Throughout my teenage years, I dealt with a lot of mental health issues. I had social anxiety, depression, and OCD; I genuinely thought that I would not reach my 40th birthday. But when I received counseling treatment, my world became brighter.
Here are the things I should’ve told my teenage self that would’ve eased my mind.
It Is Okay To Speak Your Mind
Since I lived in a patriarchal family, my father was typically the only one who could speak his mind freely. He did not think of how my mother and I felt whenever he was too honest about what we were doing wrong, claiming it was tough love. It did not mean that my father knew everything, though. Sometimes, he merely wanted to exercise his power and make us follow his lead.
In reality, I could only cry whenever my father said mean things to me throughout my teenage years. That’s especially true when he commented about my weight and used “fatty” as a term of endearment. Though I was still far from being overweight or obese, such words made me too self-conscious, to the extent that I hid under baggy clothes and often thought that I would never be taken seriously by anyone.
Note to young self: No matter how close-minded you think your parents are, there are ways to make them listen to you. You can start by using your voice to express what’s on your mind. Say how much their words hurt you; don’t just take it all in quietly. You may be surprised at how their treatment may improve once they realize its effect on you.
Stop Worrying About Being Disliked By People
In every faction, people adhere to the norms created by their predecessors to avoid getting criticized for their actions. For instance, a student should always strive to be on top of the class to make the parents proud. Otherwise, folks will lose their interest in them and pay them no mind.
I used to be among those kids who worried about other people disliking me, to the point that I tried everything to stick to the norms. I studied hard, learned how to be prim and proper, and never toed any line. However, some individuals still tried to bully me, and my parents always had something to say about what aspects of myself I needed to improve. That made me resentful and felt like I was worse than others.
Note to young self: Norms are not like laws that may place you in prison when you disobey them. You need to please nobody but yourself. If you continue to worry about being disliked by people, you will forget to figure out what makes you likable and who adores you despite your flaws.
Wear Whatever You Want – It’s Nobody’s Business
When I was growing up, my parents only allowed me to wear mid-length dresses or baggy pants because I was naturally curvy, and they said I did not want to attract unwanted attention. They eventually let me put on fitted jeans and knee-length skirts when I became a teenager, provided that I wore hoodies or long-sleeved shirts to avoid accentuating my large bosom. Despite all that, I heard other moms criticizing my parents for letting me wear “provocative clothes.”
I could not help but feel ashamed of my body at the time. I thought that it was a curse to be born with a curvy body, so I started wearing gender-neutral clothes after that. I envied the petite girls in my school who could put on whatever they wanted, but I accepted my fate.
Note to young self: There is nothing provocative about long-sleeved tops, skirts, dresses, or even fitted jeans. Being sexy is not your fault, and you should not be afraid to flaunt it. After all, you are not using your body to flirt with guys or get anything you want.
See Mistakes As Learning Curbs, Not As Catalysts For The End Of The World
My parents typically scolded me for hours whenever I messed up at school or home. It did not matter if I merely forgot to fix my bed in the morning or got an A- in my exams instead of an A+ — they said that mistakes were unforgiveable. Hence, I always beat myself up for not doing everything correctly.
My dream of being perfect drove some of my friends away. Again, I was unhappy, but my parents’ opinions mattered more to me than anything. Whenever I failed, I called myself names and even thought of self-harming.
Note to young self: The world will not crumble when you make mistakes. It is normal to commit them, especially for teenagers who still don’t know how the world works. All you can do is learn from them.
I cannot turn back time and change every awful thing that happened when I was a teenager. But I choose to live my life however I want now, regardless of what others say about me.