Notes for the teenager

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By Tinky Ningombam

One of the most common nightmares that people have is one where they get late for school. Having personally heard many a tale, I reminisce even my own nightmares where I get ready for school but couldn’t reach there on time. Highly frustrating, that. To make things worse, there will the high-school passing exam and an angry teacher trying to humiliate me in front of my many many mocking school mates.

It is common knowledge that for a child, the worst and best things in life have mostly happened in school, whether it is the first public humiliation, the first cat fight or the first victory over evil. How can we forget the horrors of adolescence – the teenage years, ones that passed like a storm – dark, angry and wrecking everything possible on the way. Combine that with school, with authority, with rules. We get the best ingredients for a prime time reality show.

Because it was a time for secrets. Of adventure. Of friendship. Also of fear. Of lies. Of betrayal.

They say that a person’s first chapter in their auto-biography is always one of their school days. After all, it is our childhood memories and our past that give shape to much of our insecurities or in better circumstances, our strengths.

My friends were the anchors in my own complicated teenage years in school. Years later when one of my oldest friends, Yai, told me that she used to be scared of me in school because she was a tiny frail girl who was soft spoken, I told her that I was just as scared as she was, that I would not even tell the teacher that I was right and take a punishment for fear of being asked to explain myself.

When we finally did leave high school, I changed from a scrawny kid who was always scared to speak up to being someone who would and could not be stopped from speaking, not because of a miracle but because I had friends to push me into being outgoing. Every enjoyable school activity that I was in, it was because of my friends.

School can be a pretty scary place sometimes, even the senior kid who is a big winner, the one with the trophies, the one with the highest scores, the one who the teacher loves more, even the over-achievers can seldom ask for help for fear of ridicule. It’s not called “crying for help” for fun, is it?

Everyone has a different past. But every kid will hate three things and that’s universal – contempt, confrontation and counsel.

But seriously, bring me a teenager who loves advice and I will move the world. When I was a teen, I remember I would do just the opposite of what I was told to do, just to drive people around me crazy. It was not even rebellion if I see it now, it was just trying to annoy people. Just pure evil.

You, on the other hand, dear reader, might have been an angel. But no one likes free advice, especially from parents. Well, for one, they are free and hence deemed cheaper than advice that you pay for, like sending a cross-country speed post letter to your favorite rock star to ask about your goal in life or running after an older senior to give you beauty tips. Those, seemed more genuine, cooler!

However, to the people who turned out okay, despite all the psychological hardships and childhood traumas, we celebrate today in solidarity. The storm has passed. But sometimes, we think that maybe we should have taken some of the old advice we discarded because we didn’t know better.

Today, if I could somehow go back in a time-machine and became my teen-age self I will definitely take those golden counsel. So I end with a few super tips that I wish a “teen-ME” could have known, I hope the teenagers today have enough brains to know them sooner than later:

· That I should tell my friends I love them for I may not be spending as much time with them again.

· That even bad pictures of loved ones becomes treasures.

· That I should never pretend to be something that I am not.

· That I should talk more to people who care.

· And lastly, that it is okay to apologize when I am wrong

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