I asked several of my friends, some in their late 20s, a few past 70 years old and most between 30 to 40 years. I asked them what was the one thing they wished they were told when they were teenagers. I asked this question hoping they would provide some good counsel, in retrospect, to one young person going through teenagehood now.
Some responses are witty, some succinct yet profound, others relatable wishing I had been given that advice. I will only list them here as shared by my friends with the hope they will write a more detailed article shortly to post it here.
I desire that you will pick a point or two and that life will be more meaningful, bearable and that you would avoid some tragic decision in your youth.
I will group them for ease of reading.
Relationship with God
- I wish I was told that the essence of life is to know God (John 17:3).
- I wish someone told me that God loves me.
- I wish I was told that God is more interested in building a relationship with me, than in my performance. That I cannot perform to buy His approval.
- I wish I was told that God’s ways of perfecting us may feel painful, but His character of love and goodness never changes. He is good no matter what.
- I wish I was reminded that God’s love superseded the DO NOTs.
I wish I were told
- To love me.
- That it is ok to politely say ‘NO’ regardless of place and person.
- That my opinion matters without feeling guilty about offending.
- That it is ok to embrace who I am regardless of how different I am from others.
- To have a healthier relationship with myself and others.
- Life does not consist in what I or my parents have or do not have. Life is not about possessing one thing or another. The important thing is to develop a character like that of Christ.
I wish someone told me
- Life is tough and full of temptations.
- Life is not always a smooth journey, it is not always fair and it is okay when we are disappointed or cannot have our way. This would have helped me become much stronger and easily bear disappointments.
- Life is not going to get better.
- Life comes in stages and each stage must be approached strategically. (Sounds simple and obvious, but some of us swam into life as it came)
What I wished I was taught or learnt was
- Resilience and openness to explore wider than the conventional. Book smart came to me, but there’s a level of perseverance in this world that even University does not teach.
- Life skills and how to survive on my own as a teenager
- Not to seek approval from others but God
- The value of vocational skills
- To love unconditionally
- How to navigate through life’s challenges wholesomely
Beyond the books
I wish I were told
- Being a top achiever/performer could raise much opposition and does not always guarantee economic success. In short, I should have been told that “Life owes you nothing. Do your best to the best of your ability and leave the rest to God. Human beings will not always reward you for being exemplary/outstanding.”
- That books aren’t everything. I focused a little too much on book smart instead of exploring other passions and interests.
- Life is just not all about education! There is more to life than that—family, friends, talents, sports, cooking, sewing, and much more.
- How much learning to study in-depth at that point would make a difference in my life later regarding being able to choose what to take in the University and following through on my decisions and ultimately my career down the line.
- I wish I was taught how to play a musical instrument in my teenage. I am struggling with learning now, and it is a real struggle. They should have told me this earlier.
- I wish I had been introduced to the reading culture it could have made a big difference in my life.
- I would advise teenagers… Never underestimate the power of reading the Bible and other spiritual books. Embrace it and you will be happy.
I wish I were taught
- To start saving early
- To start saving as soon as possible. Compound interest is amazing if you start early. You can be a millionaire by 30 if you start putting aside little amounts
- How to manage finances and how to grow in that area.
I wish I were told
- To seek mentors or consult widely on my professional goals/opportunities
- To learn from others’ experiences (Many mistakes unnecessarily made or opportunities somehow lost).
- To do great things, you have to work both hard and smart
Dating and Social Life
I wish I were told
- How to correlate with different people. I feel like I was so protected that I became one-sided and almost judgmental of views and opinions that are different to what I hold.
- Not to fall into the pressure of getting into relationships (girlfriend, boyfriend scenarios) with the opposite sex. Wait. There is no hurry.
- Another key thing I am discovering is; who you surround yourself with in teenagehood is important. It’s the difference between success and failure. Surround yourself with good Christian friends. My Christian friends in high school and University made such a huge difference in my life.
- About relationships with the opposite sex and how one needs to make choices about it.
- That some people are not as nice as they seem! Be careful who you call a friend.
- That there are thieves in church.
- Not to date in my teen years.
I wish I was reminded
- To visit my paternal grandmother more often. She loved us.
- How mothers are very vital in building up homes and cherish them each day.
- That family are placed around me to build me and make me a better person
- I wish I was NOT told so many times that I was dull, because I doubt that I am smart to date. I feel I don’t deserve the job I have or I feel I don’t fit in around my peers.
- I wish I was taught how NOT to procrastinate, it is an achievement killer.
- I wish it was stressed that we have different strengths and that each of us is running our timelines.
- I wish I was told that I am loved and capable of reaching my highest potential.
- I wish I was told that fear is a bad thing. That I could lose many opportunities in life because of fear.
- I wish I was encouraged to be bold—bold to pursue various opportunities God brought along my way.
- I wish I were told that I could do whatever I dreamed, I could do.
I cannot wait to hear from you about this article and what lesson stood out for you. If you are past your teens, you are welcome to add your voice to my friends.