Tips for Teens from an almost 30 “girl”

On how to live a life well-spent and well thought-out, from the perspective of a 29-yr-old

friend poking my eye

friend poking my eye

In this order: Academics/career, then dating

ACADEMICS/CAREER

1)Calvin and Hobbes is awesome for many reasons, but it is actually a great place to find your PSAT words (Is that still what they are called, I wonder?) Anyways, I used to use lines from Calvin and Hobbes to get bonus points for finding PSAT words in English. If you can’t get points, you can at least increase your vocabulary with it and get some great laughs.

2) You are now in the age range where adults in your life expect you to start making decisions about your adult life-even though you are young and should still listen to their advice, make sure you are thinking through what you will want to prioritize in your life too. Some things to consider that I don’t think people always encourage young people to do: If you are thinking about what kind of career to get into (which you do have to consider sooner or later since what college courses you will take are largely decided by the career field you choose..), talk to people who are already in the career field to find out not only about the job and what schooling it took to get there, but also what their lifestyle looks like because of the job. Does the person you are interviewing have a family yet? Do you want to have a family? Do people in that particular career field work weekends, evenings, 40 hour weeks, or more like 60-hour weeks? Does it require travel often, and is that something you would feel okay with? this may not be a popular thing I am telling in the eyes of the parents’ of some teens because sometimes considering these things and trying for a career that would be more conducive to having time for a family might (or might not) mean less pay, or less prestige. Some parents might get a little carried away with that. Here is the point, though: Your future IS YOUR future, so pray about it, research, and talk to multiple people. If you are able to work part-time as a student in the career field you are considering, that is also a great way to find out behind the scenes information.

3) If and when you go to college, some advisors are not good at their jobs. Know ahead of time what classes are important for you to take (besides general education)

4) Speaking of general education, aka “gen eds”, it really is okay to take some of those at a different school if it is cheaper. Some people would rather go off and have a “college experience” and live somewhere different, etc right away. That was me. I don’t necessarily regret it although it would have saved some money, but I had a great time in my less busy years of college. (Clean, non-destructive fun, mind you.) A lot of people wouldn’t mind doing their genereal education classes at a “commuter college”, though.

5) This is both educational as well as dating-ish advice: If you have a test, but there’s also an enticing person you want to chat up the same evening/day…STUDY. Especially if you have a final the next day..Coming from someone who got a B…yes a B…in ART APPRECIATION..after flirting with some guy I’m most certainly not married to, never really dated and therefore is mostly a reminder that I got …a B in ART APPRECIATION (facepalm, to use slightly younger lingo) ha. Oh, and if you study and get a B in art appreciation, I’m not trying to be negative but I DID have an A (an easy A), and the lack of studying the night before the final resulted in my grade being brought down to a B.) So a good segue into the next section, which is….

DATING/FRIENDS/SPIRITUAL

I remember a leader at church suggesting that there isn’t much reason for teens to date at all, but I wouldn’t make the statement not to, personally; after all, my in-laws were highschool sweethearts and are still married after all these years. It can happen. The church leader was correct, though that statistically speaking, most people these days do not end up marrying who they start dating in highschool. I think this is mostly due to how many changes teens go through in their tastes, maybe beliefs, and directions in life (geographical and otherwise) Aside from this, though, even if you were to look into the future and know for certain your highschool girlfriend or boyfriend is the one you will marry, there are good reasons to do the following:

5) Spend most of your free time with your friends, rather than your girlfriend or boyfriend. This is not just old lady Natalie talking to you, but the teen Natalie as well. Back then, I could see the value in spending most of my time with friends and family during the teen years. They are the last that you will likely have to just hang out and do a lot of something and a lot of nothing (which can be just as much fun) with friends. Don’t panic, the twenty-something’s with children do still make time for friends so your life won’t be OVER when you have a family, but I will be honest and say that it is MUCH harder when you have a family and a job (or without one, often) to make time for friends. You will look back on your teen years and miss how easy it was to have with your friends-probably not as much your boyfriend or girlfriend, because you are either no longer together OR you married your bf or gf and see him/her everyday! When kids are sick or job schedules clash, you will appreciate how much time you spent with your friends in your teen years (and same goes for after teen years, too.)

6) If your parents are a little lax on rules for dating (Mine surely weren’t, but I know those parents are out there! Sometimes there are even you teens who get yourselves to church and parents have a completely different worldview. I know non church-goers may have strict dating rules for their children as well, but I’m talking to you kids who have to draw your own boundaries because your parents do not.) Have some boundaries of your own and get an adult and/or a friend to hold you accountable to these. (Boundaries as in how late you stay out, how long you are alone, what is and is not involved in your physical contact, etc.)

7) If you do want to date in highschool, or anytime, ever, a good rule of thumb is to see the person you are dating in different contexts: their family, their friends, your friends, school, churchgoer friends, non churchgoer friends..Someone can seem as sweet as can be one-on-one. Anyone can be fooled one-on-one, especially if you are attracted to someone.

8) If you are a Christian, don’t date someone who isn’t. The Bible says it,(2 Corinthians 6:14-“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”) and it does make sense. I’m afraid some people might think this means Christians who will not date non-Christians (or even those who don’t seem invested in their relationship with God-don’t read Scripture or pray, don’t attend church, don’t consider the Scripture when making life choices, etc.) think they are BETTER than those who are not Christians (or not very “invested Christians”, whatever you want to call it. Some of my friends would probably term it “religious”, so lets say maybe someone believes in God, but aren’t too sure or not concerned with how that plays out in their lives. They aren’t “religious.”..Christians-true to God’s Word-do NOT think they are BETTER. This is not why someone would choose to not date a non-Christian. It is about each others’ lives getting off-track because there isn’t a common goal. That is very important in marriage, whether people want to admit it or not. There will be compromise, resentment, and more compromise. And possibly guilt. Sometimes the other becomes a Christian and then both are on the same page and that is wonderful, but that is not what God calls us to do. Many in the Church refer to this “no-no” as “missionary dating.” Christians, don’t try to be a missionary in your dating life by dating someone hoping to win them to Christ because chances are, you will have a broken heart when it doesn’t work, and you will hurt the person you are dating as well. You aren’t in the business in changing who people are, God is. If they say they’re a Christian, that doesn’t mean you are right for each other, either. Use number 7 tip to help you determine how compatible you are.

So back to this “We don’t think we are better” deal as a sidebar..the Scripture teaches that there is none who is “good” (Romans 3:12), but it is only by God’s grace that Christians are forgiven their sins by accepting forgiveness and having a relationship with God through Christ, living their lives for his purpose. The decision to live for God, though, can be sidetracked if joined in such an intimate bond of marriage without your partner running the same race (1 Corinthians 9:14) as you. It only makes sense. And you may be thinking,

“Wait? Marriage? I’m just thinking about dating, I’m a teen!”…what’s the point in dating if you absolutely would not consider marrying this person, ever? That is the point of dating, otherwise it is a waste of time (sorry, but its true!).

So A) If you are a Christian wanting to follow God’s word on His design of marriage, don’t even consider dating someone who isn’t a Christian. B) Don’t date someone if you would immediately say “no” if you ask is it someone you could ever hypothetically marry someday.

I hope #8 was clear…by all means, if you have questions about what I meant or what the Bible says on the matter, by all means message me or Comment on the blog, whatever you feel comfortable with.

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