by Julie Price Davidson

How I would love to go back in time and observe myself in 1974. With 40 more years of life experience behind me, what would I say to that teenage girl? As the reunion approaches, I’ve had a few thoughts.

1. Listen to your parents.

Your mom and dad love you more than you can possibly imagine. You’ll understand the profound nature of their love someday when you become a parent. You may not realize it, but they both survived and actually thrived in high school. They’re on your side and they have a lot of wisdom to share. Take advantage of it.

2. These are some of the best years of your life – lighten up!

You’re in that brief period of time when you have some level of responsibility for yourself, plus freedom of choice, minus the stress of real adult problems. Enjoy it. (And college gets even better!)

3. Everyone’s in the same boat.

While all the kids at school look different on the outside, inside you’re all pretty much doing the same thing – craving acceptance. Keep this in mind.

4. True friendship is more important than any boyfriend/girlfriend.

Once that gender-based tension runs its course, you’ll be able to see others for who they truly are as unique individuals who can be there for you in good times and bad. This will become very important.

5. This too shall pass.

This may not feel helpful when you’re looking in the mirror at a hideous haircut or that certain boy has broken your heart. But believe me, it’s true; you just have no context for it at age 17.

And I guess that’s the missing ingredient in youth. Without context, all the wisdom in the world is kind of meaningless. Gaining it has been my favorite thing about aging – now I can recognize wisdom.

The promotional tagline for one of my favorite movies, 1977’s The Turning Point, was “The generations change. But the choices remain the same.” And in the last scene of the film, the two lead characters have an exchange about the teenage daughter of one:

Deedee: “Oh, Emma … if only she knew everything we know …”
Emma: “Deedee, it wouldn’t matter a damn …”

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