An Open Letter To Teenagers: Life Gets Worse And Better

Dear teenager,

You’re probably sitting in your room, pouting over getting grounded for saying a curse word in front of the family or breaking something. Perhaps you can read this letter to pass the time. It sure beats having to write 150 times, “I will not play with my phone in class,” though you tried to tell the teacher you were just using the calculator. It’s hard to pass that one off in history class.

Being 16 seems tough. I’ve been there. You have to write these ridiculously long papers, sometimes as long as eight pages long. And, no, Wikipedia is not a source.

Lunches are awkward — you have to sit at those folding tables with either the two-person seats (which are really made for one) or at a long bench. Either way, you won’t always get to sit next to your friend. One of your elbows is likely going to end up in that sorry excuse for applesauce on the tray of the person sitting next to you. And there is a 50-50 chance that person didn’t shower for a couple days. But hey, at least it was pizza day, unless the cooks decided chili crispitos were a better choice because of leftover chili.

Yes, life is tough when you are 16. You can’t fathom why Mom and Dad won’t give you a car, especially when everyone else has one. Finding a date for prom seems impossible, though you want to go no matter what. You’ll have fun as long as no one else wears the same dress as you, especially if that person is a teacher.

The world is ending because your first crush crushed your heart. It’s going to hurt like hell, but you’ll get over it. You’ll find someone that cares more about you instead of his muscles, though it may take a few tries.

You may not get along with all of the girls and boys, and they may hate you, too. When you get older, you’ll wonder why the hell anyone cared who was the most popular, who was the star quarterback or who was homecoming queen. It’s not like that will help you get a career. In fact, someday you may regret calling that girl something not-so-nice, so try to resist punching them in the face and walk away.

Unless they call you a poor, redneck farmgirl. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

They will say you are weird and call you things behind your back, like pizza-face, fat, anorexic, geek, dumbo, gay, lesbo and a whole list of hurtful things. That stupid saying, “Sticks and stones?” It’s not true. You’re going to cry about it at night, and you are going to think life isn’t worth living.

You’ll think your parents hate you because they are so hard on you. You may even be scared because you don’t know what comes after high school.

What is life like in the real world? I’m not going to lie. It’s not easy. You have to be a grownup and pretend nothing bothers you. You have to get a job, if you are lucky enough to find one. You are going to lose things, and not just hairpins and socks.

Speaking of which, you’ll have to do your own laundry, cook for yourself and wash the dishes. You have to buy your own food and bills will make your money disappear. And some days, you’ll still feel like giving up.

But it does get better. It’s not always the case, but people seem to be more accepting of you. If you find a job, especially one you love, it won’t ever feel like you are working, even on Saturdays. You’ll likely only have a few friends, but they will be some of the best ones, and they will sit down and eat a pint of ice cream with you when your boyfriend or girlfriend decides he or she is not into you anymore.

You’re family won’t seem like the enemy. Though that won’t last forever, so love them while they are still around. After all, they may leave sooner than you think.

But there is one thing you should do: Never change who you are, and don’t be afraid to live by your beliefs. People will throw dirt in your face sometimes, but you’ll be respected for not caving in to the mainstream. Your soul won’t feel so heavy if you have to hide things. And life will get better. Just keep an open mind and don’t limit yourself.

Who knows? The path of life may take you somewhere you never expected. Maybe you’ll get what you always wanted.

Maybe you’ll be talking to thousands of people through a column with some cheesy title to match your last name. Wouldn’t that be crazy?

Just remember, someone will always be there for you if you ask.

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