An Open Letter to Teens
Advice for current and future generations
Dear Current and Future Generations:
As you grow into adulthood you will be faced with a lot of temptation, challenges, sadness and even the occasional happy day. You will make and lose friends and be the source of frustration and joy for your parents every day. Trust me, I’ve been in your shoes and trying to find your way in today’s world will be difficult – much more so than it was when I was a kid.
No, I didn’t have to walk 10 miles barefoot uphill in the snow to get to school every day, I didn’t have go outside to use the bathroom, and I didn’t have to fall asleep every night in a room right out of “Little House on the Prairie” – although I loved that show. But I did have my own problems growing up; so did your parents and their parents, and their parents before them.
The changes in the world as kids are growing up today has really bothered me. There seems to be a lackadaisical attitude among our youth and an inability to be grateful for what they have. At the risk of sounding “preachy” I want to offer some words of wisdom that I learned the hard way and whether you want my advice or not, I’m going to give it to you anyway. So put down your phone and tablet, take off your headphones and listen up. You just might learn something:
• The world does not revolve around you. Believe it or not, when you leave a room life does go on.
• You are not entitled to anything, so don’t expect your every wish to be granted.
• Get a job the day you turn 16. If you wait until you are in your 20’s to enter the job market, you will miss out on some vital experience and people skills that you will desperately need when you get older.
• Do not let your parents buy your first car. Get it yourself with the money you’ll be making when you start working at 16.
• Pay your own way. When you start earning your own money, you are old enough to take care of yourself – this includes (but not limited to) buying your own clothes and paying for your own cell phone bill.
• Open your own checking and savings account with your first paycheck. Learning the value of money and how to budget early on will save you excessive stress and worry later in life.
• Be careful who you trust your secrets to – as they say, “not everyone who smiles at you is your friend.”
• Say Hi to the new kid in school, and the outcast and the nerd. You are no better than them so don’t make them feel that way.
• Do not rely on other people to take care of you. As you go through your teenage years, you must learn to take care of yourself. You will eventually learn that YOU are the only one who can do this.
• Do not lose yourself in an attempt to follow others. This is incredibly easy to do when trying to fit in and trust me, you will regret it.
• Work your ass off for what you want – becoming who you are meant to is a struggle every day; but if you study, pay attention and above all, LISTEN, the journey will be worth it.
• Don’t take anyone or anything for granted. Just because you have it today, doesn’t mean it will be there tomorrow. Life can change in the blink of an eye.
• Perhaps the most important lesson is this – Your parents did the best they could with what they knew at the time. Love them, respect them and don’t let a day go by without saying “I Love You”
I’ve been through a lot in my own life, and I’ve made my share of mistakes. But I’ve learned from them and hopefully changed for the better. But I wish someone had given me the same advice I’m trying to give you. So take it to heart. As Drew Barrymore said in the film Never Been Kissed, “You will spend your lives trying to keep others down because it makes you feel more important. All of you people, there is a big world out there… bigger than prom, bigger than high school and it won’t matter if you were the prom queen, the quarterback of the football team, or the biggest nerd in school. Find out who you are and try not to be afraid of it.”