By Amanda Markel
Dear Teenage Girls:
There are so many things I want to tell you. So many things I wish somebody had told me. I was your age not that terribly long ago, so I remember! Here are just a few things I want you to know, things I think will help you navigate the choppy waters of being a teenager in high school:
- Go to church—I know, some people will say it’s “not cool” to go to church. People who say that aren’t your friends, and they’re flat-out wrong. Every chance you get to receive God’s gifts, to remember your baptism, and to gather with your church family, is a good thing. Take advantage of it. I have never regretted time spent in church, and I don’t think you will, either.
- Pray!—I know you know this, but God listens to everything you say. So pray to Him. He may not always agree with you, but He loves you more than anyone else does, even more than your parents do. So, take it all to Him in prayer: the good, the bad, and the seemingly ordinary. Because He cares more than anybody!
- Don’t change yourself to impress boys—I hate the movie Grease, because Sandy changes who she is because she thinks that will get a boy to like her. Don’t do that. You are fantastic the way you are, and if a boy can’t see that, he’s not worth your time. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but just wait…mature boys will like you for you!
- Don’t change yourself to impress anybody—So, you haven’t changed yourself or your beliefs to impress boys…good job! But you also shouldn’t change yourself to impress your friends, or anybody else. You are a child of God…and that how He wants you to be! So be true to yourself. You are amazing the way you are!
- Talk to your parents—This may seem almost as bad as going to church. Teenagers aren’t supposed to want to spend time with their parents, much less talk to them about the important and not-so-important things going on in their lives, but guess what? They love you more than anybody else in your earthly life does. They want to know what’s going on with you, what’s important to you, and what struggles you’re having. And, believe it or not, they may even have some good advice, some words of wisdom that may help you out.
- Dress for yourself—It can be tempting to become a prisoner to the latest fashion trends, or whatever the cool kids are wearing at school. As an adult, I still love fashion, so I understand! But you shouldn’t be wearing things you don’t like or that make you feel miserable just to fit in. Wear what makes you happy. Wear what makes you feel good about yourself, what makes you feel confident. Wear what’s flattering. Take it from someone with experience…if you feel good about yourself, and are confident in what you’re wearing, you’re going to look a lot better than you would if you were simply wearing what’s popular.
- Learn the difference between infatuation and love—When a cute boy smiles at you, or your crush asks you out on a date, it can be easy to think that “it must be love!” But true love…well, it doesn’t show up every day. Infatuations happen, and they’re not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you acknowledge them for what they are…a passing fancy. True love is so much more, and sometimes, it takes what seems like forever to find it. Don’t abandon that search just because you’re momentarily inflated with a boy!
- Chastity is not a bad thing!—Let’s face it…there will always be people who make fun of you for being chaste. They might even be chaste themselves, but they’re still going to point at you, and mock you. Ignore them. There is nothing wrong with being chaste. There are chaste adults…it’s not limited to teenagers. Popular opinion should not encourage you to make major life decisions!
- Don’t sacrifice your comfort for anybody else—It can be easy to fall into a trap of thinking you have to do certain things, even uncomfortable things, to impress your friends, or boys, or anybody. If you like high heels, by all means, wear them, even if you find them uncomfortable. But if you think they’re uncomfortable, and you hate that, don’t wear them. You have nothing to prove, and you don’t ever need to suffer like that for somebody else’s benefit!
- Choose your friends carefully—Good friends are awesome. They will listen to you, laugh with you, and cry with you. They will support you through anything, but they will also tell you when you’re wrong. Good friends are irreplaceable. Bad friends, on the other hand, will turn on you, make fun of you behind your back (or even to your face), and encourage you to do things you shouldn’t. Run away from these people…they’re not worth your time!
- Choose your boyfriends carefully—Everybody wants to date the “jock.” But you know what? It’s fine to date a nerd, too. What a guy is interested in isn’t important. How he treats you (and your family!), is way more important than his stats on the field or the court. And the most important thing? Does he share you faith? Because if he doesn’t, you’re going to have a difficult time finding common ground, no matter how much you like each other, or even how nice he is.
- Learn as much as you can—I know, I know…social stuff is so much more fun than schoolwork. But the more you learn in high school, the better off you’ll be in college, if that’s where you’re headed. And even if you’re not headed to college, you’ll never regret learning all you can. Even as an adult, I’m still learning…the good news is that once you’re a “grown-up,” you get to choose what you learn. But a general, comprehensive education can only help you as you go through your adult life!
- This too shall pass—Let’s face it…high school can be a difficult time. Some people love it, some people hate it, but almost everybody has difficulties along the way, whether it’s with friends, or boys, or grades, or whatever. But it is just temporary, so even when things seem hard, you know it won’t last forever!
Love in Christ,
A Woman Who Has Been There