose that desire. Even if you never get to follow through on those dreams, continue doing what makes you happy- making music, dancing, art, or writing. Never lose those dreams!
#9 Learn to remove toxic relationships from your life.
Whether it’s family, friends, or a lover, once the relationship becomes toxic, you need to learn to let go. Toxic relationships are bitter cycles; mental, physical or emotional abuse is used repetitively to corrode confidence and place blame on the victim. Escaping these relationships is often difficult, because you believe the abuser, and believe you are not good enough to leave, that no one else will love or accept you.
In reality, remember you are so much better than this, and the best thing you can do is leave them. Gain the courage to get out, and cut these ties from your life. Allowing abuse because it’s family or someone you really care about is not okay. If these people really loved you, they would not be treating you as poorly as they are. It’s difficult, especially with family, but realizing things will never change and leaving is in the best interest of your safety, things will get better and you can move on.
#10 Don’t compare your life to the lives of others.
Comparing your life to the lives of others is a useless way to place value on yourself, your talents, and your happiness. There will always be people in this world who are better or worse off than you are, but constantly comparing yourself to others will lead to a lifetime of misery and inadequacy- it’s important to not get caught up in the seemingly glamorous lives of others around you.
Be happy for people and their successes, but use your energy and time to primarily focus on yourself, your talents, and your life. You are never going to be them, and they are never going to be you- what is really important is how happy you are with yourself and your life. If you feel attractive, are proud of your talents, and have plans to do things that make you happy, such as traveling or buying a new car, do not let your happiness become overshadowed by checking your Instagram feed. Being happy isn’t a competition, and neither should living. Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments, along with those of others, but live your life independently of the lives of others.
#11 Virginity isn’t that important- do what you want, not what others want.
Virginity is like the dark ages come to life in our everyday society; we’re held to this absurd notion that we must remain virgins until we find “the one,” but are also held to the notion that we must have sex to avoid being a prude- oh joy, the contradictions of the real world.
Despite various differences in how genders perceive sex and virginity (I’m sure you’re all familiar with the double standards towards both), do what you are comfortable with. If staying a virgin until you find that someone special is what makes you tick, wait for it. At the same time, if having a lot of sex is what makes you happy, go for it. People are always judgmental, and they are always judging. But the important thing to remember, is that their judgements do not fucking matter at all in your life. If you’re a boy who wants to wait, or likes a lot of sex, or a girl who likes a lot of sex, or no sex at all, make sure your actions and decisions reflect what you are comfortable with, not what is socially expected, ‘acceptable,’ or told to you by someone else.
#12 You will not learn anything worthwhile in health class- use Google!
The education system of America is a constant joke, especially when a lot of teenagers never learn how the vagina works, how to pay taxes, or who Anne Frank was. Health class is the epitome of this useless and disappointing structure- and I wish I could’ve answered all my questions before I went into high school to avoid years of wondering if my body was normal.
Discharge is a thing, and it’s your vagina cleaning itself out which is normal. You can get pregnant during your period if you have sex, and the ‘pouch’ on your tummy is your uterus, because anatomically it leans up against your body there. Even more interestingly, pulling out doesn’t always work, no form of birth control is 100% effective, and weed can’t be much worse than cigarettes or alcohol, yet it remains illegal. Use google, and any insecurities you once had will vanish- and all faith in health class will vanish, because none of the above was ever covered at my school.
#13 Things will get better with your family.
When you’re a hormonal 13 year old, life is literally hell on earth. This, matched against your parents or siblings, is a recipe for disaster. Conflicting view points, opinions, styles, and beliefs are just some of the reasons fights arise as you grow up. Moving out and getting as far away from everyone seems like the best solution, but as time goes on and you both learn to accept your differences, odds are, the smoke will clear.
It may seem like the end of the world, and you may feel hurt or disrespected, but odds are, you family is feeling the same way. For a long time, I dreamt of the day I could escape my house- I was constantly fighting with my parents over various things, and always felt like a victim because they didn’t understand what I was trying to say. There were many times when I’d run away and found that I couldn’t sit in the same room with them. Years later, we’re on generally good terms and for the most part, are able to respect each others differences. You learn to forget the stupid things that happened and the stubbornness you share over your opinions as you grow up, and realize life is too short. Rather than fighting constantly, enjoying being together is what really matters.
After this semi-comedic approach to helpful life reminders, I must now pull the curtains closed. I’d like to hope that if anyone ever comes across this, that it is beneficial in some way. I’ve been slacking on this blog over here, and need to kick my bum back into action! Not that this blog is teeming with views or followers, but still. Some of the things I post could be helpful to any wandering souls.
Just remember- this life is all you’ve got. Make the most of it, be proud of yourself, be kind to yourself and others. Listen to others, stay open minded, and don’t let the negativity of the world weigh you down too much. This planet is far from perfect, but we can make it better together. Hopping off my soapbox now, night!
Main Image credit: Odyssey