Dear Teens,

Stop worrying about your skin and that pimple on your face. The sooner you stop caring about how your face looks, and letting the clearness of your skin define your self confidence and worth as a person, the easier the next few years are going to be. Listen to your mum about your skin, and not the Internet. No one will know your skin and what’s good for it better than your mum. Mother knows best.

It’s okay to not wear makeup. Right now, your friends are experimenting with make up they are definitely too young for, but that doesn’t mean you too should. You don’t need foundation and the perfect red lipstick just yet. The girls around you are growing up too fast, so don’t make the same mistakes they’re making right now. A few years from now, you will laugh your head off about their mistakes, and wonder why you ever wanted to look like that.

Boys don’t matter as much as you think they do. Not having a boyfriend is not the end of the world, and you definitely are not abnormal. You’re going to meet some amazing friends pretty soon who won’t have boyfriends either. You will provide comfort to one another.

Don’t cry about moving leaving behind your old life. Five years from now, you will be laughing with friends you would have never spoken to today, and thanking your stars that you moved, because its the best thing that will ever happen to you. You’ll drift apart from most of the friends you have now, but the friends that are supposed to stay will. As for the rest of them, wish them well and bid them goodbye.

Body hair is not the end of the world. You don’t need a smooth body to be accepted. You will have friends who have smooth bodies, but this does not mean you have to. Your body hair grows faster than others because of genetics, and no amount of with a razor or hair removal cream will change that. I know you feel like people are constantly looking at your not-so-hairless legs all the time, but no one cares as much as you think they do, and you shouldn’t have to either.

Being a “nerd” isn’t a bad thing. It means you care enough about your education and your parents’ investment in it to set about creating a better life for yourself through what you are learning at school. Sure, its awkward sometimes – being one of the only ones in class with their hand raised, and asking questions about every sentence that comes out of the teacher’s mouth, but that’s one of the great things about you. Other people might be looking bored and yawning, and texting under the table, but they’re not gaining anything. No amount of “cool cred” is worth sacrificing your education for.

Not having an iPhone is not the end of the world. The only calls you make are to mum and your friends. You can still play candy crush and edit pictures on your trusty Tecno.

There’s music beyond Justin Bieber and Korede Bello.  I will tell you this, start listening to music beyond the stuff that plays on the radio, and isn’t on MTV Naija Top 10. There’s no need to listen to artists just for the sake of having the same music taste as everyone else. Listen to your not-so-common music and be proud of it.

Right now you probably believe all your problems will magically disappear as you grow into the person you always wanted to be. The ugly truth is, the world doesn’t become any kinder. It gets tougher and tougher. But so do you. You’ll learn to cope as it comes, and you won’t be fighting your battles alone. Just keep being yourself, and never lose your ability to dream.

Sincerely,

A Former Teen

The original article first appeared in The Huffington Post