7 Things I’d Tell My Teenage Self

This is a video for teenagers.

It’s the beginning of a new school year, and so for this week’s video I wanted to things that I know I would have benefitted me as a teenager.

What would you tell yourself if you could go back?

Here are the 7 things I’d tell my teenage self…

1) Take risks

Try new things. We’re always going to be able to talk about the things we did, but never able to talk about the things we didn’t do.

We tend to carry on in school the way we started. It’s easy for an identity to be created by the way that other people see us. Don’t let yourself get pigeon-holed.

2) Be careful who you’re trying to impress

There are people right now (whether consciously or unconsciously) you’re trying to impress.

Be very careful about this.

If you could see where these people were going to be in ten years time, I guarantee you would re-evaluate who you’re trying to impress.

3) Trying to get invited to the party doesn’t get you invited to the party

One of my big insecurities in school was wondering whether or not I’d be invited to parties.

Being invited to parties is the byproduct of being the type of person that other people want to spend time with.

Focus on being someone that other people love spending time with.

4) Ignore people’s first reactions

When we do something new, we fear people are going to look at us strangely.

People who get acceptance are the ones who don’t need it.

If there’s something you want to do, do it regardless of what others might think. When you ignore their reactions, you’ll get over the initial period of discomfort and to a point where they accept how you now are.

5) School can suck

A lot of school is doing things you don’t want to do.

Studying things you don’t want to study, hanging around people you don’t want to hang around, listening to teachers you don’t want to be around…

And a myth in life is that that all changes; that when you begin doing what you love, you’ll be able to stop doing things you don’t love.

Sadly, it doesn’t quite work like that.

I’ve found in my life that even though I do the thing I love more than anything else in the world, there are plenty of things I still have to do that aren’t things I love.

The art is finding a way to enjoy whatever it is you’re doing.

When you’re doing the things you don’t want to do, can you figure out new ways of enjoying doing those things?

If you can, you’re going to be happy for the rest of your life.

6) See everything as a stepping stone

Many people resent jobs they do because they don’t feel they’re getting them closer to where they want to be.

The most successful people I’ve met have done a number of different jobs that had nothing to do with where they ended up.

But rather than viewing these things as a waste of time, they saw everything as a stepping stone.

Don’t fret that right now you’re going into something that isn’t exactly where you want to be.

The wrong job before the job you’re passionate about can have been the right job at the time. The wrong job can be a blessing when it teaches you more about what you want and where you want to go.

7) Enjoy being young, but think like an adult

When you’re a teenager, people are trying to lay down all sorts of rules around you.

But an adult treating you like a kid doesn’t mean you have to rebel like a kid.

You can still make the smart choice, by doing what’s best for you.

Don’t rebel just because you want to get back at someone.

You need to go out and mess up. Just stay within the realm of making mistakes that you can recover from. Make mistakes that aren’t going to kill you or stop you from building the future you want to have.

So there you have it. My 7 tips.

Leave a comment below to let me know what you think!

And if you’re an adult, leave a comment with the one thing you would tell your teenage self that you know would have made life better.

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268 Replies to “7 Things I’d Tell My Teenage Self”

  • Hey Matthew! First of all, I want to thank you so much for this video; I am going to have my son watch it (14 yo going into high school). It’s everything I want to say to him, but without the arguments and the rolling of the eyes. :) Just perfect! You are awesome… <3

    Thanks again!

    The one thing that I did as a teenager was rebel against my parents, I would tell my teenager self not to pull that crap…it's not worth it in the end. ;)

  • I would tell myself that the popular “cool kids” that have boyfriends and girlfriends at age 13 often wind up being parents at age 16, and/or losers at age 22, and not to get upset about not having a boyfriend at that age. There are just so many more important things to concentrate on while growing up that one misses when worrying about love and looks. Heck, why worry about love when you’re a teen..that’s what the rest of your life is for! (LOL)

    Got the GTG book from your staff! Thank you so, so much. Poured through it on the Sabbath, so have to go back through it and watch those videos. It gave me a lot of food for thought about my current relationship and determining values and where we match….still working on it. I see that there are areas where I didn’t interpret him as matching me because he doesn’t express a value (such as commitment) in the same way I do. A real eye opener. Looking forward to Keep the Guy. (The issue of values, btw, is something parents should talk about with their kids when they have a dumpy boyfriend or girlfriend.)

    Thanks much!


  • I am a parent of 2 young girls and I LOVE this video. I would add: Do the thing you most want to do, but are most afraid of doing (as long as it doesn’t contradict #7 of yours). This is my new compass….and it always leads me to my biggest successes and largest lessons (some major failures too, but these are my best stories, as you pointed out). If I had followed this as a teenager, I would be way ahead in knowing myself, and would have achieved far greater things.

    I have enjoyed watching my girls doing some of these things recently, and it’s so rewarding to watch them come into their own… I hope they continue as they get to become teenagers.

  • One thing I would say myself:

    Don´t think too much. I explain myself: there are too kind of teenagers, the ones that don´t think too much the things they do and the ones that thinks too much about everything. I would say myself that over analyzing everything is not the smart thing to do even though it may seem like it is.

      1. Of couse, xD. I´m not saying to my teenage self not to think at all. Just not over analize. Teenager out there: be sure I´m not saying to you to not think and just act. Be smart as Mr. Hussey says.

  • And by the way: great video. Congratulations. I think your presence in Plain Jane can make you be closer to the teens ans be a really good influence.

  • Hello Matthew! As a new school year is upon us, I am starting my first year of teaching. This video has in a way calmed some of my nerves. As a first year teacher, I know that not everything will go as planned and I will make some mistakes. I love how you said that it is okay to make mistakes, just not major ones. I agree with you that planning can suck. The last thing I want to do when I get home from school is to plan for two hours.

    On another note, I would tell my teenage self to not to be so mentally invested into trying to have a boyfriend. If a boy asks me out, great. If not, it is not the end of the world.

  • I would tell myself, to understand that sometimes love is not enough, respect and understanding are just as important. I would also say sometimes mean girls grow into mean women and don’t worry so much about them, they are just unhappy and will most likely always be that way.

  • Today’s my 17th birthday and i just watched this video. I felt very inspired afterward, as always. Thank you for giving me this great advice. You are such a role model for me and I feel I have been shaping myself more as a person just by watching your videos, writing down important points from what you are saying, and trying to apply them to my life ASAP. You are an amazing person for doing what you do in the way that you do it. Thank you!

    1. Happy Birthday Victoria! So glad you could spend it with us ; )
      Thanks for the comment, it’s really sweet. Glad to hear you’re taking action! Take care and have an amazing day birthday girl!!

      Matt x

  • Dear Matthew!

    I’m a girl from the Netherlands and I’m turning 17 in a few weeks. My last boyfriend was somebody who did not respect my opinion nor my body. In the end I realized that I had to make a choice that would be best for me, even though I was in love with him, so I left him. I’ve been watching your videos a lot lately and I’m feeling a lot better now. I feel a lot more secure about my myself and thank you for helping me with that. I now believe everyone should be with someone who loves them for all they are and respects them ;) Keep going!


  • Hey Matthew :)

    I just want to say thank you for this video but mostly for the Get the Guy book!! I have been following nearly everything and a great guy to my standards is so interested in me!
    I arranged a casual meet up and he agreed!
    He has had his first kiss though and I haven’t ever. Should that put me off wanting to date him? I want it to be both our first kisses, but our personalities match so well!
    He’s blonde and I am dark and oriental ;)

    Help! Thank you x Emilia

    1. Hi Emilia : )

      Thanks so much for your comment and glad you’ve enjoyed the book! I would say that if that is the only thing you’re worried about, not to let that stop you from at least meeting with him! We sometimes set funny rules for ourselves that don’t have a huge hand in the overall outcome of something. Now if this is so important to you that it’s something that you value to your core ie. a standard, then you should think about that. But ultimately you need to ask yourself, is it a rule or a standard that you both have your first kisses together, and go from there : )

      Matt x

  • Note to Teenage self:

    Sitting around getting insecure about stuff you can’t change is stupid
    Change what you want if it bothers you; Plastic surgery isn’t that scary
    Don’t waste time on bulimia! It messes up your insides. Just be smart instead,
    Oh, and things really do get fucking better. You have no idea :-)

  • Hey Matt!

    I would say to myself: Don’t put to much pressure on yourself. Try to aim for the following, the person you become must be the result of you own conscious choices, not the random circumstances you experience. Face your fears. Enjoy yourself and seize the day!

  • I love this video!!! I think the one thing I’ll tell my 17th year old self (on top of everything you said) is to STOP playing mental games to put myself down. I used to say everything that was wrong about myself first because I refused to accept a compliment or even admit I was good at something. I feared I would have appeared arrogant! I took it to an extreme that in the end I ended up believe how “bad” I was instead of how much progress I was making. I wish I would have taken more action instead of living every single one of my nightmares over and over again inside my head.

  • Hi Matthew,
    I have to say, for someone as young as yourself, you are wise beyond your years. I loved reading your book and I love watching your videos. Truly inspiring. I have followed your awesome advice and it has been working BUT I seem to have run into a problem. How do you know if you’re being too picky or if you’re just not settling. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this.


    1. Hi Paula,

      Thanks for the lovely comment, really appreciate it! When it comes to being too picky vs settling, I think it comes down to what are your rules vs. what are your standards. If a guy isn’t living up to your standards, core values that your hold for yourself, then I think you’re in the clear, this would be not settling. But if you find yourself tossing guys aside for more frivolous and easily changeable rules (which still fall inline with your standards!) then maybe take a step back to reevaluate the situation. Hope this helps! Take care : )

      Matt x

  • yeah, i would have told myself to not care about what others think about me, taken more risks. I was somebody that people wanted me to be all the time. Maybe that is why I am like a rebel to the world now, But I know who I am now, don’t care what people think, don’t care what they say, And i am taking more risks than ever with my dreams. And now that I have started standing up for myself saying if there is something I don’t accept when people talk to me in a bad way, I say “hey, don’t talk like that to me, or do that! ” And i feel i am gaining more respect as a person now, some may say when they don’t like what they hear mE SAY: ” sHE IS MEAN OR SOMETHING… But I am just putting out there for what i accept and don’t. And people have been starting to respect me more. feels good :)

    1. Hi Michelle, thanks for the comment : ) It’s always important to take risks and stand up for ourselves, but be careful not to feel as though you have to be on the defensive all the time.


  • Matt, you get stuff across so well!

    With the stepping stone thing…
    How do you see something as a stepping stone when you feel depressed in the process? I have been so held back because I feel I must make the perfect decision, it must be the perfect college, the perfect job.
    How do I just relax and now get so overwhelmed?

    1. First off, thank you Betty : )
      Second, although it is great and important to know where you want to end up, it is equally important to be able to see what’s right in front of us as well. Getting too consumed with the big picture is most definitely overwhelming. Compartmentalize. Take each stepping stone as it comes and put your all into it. Breath and focus on the now because that is ultimately what is going to get you to later ; )
      Take care lovely.

      Matt x

      1. You’re very generous in your replies.
        I like this new, more considerate style.
        The Gods do talk to the mortals after all

  • Thanks so much! This video is what I needed! I’m an incoming freshman in college and it’s so crazy! There are parties galor and so many guys some that are just not for me and others I feel I could get to know. This really helped bring in my new school year! I’m so nervous but here’s to a new start and a new adventure! Thanks so much Matthew! :)

  • Love this so much!! And really needed it. I am 16 and after watching this, I really see how trapped I’ve sort of been. I have been staying the same since I was in 8th grade because I’ve been afraid what other people would think of me. I want to be more out there and make new friends and do new things but I have always been scared what others would say about me if I did. I have always been scared of having to explain to my friends why I am all of the sudden being more outgoing and less shy and predictable. This year I really want that to change though. So without further ado, my goals for this school year:
    Be more social and start saying yes more. Even if I end up going someplace or doing something by myself without my friends I need to start being more active and work on my communication skills.
    Thank you so, so, SO much for this!!!

  • This video was exactly what I needed to hear right now! I’m 19, I just started at a new college and I’ve been feeling like I’m not where I’m “supposed to be” and unhappy about it. In the video you talk about finding a way to enjoy the things you dislike and viewing whatever situation you’re in as a stepping stone. Those were really powerful messages that helped me reevaluate my current situation. So thank you! Your words of wisdom are truly helpful and inspiring.

    1. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be because at the end of the day we can learn something from everything : ) Thanks for the comment Kayleigh and good luck this year!!


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