I think about this topic a lot lately. I have lots of teens & young adults in my life. I see myself in their shoes. So many of them struggle with things I struggled with. Things that really weren't important in the long term. So here is the list of things I would go back in time & tell myself:
1. Don't worry about dating! - I am no longer the person I was in high school. The things I wanted in a guy then is not what I wanted when I started thinking about marriage. I wish I had worried less about dating & more about hanging out with friends. How could I even think of loving someone else when at that time I didn't really know what love was. I wasted so much time & so many tears on guys who were not Husband material.
2. Focus on finding out who God made me to be! - I wish I had spent more time getting to know God & exploring the gifts He equipped me with. I wish I would have found a mentor to study God's Word with. I wish I would have tried serving in different capacities in my church to find out what my gifts were. I also wish I had memorized more scripture. It is much harder to memorize when you are in your 40s!
3. Don't worry about being popular! - when in high school, there is lots of pressure to be in the in crowd. I wish I had worried less about that & instead cultured my friendships with those I had common interests. Once you get out of school, you look for those who like the same things you do. You never again try to force yourself to be friends with people just because you are the same age. You choose friends who have the same beliefs, or who have the same career or who live in the same area.
4. Stop trying to grow up so fast! - I remember as a teen wishing time would fly & I could be out of this stage of life. Now I look back & wish I could go back. That time had less responsibility & worry. If I had focused on what I could do back then, I might have enjoyed it more.
5. Start good habits! - I wish I had started exercising regularly & eating healthier back then. I also wish I had learned good money management skills. It's easier to start good habits when you are younger & harder to break bad habits when you are older.
6. Listen to your parents! - I know I thought mine didn't understand me, but now I see that they did. They could see a bigger picture of life. They knew there was more to life than high school. They didn't always do things right, as they were human after all. But they always had my best interests at heart.
7. You do not have to be like everyone else! - I think the biggest lie I believed as a teen was that I needed to be just like everyone else. Guess what? There is no "normal" person. God made each person unique & most teens feel like they are different. You have a choice: try to be just like everyone else or embrace your uniqueness & be happy with who you are. This goes back to point 2. By focusing on God's Word & learning about His love for you, you will be able to embrace life & become who He made you to be.
Life as a teen is hard. I struggled emotionally. But God was Faithful! He helped me to stay strong & faithful in my walk with Him. Because of Him, my life became a witness to those I grew up with. If you lean on Him, study His Word & find some other Christians to encourage you, God will use you too!! Seeing God work in my life over the years makes life exciting! I eagerly anticipate what God will do next in my life.