First, lets talk about Choices:
You can’t control what happens to you, but you do control what happens in you. Please consider this advice. You can’t change a single thing in the past, no matter how bad you want to or how hard you try. But, you do have a say in what happens in the future and that future will be largely shaped by your attitude and your choices.
It is imperative, however, that you think ahead. It’s an absolute must. The choices you make today will shape your tomorrow. Please remember and never forget that every act has a consequence. Most of those consequences will be unintended – they will not be what you wanted nor what you planned but they will be what you have to live with. Do not forget that.
So hear me out now, I beg you. Pleasure lasts for only a moment. Happiness lasts much longer and contentment even longer. You must be careful when making choices: just because something feels good doesn't mean it is good.
Two bits of advice that can make your adolescent years less stressful and a lot more satisfying. Ready? Here it is. Don’t expect too much and don’t settle for too little.
I work with teenagers every day and I what I have discovered is that a great deal of the emotional trauma in their life comes from faulty expectations. Teenagers expect too much from others, especially their peers.
Dear young people. Stop expecting anyone else to make you happy. I promise you’ll be much happier if you do.
Oddly enough though, my experience has been that the same teenagers who expect too much from others will at the same time settle for far too little.
They often allow others to disrespect and pressure them. Young people, please do yourself a huge favor, don't allow others to treat you badly. You deserve better. Hang out instead with people who bring out the best in you, and you be the kind of person who brings out the best in others. Follow my advice and see what happens.
And now for Responsibility:
Consider this carefully because this bit of advice can really make a huge difference in your life, probably more than all the others. Think of responsibility as a privilege and stop thinking of it as a penalty. I know it’s hard but if you start treating responsibility as a pleasure and not as an imposition you will create for yourself all kinds of new opportunities. Believe me. It’s true.
Dependability and self-reliance are the tickets to more freedom and independence. Don’t waste energy resisting what you have to do. Instead, win others’ trust by doing what you should do. If you do this, if you embrace responsibility in both the big and little things, people with sit up and take notice. They absolutely will.
Let me tell you why - because you will be different and I mean that in a good way. You will stand out among your peers. Heck, you will even stand out among most adults. It’s the truth. Responsibility is the road to success, just as it is the road to freedom.
Here is an important one, Be yourself:
President John F. Kennedy once said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” That is true. Mindless conformity is a prison.
You need to find your best self and be it. You can’t be anyone else and no one else can be you. But have you ever noticed that everyone who is trying to be different looks alike and acts alike.
I encourage you to express yourself authentically and don’t be afraid to stand out. But, at the same time you must keep in mind that you don’t need to behave or dress in extreme ways just to be different. You don’t need purple hair, tattoos or body piercings to be different or special. In the end, it’s more important to be respected than to be noticed.
A wise old country preacher summed up the issue so well when he said, “You've got to be who you is. Cause if you is who you ain’t, you ain’t who you is.” So my advice to you - be who you is.
Lastly, Growing Up:
If your parents are in the room ask them to step out for a moment. I want to say something just to you. Are they gone? Good. Now listen up. Ready? Stop whining and start winning.
You need to stop complaining and take charge of your own life. Your life is your ship; be the captain, not a passenger. Figure out what needs to be done to improve your life and make it happen. Stop expecting your parents, your friends, or anyone else to fix everything for you. It is your life. It is your responsibility. You are not a child anymore so get on with it. As the song goes, “don’t go crying to your mama cause you live in the real world.”
Start being the adult your parents want you to be and they will start treating you like the adult you want to be.
Now, when your parents come back into the room I want you to hold them by the hand, look them in the eye and say, “I’m sorry.” After they recover from the shock, show them you mean business. Not only will it rock their world but it could positively change yours.