By Jodi Teitelman
Being a teenager is hard. Your body is changing, your emotions are heightened, and the stress of college and impending young adulthood drives you crazy. Trust me, I’ve been there (I mean, we all have.) As someone not too far removed from her teen years, I often reflect back on the person I was in high school. Most often, these memories make me cringe. Why did I wear that outfit? What was I thinking with that Instagram caption? Who did I think I was? Even with these cringey memories in mind, I hold dear many more memories that are filled with love and laughter.
May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month, a month that, in all honesty, I didn’t know existed until recently. However, I’m glad that I learned about it because self-esteem, especially that of teenagers, is so incredibly important. Our teenage years are some of our most formative ones. During our teens, our identity and personality gets solidified and we start to grow into the person we will be for the rest of our lives. Sure, things can change, and they often do, but these years are some of the most defining and the ones we reflect on most often as we grow older.
So, with that in mind, here are a few lessons that I wish I could go back and share with my teenage self:
- Live in the moment. I was always the friend who would go to bed first at sleepovers and youth group conventions. On a typical school night, I would be in bed by 9pm and asleep by 10pm. Though this was great for my sleep schedule, I often felt like I missed out on important opportunities and conversations with my peers. I implore everyone, no matter their age, to live in the moment because FOMO (fear of missing out) is no fun and once opportunities pass, they may not reveal themselves again.
- Do what makes you happy. We are at our best, and make the greatest difference in the world, when we follow our dreams. Whether you grow up to be a doctor, teacher, or construction worker, you must prioritize your own happiness. You may be tempted or encouraged t0 overextend yourself and participate in activities that you think will get you into college and secure your future rather than ones that make you happy. What is most important is that you prioritize things that fulfill you. A happy life is a good life.
- Most importantly, prioritize you. Mental health is something we hear about and talk about all the time. Especially during your teenage years, your mental health really impacts your social and emotional well-being. So, please prioritize yourself and what makes you feel good. Surround yourself with those you love and with those who make you smile.
Though National Teen Self-Esteem Month is coming to an end, these are notions that should be considered all year long. And while you work on yourself, also take the time to make sure your teenage friends, family members, and classmates feel supported and loved. Because let’s face it, teens are the future – so when teens win, we all win.
Jodi Teitelman is a Health Educator at Jewish Community Services
JCS is a comprehensive human services organization providing a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.