I remember being a teenager. I remember when everything was terrifying and scary and so much bigger than me. I remember trying so insanely to fit in with people who I thought were “cool”. I remember feeling like such a nerd because I didn’t follow all the trends. I remember dreaming to be someone else, somewhere else. I remember feeling ugly, fat, unwanted, unloved. I remember telling people I loved Jesus but not at all understanding what that meant for my life. I remember being stuck, being forced to stay in one place simply because of my age.
I always wanted to fit a label, something from pop culture always had to define me. My friends and I would constantly accuse each other of “copying” each other if we enjoyed the same things. We looked for our identity in our uniqueness but never realised that to be unique all we had to do was be ourselves (but no one figures that out while they’re still in school). I remember thinking that if I had more money and more possessions that my life would be better, I would be happier.
But, I’ll be honest with you… being a teenager will always suck, no matter who you are or how much money you have. Puberty has been awkward since the dawn of time and it isn’t going to change now. Finding who you are in this crazy, busy, fast-paced world, while you’re trying to sit all the exams school can throw at you, and keep your parents happy, as well as maybe having a part-time job, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a social life… it’s just not meant to be easy. But you’re going to come out of it a far better person. Some of you will, anyway. Some of you will, sadly, never grow up. But for those who leave their childish ways behind when you receive your final exam results, know this:
“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
When I was eighteen I knew that I had to dive in at the deep-end or I never would, so I moved to Scotland to study for four years. Four years that are now almost over. And the past three and a half have been nothing but life changing. If I hadn’t left home I would never have spent two summers in America, worked at a summer camp in Poland, I wouldn’t be applying for a TEFL course and I wouldn’t be looking into heading out to California for a few months this year. I wouldn’t enjoy pushing myself so much if I had never taken that first step.
I have always been a dreamer, and God doesn’t laugh at me for that, He encourages it. Because I have dreams and goals and ambitions God has allowed me to chase those things and reach my full potential. I am a far more well rounded person because I dream, and because I don’t treat them like all they are is dreams. And I refuse to let anyone belittle that.
What I’m trying to say is that just because you are young, don’t stop yourself from dreaming, don’t hide your heart from this world. Be passionate, be free! Because, no, right now you probably don’t have the funds or the time or the parental consent to travel half way across the world, but one day you just might. As the great songwriter John Mayer says, “I’m bigger than my body gives me credit for.” And you need to believe that! Because God uses the people who we think are the least likely to do His work. The example I always look to is Moses; he didn’t want to do what he was called to but God knew that he was the right one. And, through this one man who started off pretty scared, God did such amazing things.
When I look back to who I was on my first day of university I remember what is basically a child. I don’t remember the woman that I’ve grown into because I wasn’t a woman then. I was eighteen and scared and lost and unsure of everything around me and I didn’t have much direction, but that’s okay because no one really has direction when they’re eighteen. I would always get so nervous because I’d see all these really pretty girls in my classes, girls who dressed really well and had perfect make-up, while I was wearing jeans, converse and a hoodie, terrified to speak in case I gave the wrong answer. But, the truth is, those girls were as scared as me, they just hid it better. It’s nice to look back and know I’m not that scared kid any more.
God will take you to great places as long as you trust Him, so don’t fret if you’re struggling right now. Growing up is amazing and so much fun, so just be content in the moment.