We have some pretty negative stereotypes of teenagers, and honestly, that’s too bad. While it’s true they can be moody, think they know everything, and have little respect for authority, those qualities often belie their strengths. As a teenager, I remember feeling like I could do anything. I channeled all those emotions into dreaming about life after high school. The world welcomed me into its arms. There wasn’t a single thing I thought I couldn’t do.
I’m two decades past those high school days, but I’ve been tapping back into those memories to pick up novel writing again. I’m revisiting my youth in order to re-evaluate what’s possible and to encourage myself to try new things without fear. Here are ways that unlocking my inner teenager has made me stronger as an adult:
Tell Yourself that Audacious Goals are Possible
It’s easy to limit yourself as an adult because you have so many responsibilities. Limiting what you are capable of can feel comfortable, but it can also be confining. If you want to try something bold, tell yourself you can. Don’t let yourself make excuses. If you need inspiration, go online and see what other people your age are doing. I guarantee, whatever it is, an adult has accomplished what you want to try. So be inspired to try harder rather than give up before you’ve begun.
Rediscover Old Interests
I am an auditory learner, and music evokes many emotions and memories for me. Just listening to a song can transport me instantly back in time. I’ve made playlists of the music I used to love, and it really brings back those feelings of being a teenager. Picking up fiction writing has also been a surprise. I used to write just for fun, not because I wanted to be published or I wanted to make a career out of it. When I get discouraged or tell myself that writing is a waste of time, I push back on that with my teenage self and say, “Who cares? I just want to write, no matter where it gets me.”
Try New Things
One of the best pieces of advice someone gave me before I went to college was to try everything, to use college as a springboard into discovering who I am and what I like. I dropped that advice after I got my degree, but honestly, it’s good advice at any age. I’m trying new things, even if they scare me or I don’t think I can do it. I recently tried out to sing the National Anthem at a minor league baseball game, and they picked me to sing. This was not something I thought at all possible until I decided to just do it.
The most common teenage stereotype is one of rebellion, doing whatever they please. While you may not want to “stick it to The Man” anymore, social media makes it easy to feel like people are nit-picking your lifestyle. You might feel you are not supporting the right causes. You don’t parent the right way. You’re not pursuing the right goals. Take a page from your teenage self and ignore negativity. If you think you know what you’re doing, then do what you think is best, outside opinions be damned.
Keep an Open Mind
While this may seem at odds with the rebellious stereotype, teenagers are still young adults and thus, are susceptible to thinking about things in a new way. Don’t completely close yourself off from new ideas. If you are presented with a new idea that you haven’t thought about, really absorb that information. Maybe you don’t agree, and that’s okay. Or maybe you agree with part of the message. Allow yourself to change old opinions as you process new information, not because you are pressured into it, but because it makes sense given your worldview. And be compassionate to others when you can.
I certainly wouldn’t want to be a teenager again, but there’s a power in tapping into my past to help shape my future. If you feel inspired to access your inner teenager, please relate your stories below in the comments.