Thursday, November 13, 2014

'cause we're young & we're reckless

Let's be honest, I just wanted to find some way to work in the lyrics of my current favorite song:
Blank Space by Taylor Swift. "'Cause you know I love the players, and you love the game!"

A former high school teacher reached out to me last week. Apparently, November is Career Awareness Month, and she was looking for alumni to provide a quote or advice to read over the intercom each morning of the month. A simple request that I was happy to oblige - but it prompted a question that’s so hard to answer in only a sentence or two.

If I could go back in time and give advice to my teenage self, what would I say?

The intercom version:

My best career advice is also my best life advice: Put others first. Whether it’s your customer or colleague, classmate or instructor, prioritizing your time to meet others’ needs will lead to the kind of success that’s worth having. (Inspiration credited to my current read: What’s Best Next.)

The blog post version:

Dear Teenage Jenny, 

Before you read another word, I need you to make me - older you - a promise. Promise me that you won’t use those pink and purple curlers that give you poodle hair, that you’ll never wear scented tampons and that if Coach asks you to be his teacher’s aid so you can practice your shot during 7th period, you’ll just say yes. Trust me, it will save a lot of trouble. 

But on a more serious note, there’s some things I really need you to know. Things that are more important than frizzy hair and free throws. Things that will shape who you are for the rest of your life. So listen closely.

#1 Be more available and less active.

One day your youngest brother is going to look you in the eye and complain because you were never around in high school, and it’s going to break your heart. I know you think all those clubs and activities are building up your college applications, but one day past graduation and it’s no longer going to matter that you were president of every acronym your school offered. Pick one or two activities that you truly enjoy and spend the rest of your time investing in others. 

#2 Focus more on relationships and less on romance.

I know you don’t want to hear this, but… he’s not “the one.” Sure, he’s cute and funny and pretty good at football, but in the end it just won’t work out. And it really doesn’t matter who “he” is, because this is really about you learning that your worth is not determined by who you date. Instead, take this time to learn how to be a friend - it’s a skill I have yet to master. And focus your efforts on serving your classmates. Look around - by your five year reunion, you’ll be able to count on two fingers the number of people you talk to on a semi-regular basis. Spoiler alert: He’s not one of them.

#3 Desire more of Him and less of you.

God’s in control. Not you. I’m still learning this lesson, so it would be great if you could give me a head start. The sooner you realize that everything you have and everything you do is by His grace and for His glory, the sooner you’ll experience the joy and peace that surpass all understanding. The sooner you start surrendering your plans and dreams to Him, the less devastated you’ll be when they all fall apart.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad for the clubs you’ve led, the boys you’ve dated and lessons you’ve learned and are still learning. After all, those decisions led you to where I am today - and that’s a pretty great place. God’s got a plan in store for you that’s far greater than any you could ever make for yourself. I know that sounds cliche, but it couldn’t be more true. Taking a little of this advice will just save you {and me} - and whoever may read this - a little heartache along the way.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
~Matthew 6:33

Early Twenties Jenny

What advice would you give your teenage self?

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