Today, my middle sister, Marianna, turned 13. She has entered the infamous teenage years. Her height is approaching my own in massive leaps and bounds, she’s in that miraculous time period where she can shop in either the girls or juniors section, and her teeth glisten with the metal braces worn by so many other young teens before her. It’s terrifying.
Marianna, while it is absolutely thrilling to be able to watch you grow up and become your own realized individual self, my own memories of you as a three year old who spent most of her time without pants and had an obsessive love for telephones are still much too vivid in my mind. I don’t understand how you went from the tiny toddler I nicknamed “Bubba”, (for reasons I still do not understand myself), to this amazingly grown up 13-year old so fast. The mind boggles, and I feel older myself. Because the phrase, “How did you grow up so fast???” is what old people say, and I am now one of those people.
But on this day of your birth, from over 1,000 miles away, I’d like to offer you what little I can on how to successfully navigate these teenage years. With my recent graduation from the teens to the 20s in May still fresh, I would like to offer you these suggestions.
An Open Letter to Teenagers
Been a teenager is weird. People regard you simultaneously as someone who cannot be trusted at all and yet also as someone who needs to find ways to take on more responsibility and spread your wings. Its confusing. Don’t be afraid of responsibility, it’s a good thing, and know that no matter what comes at you you can totally handle it.
Your reputation is actually quite important when it comes to adults; you should actually attempt to care about how you present yourself to them. Be polite, be sociable, and save your crazy-fun side for your friends. They’ll appreciate it more anyways.
When you go to school dances, just dance like you would if you were in your room and no one was watching. Dance loud, dance proud, and dance often. Trust me, everyone that looks at you is just jealous that you actually look like you’re having fun, and they wish they had the courage to dance as they truly want to.
Relationships enter the scene during these teenage years, but they aren’t the main act. Don’t ever let another person define you; make sure you know yourself before you try to intimately know another person, or you risk letting someone else prescribe to you who to be.
This one’s cliche, but parents are actually pretty right usually. Not always, but usually. In the case you do truly believe yourself to be being wronged, approach your parents about whatever the injustice is professionally, showing them your reasoning and where you believe the flaw is in their own logic. Be willing to listen to them if they in turn try to explain their reasoning to you.
When dealing with fights with friends, never underestimate the power of an apology. Try to understand why they feel what they feel, and it will make communication between you guys so much easier. And always strive to give your apologies in person, at the soonest possible opportunity.
Never send important messages over casual forms of communication. Face-to-face should be the primary mode of conveying any sort of special request, serious discussion, genuine apology, or big news.
Spell out the word ‘you’. Spell out all words for that matter. Please kids this isn’t the 2000s anymore. It’s the 2010s.
Don’t text at the dinner table, with either family or friends. When hanging out with friends, don’t be on your phone the whole time. Be present to those around you.
Don’t be afraid to disagree with people, but never let any differences of opinion you may have with a person cause you to treat that person in a lesser manner.
Have crazy amounts of school spirit. Do ridiculous things for your teams: dress up in obnoxious outfits, scream and stamp your heart out, and support with enthusiasm your classmates and peers, they really appreciate it.
Treasure your family time. You don’t have to be out with friends every weekend (it’s exhausting anyway) and it doesn’t make you uncool if you take an evening and just play Monopoly with the fam. Or Lord of the Rings Risk. Or Bananagrams. Or occasionally around the holidays, Scrabble or Balderdash. You have no idea how much you’ll miss this later on.
Enjoy the massive amounts of food you can eat!! Seriously, it’s coming; the time when you can’t just eat 6 Chinese donuts after already confusing a full meal of Asian buffet food without feeling rather ill. The time when you become uncomfortably aware of the food choices you make and the healthiness of what you consume. I promise you it’s coming, so enjoy your blissful ignorance and bottomless appetite now.
That’s my biggest thoughts for you there Marianna. It’s a great time, and it will be filled with the highest peaks you’ve ever experienced, as well as the lowest valleys, but I’m positive you’re gonna love it.
Love, your recently graduated to the 20s big sister,
P.S. I’m very serious about the dancing thing: LIKE NO ONES WATCHING
Like this guy: