15 Critical Things I Wish I Could Tell My 15-Year-Old Self

Hindsight is 20/20.

self-help courtesy of the author

In July, I turned 35. I'm not old, but I'm not a baby either. There is something serious to me about hitting this number, something I can't quite explain. It's similar to the way I felt when I turned 30.

On the morning of my 30th birthday, I opened my eyes and suddenly felt very comfortable and at home in my own body. Now, I can honestly say that thinking back to 20 years ago, I would not be 15 again if you paid me. Other people might might bemoan their youth, but I'm just now starting to feel like I've got a grip on this whole "being a reasonable and rational person" thing. 


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That doesn't mean I don't have any self-help or words of advice for my 15-year-old self. If I could go back and time and just give younger-me some advice, I would do that in a second, and I'd like to think that in the process, smooth out some of the hurdles that I had to jump as I progressed from adolescence into adulthood.

Of course, life doesn't always work that way. But just because I can't travel through time, that doesn't mean I can't potentially help another 15-year-old weirdo out there figure out how to make it through to the other side. To that end, here are 15 things I wish I could tell my 15-year-old self. 


1. Don't dye your hair. 

In the coming years you will dye your hair and then spend months and years of your life trying to grow it out, to strip it, to bleach it. You will do so much crap. So if you think dying your hair is going to transform your life, while it's a lot of fun, you aren't into beauty enough to deep condition it as much as it needs if you're going to insist on beating it into submission with every chemical product that you can possibly find. 

2. Men find you attractive. 

Hey, you know that guy who came up to you and told you that you were beautiful? The guy who asked you on a date? He did that because he wanted to go on a date with you, not as a joke to make you cry. I get it, you assume the worst, but you know something? You're beautiful as hell. 


3. You're not going to die a virgin. 

Sure, you're going to be a virgin for a long, long, long, long time. It's not because you're weird. It's not because there's something wrong with you. 

You won't  miss out on anything, you'll have a lot of amazing romantic experiences in your life, including some pretty major heartbreak. But relax, you aren't going to die unplundered. Your time will come! Hell, one day you'll actually have enough sex that you give other people advice about it! 

4. Do your homework.



Listen, you're so smart. But you're lazy as hell. It's stupid. It's pointless, and yeah, a lot of it you won't use. You have dreams about taking on the big city when you graduate, and if you continue to just do the bare minimum you will limit your own options in the future. 

That said, even if you screw up utterly, you'll still meet some of your best friends in college, I swear. 

5. Be nicer to your parents.

I know, you're very helpful, you're a good kid, but be patient with them! They are interested, they care, but they are also both working full-time job(s) and raising other kids and taking care of dad's dying parents. A random hug every now and then won't kill any of you. 

6. Be a teenager.

For the love god, please smoke pot and cigarettes and drink a little. Seriously. Don't be that rude straight-edge kid, you gutless wonder. Live a little! 


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7. Don't pick your skin.

I see you, popping those zits, digging out those blackheads. Give it a break! You've actually got really good skin! Take care of it and relax, it will all even out once puberty is over. 


8. Don't try out for the cheerleading squad.

You will be made the team mascot. This will haunt you. 

9. Be more defiant.

You're known for having a little fire in you — arguing with teachers, challenging the status quo. Hold on to that questioning spirit. Don't lose your passion; it's your center. 

10. Don't go to grad school.



I spent $120,000 that I don't have to get an advanced degree in playwriting. Look, if you want to move to New York, just move there; the student loan debt isn't worth it. 

11. Be good to your heart.

You have a great big heart, one you want to share with everyone, one you long to give away to one special person too. Not everyone deserves your heart. I won't say more (*cough* Greg *cough*) because we have to go through some tough stuff to make us who we are, but do your best to make sure you are trusting your big beautiful heart in worthy hands. 

12. Don't have sex with comedians. 

If you want to feel unsatisfied, irritated, and emotionally exhausted, try watching any adaptation of any novel by Henry James on the big screen. Or, you know, try to become emotionally intimate with a very anxious rubber tree plant. 

13. Let your freak flag fly.



You wanna LARP? Then LARP! You want to take up building miniature houses? OKAY GIRL, SMELL YOU. You worried you're about to say something too weird? LET THE STREETS KNOW. These aren't secrets to be hidden from "normies," they are parts of your personality aching to be released. 

14. Know who your friends are.

You know that feeling when you look around a room and suddenly realize that there isn't one person there who sees the world the way you do? It doesn't have to be that way.

Don't try to hang with the cool kids just because you want to be accepted. Trust that people just as awesome and dorky and kind as you are waiting to befriend you, and they don't want you to be anything other than who you are. 


15. Do not drink and text.

I cannot overstate this: you will want to text people while you are drunk. This is never, ever, not even ONCE a good idea. Get an app or something, hand your phone to a friend, or maybe do one less shot. Regardless, nothing good every came of tequila and scrolling through your contacts. 

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the love and dating advice show, Becca After Dark, on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.