rebelling against low expectations

Three Things I Would Tell My Teenage Self


I am now 22 years old, 3 years removed from being a teenager.

Looking back, I got some things right and some things wrong. But with life, you don’t have time to dwell in the past. Instead, you must embrace the failures, learn from the experience, and move forward stronger.

Still, I wonder. My mind wanders to the “what-ifs”. What if I could go back in time and talk to my teenage self? What would I say?

That is why I wrote down 3 things I would share with teenager-me:

1. Realize You Do Not Have It All Figured Out

By 18 years old, I had finished college and planned my life out. This was going to be easy since I was so far ahead of all my peers. With confidence, I stepped out and…

Hit the “reality threshold”. Life. You have to love it.

There was one small hole in the hull of my ship called “life”. No matter how fast you’re sailing toward those dreams, this fatal flaw threatens to sink your ship as well.

Mistake #1: Thinking you are more mature than you actually are.

As a teen, you can do harder things and take on bigger responsibilities than you realize. You can impact the world. At the same time, realize that you are not as mature as you think.

When the reality of my naiveness hit me in the face, it deflated my pride and left me confused. I had big plans! I was mature and ready! What was going on? In hindsight, God was using hurricane-level measures to wake me up. I needed to see my mistake and then be redirected, reshaped, and refined.

Sometimes, only a scary storm can show you that.

Yes. I’m looking at you, Jonah.

2. Find People More Mature than Yourself

I once met this man who was 30 years old. Whoops. I meant 16 with the maturity of a 30-year-old. At least that is what he told me. If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is ask him.

I tried to see this young man from the perspective of the older people who surrounded us. He looked ridiculous and arrogant. Then I realized something – at one time, this was me. Hopefully not as obnoxious, but I was guilty.

The sad truth is that this kind of immaturity is not just ridiculous – it is dangerous. Ask Rehoboam.

“But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him.” – 1 Kings 12:8

That decision split his father’s kingdom.

Mistake #2: Thinking you do not need mature people in your life.

You need experienced, mature people in your life. You need mentors and wise counsel. But the moment you think you’re mature enough, these people will not:

  • Invest their time and presence in your life
  • Take your passions and dreams seriously
  • Give you wisdom and advice

Because why should they? Find those people who are more mature than you and be open to what they have to say.

You might learn something life-changing.

3. Be Willing to Redirect

God loves when:

  • People dream bigger dreams than themselves
  • Teenagers set goals that defy the world’s expectations
  • Young people pursue plans that glorify Him

Here is the reality: that one dream you want to pursue is not always where God wants you to go. It may not be because your dream or goal was bad. Often times, it comes down to your dream not being big enough.

Mistake #3: Thinking you know exactly where you are going in life.

David had a crazy dream to build the most beautiful temple possible for God. Come on, how could God not be on board with that?

But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: It is not you who will build me a house to dwell in.’” – 1 Chronicles 17:3-4

Plan. Blown. Up.

Why? How could God do that? Solomon would later build the temple his father envisioned. The problem was that David’s dream was too small compared to God’s glorious, infinite-sized plan.

…the LORD will build you a house. – 1 Chronicles 17:10

A Satan-crushing, forever-standing kingdom sounds like a bigger, better plan to me. Be willing to redirect to God’s plan. Then you will realize what God knew all along – your dreams were never big enough anyway.

In Summary

If you are willing to:

  1. Be humble
  2. Be teachable
  3. Be open

God will do incredible things in your life that you never dreamed of. That is what I would tell my teenage self.

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Photo courtesy of Lesley Choa via Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Samuel Byers

Samuel Byers has been a bookworm since he could pick a book up. Now, he tries to write his own stories. He also drinks too much tea.

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rebelling against low expectations

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