Our teen years don't last forever and whether that news elicits a sigh of sadness or a sigh of relief, it's our job to make the best of those years. So without further ado read below for a list of lessons to learn and things to do before you turn 20.
- Learn a skill
Increasingly more and more persons are supplementing their income from their 9-5 job with whatever they can gain from another job, whether it is a formal one or an informal one. Get ahead of the curve and spend some time learning and cultivating a skill now. Whether you choose to monetize it full time as an adult or make some pocket money from it now, or even if you decide to practice purely for the fun of it, there is no drawback to learning a skill. Start sewing, start baking, start making jewelry….or do whatever!
- Get elected for some kind of leadership role
Now is the time to test the waters and develop leadership skills, even if you don't think you're a natural born leader. Learning to be assertive without being aggressive, learning to command and return the respect of your peers and making contributions to your school, your class or your club will cultivate precious memories you can be proud of and will teach you lessons you'll need after 19 (if not before).
Beyond the endorphin rush that comes with paying it forward and making someone's day or week just a bit better, societies thrive when conscientious members look out for those around them. Find a way to be useful and lend a helping hand to someone in need.
- Visit as many parishes as you can
Whether you have the luxury or privilege of travelling internationally, playing dry land tourist on our beautiful island is a must do. From the tried and true tourist hot spots to the quieter, lesser-frequented rivers, beaches, villas, museums there is so much to see and so much to do. And don't be daunted – parish hopping is probably cheaper and easier to do than you think, just plan ahead!
- Assess your friend group
You've probably rolled your eyes at the old adage, “Show me your company and I'll tell you who you are.” I know I have. But it's true, and it's ridiculously easy to find yourself tethered to groups of people you don't even like. Don't wait 'til 20 or until university or adulthood or whatever else to assess your list of so-called friends.
Now that doesn't necessarily mean going ghost on friends you've had for years, but it should certainly mean asking yourself critical questions about the quality of the relationships you share with others and whether or not you've made a good choice in friends. Further, this assessment also requires brutal honesty with yourself on whether or not you've outgrown the friendship; if the link is weak at best; and if you've been doing all the work by yourself and calling this failed group project a mutual friendship.
- Make a new habit, break an old one
Get real, we all have some habits we need to kick and some good ones we'd love to pick up. While we're young and not as bogged down with responsibilities and pressures is as good a time as ever to do some introspection and kick that bad habit to the curb.
You've previously heard experts say that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, but since then some experts have suggested that it might actually take longer depending on how deep-rooted the habit has become. Don't get discouraged and don't fret. With will power, a little help from supportive friends or family members, and a dogged determination you can leave the person you don't want to be behind you and you will instead become the person you've always wanted to be.
- Learn to accept criticism and filter what's useful and what isn't
This is a big part of growing up and maturing as a human being as everyone's a critic but not everyone's criticism is useful or any good. Regardless, it's up to us to learn how to filter criticism and praise received so we don't end up big-headed or perennially sad and dependent on others' praise to be okay.
- Become an advocate (for yourself and for others)
Introverts, this one is especially for you. Remember it's not always the loudest voice that wins, and that even though it sounds illogical and it mightn't seem to be true every time, the pen is mightier than the sword.
Stand firm in your convictions. Be true to you. Look out for the little guy. Don't let anyone run roughshod over you, even as you continue to choose your battles wisely.
- Read 5 Caribbean classics
In my experience with reading, Caribbean classics are unmatched. With a certain descriptive flair and an air of relatability and honesty, Caribbean literature is the spoon full of sugar that makes the medicine go down.
- Realise that no one has it all figured out
Grownups don't have it all figured out so it's a lot to expect that you at 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 or 19 will have everything figure out. Figure things out on a case by case basis as you go.
- Forgive yourself for past failures or mistakes
- Address your insecurities
- Destroy (or work on destroying) your superiority/inferiority complex
- Recognise your privilege(s)
- Start figuring out who you are (as an individual – outside of family, friends, church or any other group you belong to)
That's it for our list of lessons to learn and things to do before you turn 20. Let us know in the comments down below or on any of our social media pages if you think we missed something or if any of these resonate with you.
Does the list seem like a tall order, don't worry about it. In the words of rapper Rico Nasty, “Your life is going to be lit. Stop downing yourself, stop doubting yourself, stop feeling sorry for yourself.” But start working on your tomorrow right now.