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, loving your videos!

    Wow, if I could talk to my teenage self I would tell her not to care about what peoples perception is of her. To carry on being your quirky unique self because the people that care about you will love you regardless. Most of all not to base your attractiveness on how other people treat you, no matter what anyone will tell you are beautiful inside and out. :)

  • Hey Matt! I’m a HUGE fan! I’m 22 now and have gotten your man myth, book and been to your seminar. Love all your stuff! Works like a charm :) And I really like your new shift of topic outside dating. I think all of us could learn from these lessons. I will definitely be keeping them in mind throughout this school year. Thanks and keep up the great work!

  • Hey Matt,
    Your videos are my Sunday pleasure. I trust your knowledge completely. Some sentences you`re telling us are marked yellow on my notes. These are the ones which speaking to me and which I am going to tell myself if I`m in the situation where I need them. Thank you for your effort to make these videos such positive ones with great energy. Cause these are great examples for me how much people can give in a conversation, how much better I could do. I have to take more risk and give people more from me. I am going to start to let my wall down. We all want to do better and I want for this week to jump over my shadow and start to speak with strangers. By the way I`m 17 from Switzerland and I am so glad I`ve found you and can grow up with you. You`re my sunday rock. I thank god for you. Have the best week.

  • If I could tell myself one thing, just one, it would be to love myself – truly, wholly and unconditionally. Everything else would stem from this and it’s a lesson that I knew, I knew it deep down, but I didn’t have enough love in myself to apply it.
    Once I love(d) myself – only then can I even hope to give love to others. Any relationship I have, whether it’s personal or professional – how can I give love, sincerely, when I myself don’t love the only person that is there for me through thick and thin? All too often, we’re amazing at preaching to others – yet, to our own selves, we can be the most stubborn of people who refuse to listen to the very advice we give. If I love(d) myself, I can then identify what really makes ME tick – not what I think others expect, not what they do expect, not even what ‘I’ expect of myself. No. Not any of that – instead, what is in my genes – what can I do that will give me happiness, first and foremost? Only then can I share happiness with others. What can I do that will help me? Only then can I help others. What can I do that will enrich my experiences? Only then can I enrich the experiences of others.
    It all boils down to me – and for far too long, I thought it was selfish to focus on yourself. I felt narcissistic even, vain and shallow. If I could go back, I would remind myself that my body, my mind, my everything – it deserves the best, just like I would want to give to anyone else. I didn’t choose my body, my mind – anything, I was just given what I have. To really enjoy life, I would remind myself that success isn’t defined by meeting people’s expectations or ‘fitting in’. Although I’ve just entered my adult years (having said goodbye to my teens on June 19th!) I would remind myself that my body is my own, my life is my own. Whilst things will (and have) come in my path to almost direct me into a u-turn in my life – that’s still an experience, that’s still a memory and that’s still something that’s part of me and no one else. So, to my teen self – whilst you might get told, left right and center, that you’re a failure – that you don’t ‘belong’ or that you aren’t worth anything – be proud that you’ve held your high up so far. Be hopeful – things won’t get ‘better’ or ‘easier’ – those are all subjective adjectives but be hopeful that you will have the understanding and strength to at least mould life, even a little bit, to how you want to live.

    Oh – and stay smart. It’s sexy and no one will tell you this. You’re incredibly gifted, amazingly bright but you just lost sight along the way. Now it’s the time to sharpen your vision and know that the ‘important’ things now will just be stories, memories and perhaps even completely forgotten one day. Let go of the present and reign in the future – if you do, by the time the future IS your present you’ll be working still, I assure you, but you’ll be much more likely to enjoy it.

    And above all else, my teenage self, know that I love you. I may not show it particularly well but I do. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to show you properly – so make sure you work for that day to reap the rewards.

  • Enjoyed this video and you words of wisdom. It was also a trip down memory lane.

    I laughed at #3. It brought a funny and awkward moment back. I would probably add my own rule – Don’t go to parties you are not invited to. In high school, we had parking stickers to be able to park on campus. There were usually parties going on most weekends but of course not being part of the “in crowd” we didn’t always know about them. Sadly, we drove around one weekend night looking for the sure sign of a high school party. The long line of cars with high school stickers parked on the side of a road. My two best friends and I psyched ourselves up to crash this party. Needless to say when we walked in, it was very awkward with what seemed to be the whole room of people looking at us. We tried to blend in by finding an available place to stand. The only place left was under these hanging potted plates. If I were to say to these two friends today, remember the potted plant party (the nickname) they would probably laugh and groan at the same time.

    On a side note, I wanted to mention I would never realize how you edit and crafted your presentations looking for the right word. When I came to your book tour in SF, you presentation appeared effortless. I have managed speakers for 7 years, so anytime I hear someone speak, I naturally study their style. You are a very good speaker :)

    1. Haha but see how great is that story and memory! You took a chance and are better for it ; )
      Thank you for the kind words! Really appreciate it : )
      Take care Wendy,

      Matt x

  • First of all, thank you for your videos Matthew and your team!. I’m only 19, but I already have some things to say to my teenage self. I would say to myself not to be scared to be me. Do not care so much about what other people think. In a week I’m going to the third year of university and getting figured out who I really am and now I like being me.
    To all the other teenagers I say: Enjoy and try to think of the positive things that’s in the bad things that happen, because it is really there.

  • As a 15 year old, I’m starting High School in a couple of weeks, and I was scared I was just going to fall back into same routine as in Junior High. But now after watching this video aimed towards teenagers, I’m going to take this advice and apply it, so when I first walk into the High School, I won’t be scared, and I’ll do what I love to do and not care about what anyone thinks of it. Thanks Matt (:

  • Hi Matt,

    Thanks for another great video with true insight and value.

    The thing I would tell my teenage self would be: never be afraid to be yourself, that is something you should never compromise.

  • I’ve been following your work for about a year now, more for the psychological interest of your videos of men / women relationships with a nice byproduct of personal growth. I would attend one of your seminars, but I’m a college student, so…let’s just say I’ve been cutting coupons. Thanks for this message-it was nice to have my demographic represented :) I like how your advice is always less idealistic (ie. School isn’t going to get less dull so find a way to MAKE it less dull) because it doesn’t leave your audience idling, waiting for someday to be better. You’ve got a good work ethic, thanks for everything.

  • I am 23 and my teen years were the best but could have been better. I was one of those popular girls but somewhat hated by other girl. See I had friends from the football team all the way to the robotics team. I was always invited to the best party but never went because I would always put my family first. I would get invited to go to the movies with a group of people and if my parents would make plans for us to go out without a doubt I would pick my family. I would do this all the time so in that way I missed out on a fun part of high school. I also had a couple girls that did not like me because I was popular around the guys. I never flirted with them but they loved being around me. But I was always kept things straight. In high school that’s every important u don’t want people getting the wrong impression of u so don’t do things that look bad. Always stick to who u are n u will see people follow. If u see things are wrong stand for what’s right. Bulling was common in my school n I love that I was popular because that help me help others that were being bullied. So remember explore because this is the time to have fun because after high school come big responsibilities.

  • Hi Matt!
    Thanks for the advice! I’m 18 (almost 19) and starting college next month, so your advice came at the right time. I was just worrying about so many things, because I have to start anew. All this time I wasn’t taking risks, I was scared of what other people thought of me and so on. The last year I spent in high school, I finally started to change that and it made me a lot happier. You made me realise that by posting this video, so thank you very much. I’m going to try to follow this advice when I start the new school year.
    Barbara ;)

  • Awesome!!Its a good thing you made a video for teenagers too..really appreciate this since I’am 18 and I can totally relate to it..was very helpful. Ill try keeping all this in mind.

    Only thing I dint get is how do you know who to impress?when you know somebody you never know where in your life they will be 10 years later!!

    1. Hi Ifra,

      I think if you feel you have to try really hard to impress someone and you’re not getting anything in return, or end up questioning yourself or feeling bad about yourself in the process, then it’s likely it’s not worth it. The key is focusing on impressing yourself! We often overlook our biggest fan (us)!


      1. I need to read more people’s comments; it’s about the first one I’ve read on this blog. Love the response. I think everyone needs to remember these words:

        “The key is focusing on impressing yourself! We often overlook our biggest fan (us)!”

        Wow, well said! & powerful thought!!! At which wizardry and magic school you’ve been studingMatt(hew)?! :)

  • Hey Matt! I’m enjoying the last months of my teenage years, I’m already in university but I still live with my parents, I have gone on holiday on my own, I go out clubbing, I drive, I drink, I date, I have fun. In some ways people treat me as an adult, in others it seems as if I’m still a child who doesn’t know better. And you know what? When people treat me as a child I respond behaving like a child. I don’t do this on purpose. I’ve always been responsible and a bit more mature than my friends, but the lack of confidence in my good judgement makes me angry.
    The last time this happened was a few days ago, I saw an invitation for a Model UN in Azerbaijan, where you send an application and if you got in you travelled to Baku with all expenses payed. I went to a few Model UN when I was in highschool and I even came first with my delegation in 3 occacions. It was a wonderful experience and I wanted to repeat it one last time. But my parents didn’t let me go. They wouldn’t even listen to the whole proposition. I was really angry and upset, I still am. But I don’t want to look back in 20 years and resent my parents for missing this opportunity. Got any advice?
    Love from Argentina,

    1. Hey Celi,

      I know it can be tough, but ultimately your parents are doing what they believe to be the best thing for you and your safety. Often when we’re young we forget to try putting ourselves in their shoes. They aren’t doing things to be mean or ruin our lives, they do it out of love and by what they know to be the best case scenario. I would just say to try and see things from their perspective. There is some reason they don’t want you going. If you can understand it and find a way to relay that understanding to them, they may have a change in perspective and you can come to a mutual understanding. At the end of the day though you both need to respect where the other is coming from and learn from the situation. There’s always something you can take away, a lesson of sorts : ) Take care


  • If I could talk to my teenage self, I would tell myself to stand up to all the people (male and female and teachers) who bullied me from 8th grade until I graduated.

  • Hmm… I am 23 now and coincidentally have been reflecting on my teenage years a lot these past days.

    I would tell myself to complain less and do more. To stop waiting for things to happen by themselves, and go out and make the changes I want to happen to me. I would tell myself to always feed my mind, as being smart helps you loads in life. To believe in myself, and to focus on myself rather than trying to impress all of those people I was trying to impress. To stop worrying so much about boys. and to stop being afraid to step out of my comfort zone, to stop thinking that I can’t make that change or break that pattern. and definitely, something I need to tell myself even now sometimes, to stop expecting things to change overnight . some changes require a big commitment and a lot of effort. but they are worth it.

    most of all, I would tell myself that everything is going to be ok.

  • Thank you, Matt; I’m going to university next month and I’m a bit afraid of that. Not only that I change school after 8 years, but the university is not even in my country (that means different language, different people), so I change my country after almost 20 years. I’m afraid that people there won’t like me the way I am used to, I’m afraid that I won’t be as confident as I want to be; I’m afraid that the first impression about me will be horrible.

    But guess what – after watching your video I’m a bit calmer. I will watch it again (and once – or twice – if I have a problem at the university) and I will try to be the best version of me, the version I really love.

    Thank you once again Matt!


    Magda from the Czech Republic

  • I’m only 16 nearly 17 in my first real mature long term relationship which is 3 months so far but it beats a few weeks of being used and beat down like my ex’s (which is only 2) i think the hardest part of being a teenager is being accepted i have just come out the other side of having depression, and anxiety from bullying my whole life but I’m about to start college and my confidence is so much better sometimes life is about finding the people who will accept you and help build you up instead of trying to create your self to make someone accept you. i see myself as pretty mature and almost like an adult i work im mature and confident and sensible but i still have my moments just got to enjoy your youth be who you want to be stay safe and enjoy the ride and forget the negative people stay positive and you will go so much further. it was through being positive i found the man who loves me and has helped me build myself up and open up now life is a hell of a lot better i have made mistakes along the way but i have learned from them and thats what its all about.

  • Hi Matt,
    I’m 14 and i totally agree with this video especially No.1, Take Risks. I’ve been doing this alot and i have had multiple embarrasments that are absolutly horrific, but these will obviously be great stories to tell to my children when i’m older. I have also learnt alot from these experiences too!


  • Great advice Matt. I would probably say to learn to listen to and trust your gut instinct; it will rarely let you down. If a situation feels wrong, it usually is wrong and vice versa, if it feels right, it usually is right :)

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