Hey guys! I'm a new member of the Teen Talk Hotline and as my first article, I thought I'd start out by writing out a letter to you guys. Below are the words that I wish I got to hear growing up but never did. Please soak them in because these lessons I've learned throughout my life have helped me go such a long way, and I hope to inspire you to do the same.
Being a teenager can be scary sometimes, I know. You are at that point in your life where you’re not exactly a kid anymore but you’re not considered an adult yet. You might be confused. Things feel incredibly awkward. You’re afraid of the future and what it holds for you, but you also can’t wait to get out of here. You want to start fresh but you’re afraid to leave everything you know behind you. You’re ready to move on and begin to live what you’ve been dreaming after all these years, but you still have so much of yourself to work on before you’re ready to live on your own. I don’t know anything about your circumstances. Maybe you’re taking care of your family, maybe you just went through an incredibly rough patch in your life and just now recovering and maybe it’s you that’s going through it right now. Maybe you have yet to go through one. Whatever it is that may be troubling you, I want you to know right now that you are not alone going through this. Maybe you have someone in your life that’s important to you like a family member, best friend, significant other, teacher or coach, even a pet. Maybe you don’t have anyone. And that’s okay. I want you to know that I understand what it feels like feeling as small and insignificant as humanly possible and how sometimes it can ache in places you didn’t even know you had in you. Or maybe you feel nothing at all. I know that you must have so many questions and so many thoughts are running through your head. Or maybe you’re just so busy that your mind doesn’t allow you to go there. We are all so young still and we’re still trying to figure out so many things at once. But for just a moment, I want you to set all of that aside and listen to my words:
You are not a burden. You are not cursed to your sadness that you feel. You are not doomed. You are not hopeless. Your feelings that you feel are not irrational. The world is not crumbling. It continues to spin, despite the damage it’s been through.
There will come a time when you will want to break the usual routine. Do it. Realize that your life is not set in stone and you do not have to follow a certain guideline.
Live spontaneously. You’ll eventually discover what you like.
You won’t always like to talk to people, and that’s okay. You are allowed your solitude as long as it doesn’t hinder your progress. Learn to live independently, you will need that skill.
Sometimes you’ll believe that nothing ever gets better again, and you’re wrong. Things change and people leave, but you are courageous and you can and are allowed to move forward. Know that it’s okay to look back as long as you know why those people or places are behind you.
You do not need to be “cured” or “fixed.” You are not “broken.” Labeling yourself hinders you from flourishing. Do not give yourself labels. You are simply in a position and that will change with enough time, awareness and effort.
The world does not disappoint. People disappoint. Learn who to let into your life, who to hold onto, and who to let go of. Your tribe influences your vibe. Spend more time with people who allow you to grow and who push you to succeed. Don’t ever give anyone your time who makes you feel like you’re hard to love.
Happiness and success are not destinations. They are states of being that you work to be in. You will have moments of failure, despair, greif, frustration, sadness and more. Just know that they are just as natural as happiness. Embrace your emotions more, feelings are so beautiful. They let you know you’re alive. But don’t let your emotions define who you are or control your actions. Emotions do not equal behavior. Behavior is influenced by your emotions and how you express yourself. You do not have to do anything in the name of other people’s satisfaction or happiness. This is YOUR life and you are allowed to live it by YOUR standards. You were not given this life just to live it for someone else. You are in control. Read that again. YOU are in control. Do not ever let anyone else take control of your life. You are not someone who is “too” this or that. You are someone. You are you. Nobody gets to put a label on you. Nobody gets to define who you are. Nobody gets to determine who you get to be. Only you can do that.
You are not someone who turns away from sunsets and sunrises and pretends like darkness is all you’ve ever known. The sun will rise again, and the words that are buried deep inside you will spill out like an overflowing sea because you have a voice and you get to use that voice in any way you choose. Painting, music, writing it out, speaking, it’s all up to you.
Your hands are not tied behind your back, even if someone put them there. You have the power to untie them.
You have not reached the summit yet. There is so much more ahead of you. You will go over millions of mountains all throughout your life, you will experience so many memorable moments. Some happy, some bittersweet, some devastating, but they’re just moments. That’s all they are. Everyone has a story they tell themselves. What is yours? You tell yourself your own story. Your past shapes who you become, but you are the one who determines that. You are only shaped, never defined. The story you tell yourself is what defines you. You believe the things you tell yourself. Read that again. Remember that, always. Stop looking for endings, you don’t flip to the last page of the book once you start reading it just to know the ending. You have to follow the events that lead up to it. You don’t fast forward to the end of a movie to see if the girl ends up with her dream boy. Everything that leads up to the grand finale is what’s important. Endings don’t mean anything. The journey means everything. So gracefully set a foot on your journey, follow every footstep, because it’s your journey.
Make the most of what you know. When you fall, fall gracefully. When you rise, rise proudly with humbleness. Because you. You are a unicorn. One of a kind, there is nobody like you. You. You are a phoenix. When you die, you rise again, out through the ashes, wings set ablaze, ready to soar the skies like you never have before. You will die over and over again. But you will rise again.
If you are reading this, I want you to know that everything that you do is up to you.
Just wait one more minute. Let it pass. It will be okay. If you feel trapped, acknowledge that you have free will. You always have! You are one decision away from living a completely different life in a completely different world. That may scare you, but it doesn’t have to. Because if you’re reading this, you’ve come this far. And I am so proud of you. Everything turned out okay. Everything turns out okay. You are here. You always were.
There is so much more I want to say, but I still have yet so much to learn. I don’t have all the answers. And I don’t need to. I just need to know that it’s up to me to live the life I want and make the best of my current circumstances, and you can do it too. You will go to new places and meet so many people. Little pieces of your soul will recollect and make you feel whole again. All of those weird, awkward years of your life will eventually begin to fade once you begin to shift your perspective on the things that matter deeply to you.
Life’s opportunities are limitless. All it takes is perspective.