As a teenager, you might be told that your only duty is to grow up, to become an efficient man or woman for the sake of the future society.
Some adults may tell you that it is crucial to be a hard-working scholar for your tomorrow, others assure you that school isn’t important but you have to show perfect grades to make it in the working world and, last but not least, some tell you that school isn’t important at all and they have made it that far without studying.
But here comes the question that has been lingering in my mind for far too long: why is school seen as the only way to measure our growth?
Don’t we grow up in summer too, when we watch the sunset become a starry night? When we think about who we are and who we wish to be?
I want to advise all those teens who have just started their youth to live it the best way, using my personal list:
Number 1: Don’t set any limit.
You probably don’t know you are one of the best people in the world. You are pure, your mind can think great and go against any barrier there’s in front of your eyes. Your brain can still work with no fear: use it to change the world NOW before people tell you there’s nothing you can do. Fight with uniqueness: you are young, hence you know many other ways to show your opinions than your parents and teachers do.
Teach them too.
Number 2: Don’t let grades define you.
2, 5 and 10 are numbers; A, C and F are letters; you are a unique individuum. Maybe you can’t express yourself with essays or you are not excellent in Maths, but the world beyond those desks is much bigger than they teach you. Try sports, music, videos, comedy, arts, photography, theatre… oh, so many things you can discover!
A 10 doesn’t mean you are the greatest person in the world, please understand this before you find out you are human and have troubles too; the same thing, a 2 doesn’t say you are stupid, not even God knows the exact number of “insufficient” people I had wonderful conversations with. Don’t aim for a number, aim for the good of your heart and of those you love.
Number 3: learn the beauties of ALL stories.
Read books and comics, watch movies, TV series and cartoons, play video games, go to the theatre, watch videos, hear music, audiobooks and podcasts. Don’t let people tell you there is a genre better than another. Try all of them to assure you know the greatest stories first. Once you find the format you prefer, study it and learn why that’s your favourite. Don’t just convince yourself that something is good because others tell you. Stories are the best way to form your critical thinking safely, ready for the real world.Fall in love with your own passion and mind.
Number 4: All your emotions are important and normal.
We are brought to think that “happy” is the usual status. Know what? It isn’t. We are made of many feelings: joy, sorrow, anger, ecstasy… and you’re here now to sense them all. You grow in happiness and fear, in amazement and loathing.
It’s impossible to become an adult without feeling them all.
Number 5: don’t be ashamed of yourself.
Love the things you like and treasure them: they define you and show your best part. Do everything (safe, please) that comes to your mind: scream in the eye of the sea, dance in the middle of a square, pin your art where you’d like it to be seen, share your thoughts. Please, be your best supporter.
Put yourself first. If others judge you, it means you are first for them too. These are the statements I wanted to understand before I was so close to my eighteens, before I learnt that I had to grow more in order to be ready for what comes next, too afraid of not being worthy or enough.
Number 6: Never think about growing, think about living.
It’s the only way to grow up.