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This is something I wrote, with hopes to have it printed in the school newspaper next year. For those of you still in high school, please listen to some of the advice. For those of you out of your teen years-lucky you, and now you can just look back and laugh.

The teenage years may very well be the hardest, especially socially. Our bodies are changing, along with our hormones, and emotions can change very quickly. Perhaps the hardest thing is fitting in. Being accepted by your peers. It’s a constant struggle, where some people come out on top and an entire range falls behind them.

What we know as popularity is actually self-imposed if you stop to think about it. Some people are popular because they have a great personality and everyone likes them. But others form a group, and do everything to act as though they are better than their peers. For some reason, many look up to these people, believing that they would be so much happier if they could be like that.

It’s easy to say “always be yourself.” But when so much is changing, it’s hard to know who you really are. You wonder if you would be happier if you wore the latest, most expensive clothes, or if you went to the wildest parties, or if your friends were those people who presently ignore you. In reality, perhaps one or more of these things may turn out to be what makes a teen happy. But in many cases it turns out to be not as great as you may have thought it to be. Or you’ll look back and have an uneasy feeling about the way you behaved yesterday.

The only way to stay true to yourself is to do what feels right to you. Whether it’s a popular choice with your friends, or if it means not having as much fun one night, or even forgetting about the way your peers view you. You may find that you’re happy just having your own kind of fun. What others say or think is trivial, because you likely won’t ever see them again after high school.

Adolescents are extremely judgmental. It’s immature, but the large majority of people naturally judge everyone around them. Many are not tactful enough to keep their opinions to themselves and actually learn what the person is like. It hurts feelings, it keeps people from becoming friends or going out, and can make being a teen the most miserable time of your life.

To truly be happy during your high school years you should not only try to make yourself happy, but be considerate of others. A simple smile, compliment, or conversation can brighten a day. But giving disapproving looks, spreading rumors, and passing judgment can only cause pain. Keep in mind that everyone is struggling with classes, friends, family, and many other issues. Caring about the feelings of others will benefit everyone, because they will likely pay you the same courtesy. Too often people forget or ignore others’ feelings, and that’s what truly makes it hard to be a teen.

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