If there was any way possible, I would put the following list into candy form, create an enticing, sweet-smelling edible delight of some kind and present it on a silver platter on the desk of each teenager I know. Alas, I cannot, but I can talk to my 125 students and try my best to lead by example. Just as I reflected using perfect hindsight with respect to my single life, I have taken all my high school teacher observations and created a list of the top five pieces of advice I wish all my students would learn and apply to their lives…starting now.
- You know how you heard about the chastity belt in World History class and you all snickered and thought, “People were crazy back then”? While the idea may seem insane, the concept of “lock it up and throw away the key for a long, long time” isn’t all that nutty. Enough said.
- Birds of a feather flock together. –Old adage Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres. –Cuban grandparents everywhere You hang with dogs, you catch fleas. –My brother There are a million ways to say it: Your friends’ actions, personalities, habits and choices influence you in every way…in both the obvious ways and the not-so-obvious ways. As one of my friends and colleagues says, says, “You’re teenagers, you’re still molding your consciences.” If your conscience is being molded aside the conscience of Little-Miss-Loose or Little-Miss-Slacker, what do you think your Jiminy Cricket will become?
- When you look in the mirror and are tempted to pull at your belly skin or suck in your cheeks to look thinner, stop yourself. If you would like to improve your health by losing weight, please do so in a healthy manner. Developing an eating disorder seems like a quick fix and may feel like it’s something you’ll just do for a little while; in truth, it is neither. Exercise, try to make healthy choices…and just enjoy being a teenager.
- Look, sometimes parents are going to be annoying, but I am willing to wager 9.9 out of 10 that they really just want the best for you. Just like teenagers aren’t perfect, adults make mistakes all the time. But what you can be sure of is your parents’ love for you. And maybe your parent isn’t your mom or dad, but your Abuela or Tia or maybe even your older sibling. The same unconditional love applies. Listen to their advice. Respect their limits. Make them your friends; no love is greater.
- This is the most carefree time of your life. Live it up. Aim HIGH…HIGH…HIGHER than you ever thought you would. The world is in the palm of your hands.
Me, your teacher