Authored by Tina Kapp
If you’ve seen 17 Again, Freaky Friday, or 13 Going on 30, you’ll know that all of these movies have a similar storyline: a teenager suddenly finds that they are a grown-up with a business to run or family to care for; or an older person becomes young again and gets a second chance at being a teenager. People probably like a story like this because they realize there are things that are very important to a teenager that aren’t all that important as one gets older. It may make them wish they could go back in time and tell themselves not to stress about some things and focus more on things that really do matter later in life.
I’ve read a few interesting articles where people wrote letters to their “teenage selves” and gave advice that they wish they had listened to when they were younger. I collected a few points I found were a trend in these types of articles, and I looked up what the Bible had to say about them.
—Don’t worry too much about being or appearing cool. Being “cool” requires you to act “cool,” so you end up acting just like other people who are also acting “cool.” Eventually, everyone is acting like someone else, trying to be someone they’re not. Just be yourself.
Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”1
It’s hard not to be affected by what your peers think and say. That’s a rather natural reaction. It’s important to focus on the things that make you who you are. Think about what you actually like, what’s important to you, what’s not okay for you, what goes against your faith—and then stick to your beliefs and morals.
—Don’t worry about not being the prettiest or most popular kid in your class or peer group. Boys and girls who “peak” too soon don’t always get a chance to develop a personality. Work on your personality first, and the rest will come in time.
Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting.”2
I know some people who may not fit society’s stereotype of what’s good looking, but they’ve never lacked for friends, happiness, contentment, and that special someone who adores them. The reason is their amazing personality; they have a way of making you feel comfortable around them. They also usually possess a great sense of humor, and they’re genuinely interested in people around them. I don’t know if you ever met a ridiculously good-looking person who couldn’t get enough of themselves, but when I meet someone like that, it makes me want to run for the hills lest I accidentally get between them and their mirror.
—If you find that you have a lot of time, don’t use most of it to watch TV or play computer games or to only “chill.” This might end up being your single biggest regret. Instead, put your efforts into learning or doing something constructive.
Proverbs 21:25 says, “The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.”3
Now, I definitely enjoy watching good TV shows, and I think you can even learn something from them every now and then; however, the point made about not wasting too much of your life on something like TV or gaming is valid. You hear about young entrepreneurs just out of high school who made millions through creating a website or business idea that was successful, or of someone who became famous because of their extraordinary skills. The similar thread in each of these stories is that all these people were passionate about something; they worked hard at it and spent a lot of their free time learning and improving. Time they wouldn’t have had if they had used too much of it watching TV or playing computer games.
—Learn the piano or the guitar. You’ll thank me later.
Proverbs 12:24 says, “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.”4
This verse might sound a bit harsh, but back in Bible times, life was pretty extreme and Solomon wanted to teach his lineage to rule well. His advice still rings true today. Maybe music isn’t your thing, but choosing a skill to focus time on daily, and perhaps eventually master, develops your aptitude for learning, which makes learning other things easier. Some skills, like learning another language fluently, could open interesting opportunities for you, such as allowing you to go to a country that uses that language as a missionary or getting a well-paid job where knowing that language is required. Not a shabby idea.
—Read a lot! The more you read, the smarter you get and the better for it you’ll be.
Romans 15:4 says, “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”5
That is speaking about God’s Word. In general, reading good literature helps you to develop your vocabulary and gain general knowledge, and studying God’s Word shapes your character, so it’s good to have a balance in both. Reading and studying the Bible gives you God’s perspective on situations and relationships; it gives you wisdom and insight and a host of good and bad examples to draw from.
—You’ll make some great friends over the years. Make an effort to be a good friend in return.
Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.”6
I think we all want someone we can trust, whose company we enjoy, and who is a good listening ear when we’re discouraged, or who offers a helping hand when we need one. It’s important once in a while to stop and think of how you can be a better friend. See who might need your help or some cheering up on occasion, and be that friend that they can count on. A true friend is priceless.
It’s sometimes hard to look ahead or think about the future when you’re young. Having fun and looking good often seems more important than anything else. I know that was certainly the case for me, and I do wish that I would have been aware of all this great advice then. But as most people do, I learned mostly through trial and error. Learning from experience is not always a bad thing. In fact, perhaps, for the most part, that’s how God intended for us to learn. But if any of this sounds like good advice, give it a try. Take a few shortcuts and be that “wiser person” who learns from the mistakes of others, and hopefully you’ll open a few doors for yourself that are worth walking through.
1 New International Version
2 New International Version
3 New King James Version
4 New International Version
5 New International Version
6 English Standard Version
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2013 by The Family International