You figure yourself and how your adult life will turn out more during your adolescence than at any other time in your life. It’s incredibly exciting and scary too. Apply these 10 teen life hacks when you get stuck. Some are about your relationship with yourself, some about other people, some about school and work. They work!
1. Wait it out
Almost every single middle-aged person you speak you will tell you this: no matter how good or bad their teen years were, life gets better. You get better-looking, or at least more stylish. You learn to laugh at yourself, and other people’s opinions start to be less important. You like yourself better. So on the bad days, tell yourself: this is a learning curve, but I WILL get to the other end of it.
You figure yourself and how your adult life will turn out more during your adolescence than at any other time in your life. It’s incredibly exciting and scary too.
2. Be nice to your body
It’s the only one you get. For many people, especially women, making peace with the way they look is a lifelong struggle. If you can develop an early appreciation for the amazing vehicle the body that houses you is, you’ll save yourself so much unnecessary trouble. Your generation invented body positivity, so we feel hopeful that you’ll manage this one. Try this: look at yourself in the mirror before your shower and say or write down one positive thing about your body every day.
3. Don’t abuse it
Related: don’t put stuff in your body that’s bad for it. Alcohol, tobacco, performance-enhancing drugs, recreational drugs, too much or too little food… Get it? Nobody looks at themselves at 40 and is happy they started smoking. Nobody.
4. Break it up
School, sport, hobbies, friends, family... Overwhelmed by all the demands on you? It’s a lot, we know, and sometimes, you tell yourself, “I MUST study!” and then you sit down at your desk – and you have no idea where to begin. That’s because “must study” is vague and unhelpful. Yes, we know the Maths exam at the end of the year will test all your knowledge, but right now, today, you felt unsure about the quadratic equations you did in class. So say this: “Today, at home, I will spend half an hour re-reading the chapter on quadratic equations, and I will practise five examples.” That’s attainable. Many things in life are like this, that’s why we have the saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Just take that first bite.
5. Forgive yourself
No person on earth has it all figured out the second they retire from adolescence. You keep on learning and changing throughout your life, so don’t think the choices and mistakes you make in these few years are going to be everything. (The pace of change slows down in adulthood though – and thank goodness, because who can sustain the intensity of puberty? Even your parents are exhausted!) The best people resist becoming rigid and boring in their old age. If you’ve made a mistake, learn from it. Now let it go and move on.
6. Do as you would be done to
Most major religions include some version of this in their instruction manual. Whether it’s how you speak to a friend, how you compete in a match, and how you treat a girlfriend or boyfriend, don’t behave in a way that would upset you if someone did it to you. Simple and elegant.
7. Learn to listen to the little voice
Everybody has an instinct. If something feels wrong, it is usually your little voice inside sounding a warning. Whether it’s telling you that you’re getting a “no” feeling about something sexual you are doing, or that a certain person is untrustworthy, or that you probably shouldn’t lie to your parents about meeting up with a stranger you connected with online, listen. The little voice is rarely wrong, and giving it airtime boosts its power. It will help you your whole life long.
8. Look for reasons to say yes
You may not be the best hockey player. Play anyway. Public speaking may frighten you. Give it a go, once, anyway. Yes, you can’t load your plate with every single activity, and you do have to be selective, especially if it turns out you really have a passion and a talent for one particular thing, and it demands loads of your time. But try out – and be rejected – once in a while. It’s a reminder that rejection – while awful – is part of life. Your crush wants to break up. A friendship hasn’t worked out. A university hasn’t accepted you for the course you want. But you’ll have the resilience to overcome the disappointment.
9. Embrace the fun
While it can be hard, adolescence can also be an intensely fun time of life. Ignore cranky adults rolling their eyes and give yourself over to the silliness and giggles. It’s good for you!
10. Ask for help
Everyone gets overwhelmed. We can’t stress this one enough: asking for help when you're not coping is a sign of wisdom, not weakness! Speak to a parent, teacher, friend or call Lifeline on 08 000 55 555 if you feel desperate. There are people who can and want to help you.
Read more: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey is an accessible, fun guide through the teen years by the son of the hugely popular 7 Habits of Highly Successful People author, Stephen Covey.