It is by now common knowledge that the adolescent brain is a half-formed piece of machinery. A teenager simply lacks the ability to always consider the entire context of a situation and execute an informed decision.
Instead, they usually wild out and do a bunch of dangerous stuff.
When people reflect on their teenage years, the most frequent response is somewhere between yearning regret and a cringe. From the clear-eyed vantage of adulthood, the flawed priorities of those youthful years look sharp and obvious.
Stubbornness and the refusal to listen to any adult begins to look dumber than it felt. How we all navigated social dynamics in high school hallways looks like nothing better than hurtful chaos.
And years of recklessness with a body that healed fast can come back to bite.
Can't Assume They Know
"I regret not telling people that I love and cherish their friendship. Just recently found out a person I really cared for passed away. I wish I had been more open about my feelings." -- Rightmeyow
"Do it. People remember that kind of thing, and if something being a little weird is more important to them than someone being genuine and appreciative, then f*ck em. You're about to meet a bunch more people who will likely value that sort of gesture." -- Steelerfan345
Take Your Time on Adulting
"I regret trying to grow up too quickly. I wish I had done a better job enjoying my youth. The responsibilities I took on helped my future, but I wish I would've found a better balance because I feel like I missed out on a lot of things."
An Extended Metaphor
"I wish I'd internalized the fact that everyone is thinking about themselves as much as I'm thinking about myself. They're not concerned with that one time I had a boner, they're worried about how they'll do about the test tomorrow."
"Or hell, they might be worried about that time they had a boner in front of the class. But do you remember that time? Nope. Same goes for them with you. "
"I regret not properly balancing short term and long term gain. Which to be fair, a lot of people struggle with. But thinking back how if I just dedicate a small bit of time everyday, I can make huge progress."
"Don't play football. Don't box."
"I have treatment resistant chronic low-grade depression, persistent anxiety, and bipolar. I say all three because the diagnosis is often in flux. I have seen four psychiatrists."
"I will never know what influence head trauma had on my situation, but I truly wish I didn't have to think about it."
If It Wasn't Obvious
"Cheating !!! Never cheat when you are dating or when you are in a relationship. No matter how bad your SO is, cheating is not okay." -- kalpavruksha
"I think the core issue there is being okay being alone. If your SO is so bad, just leave them and be single for a bit. It's fine, it's not the end of the world. It's actually pretty fun in it's own ways." -- IAmASolipsist
An Empty Inner Resolve
"When you're younger you tend to judge people easily based off others opinions without ever getting a chance to form your own. There were several points in my teen years when I was told to avoid X because of Y and later befriended that person and have great memories with them."
"I probably missed out on dozens of great friendships and opportunities all because a kid wasn't seen as 'cool' or was seen as 'weird.' When in reality someone told me those things based off misconceptions, bias, or jealousy."
"Having hangups about my physique. The people who care (about your physique, not their own) are shi**y people, and it's hard to drop those hangups later in life. I'm a perfectly average guy, but I still won't take my shirt off in public."
No Longer Invincible
"I drank a sh*t ton (metric sh*t ton) of soda. During my teenage years I did major damage to my teeth by covering them with acid and sugar water. Now I have many crowns, and have had many root canals. Next step for me will be implants if my crowns give out."
"This sh*t is both painful and expensive. I wish I didn't drink so much soda and took better care of my teeth."
So Thaat's Why They Fall Asleep on the Couch Instantly
"Being an ungrateful brat and not appreciating the sacrifices my parents made for me. I'm an adult now, with step kids, and it's really hard to be mad at them for the exact same sh*t I pulled as a teenager."
"So I guess my advice is: try to see your parents as people too; people who give up a lot for you and wouldn't mind hearing a 'thank you' once in awhile."
"SAVE YOUR DAMN MONEY" -- maleorderbride
"One thing I learned: 'If you're too afraid to check your bank account, you damn well need to check your bank account.' " -- MyJelloJiggles
Before It's Too Late
"I regret getting into drinking heavily and not focusing on school, drinking became my life, I'm still struggling with my alcoholism, it turned my brain to mush." -- Bredundant
"I went through a very similar situation. I had lots of 'reasons' to party instead of attending school, but the end result was not graduating HS and settling for a GED. I eventually ended up in treatment at age 19. I'm now 53 and that treatment was the best thing to happen to me." -- joegofish
"Not playing sports. Not that I would have been good but I wasn't active enough. It would have been good for me physically and socially."
"On that note, not going to dances or dating. I let my anxiety get the best of me."
"On that note, not seeking mental health treatment."
Open Your Eyes!
"Most teenagers are awful narcissists. They don't realize it, and they grow out of it. But if I could fix one thing from being a teenager, it would be to stop worrying so much about what I wanted and how I felt and be more aware of the people around me."
"I think that one small measure of awareness would have prevented many things I regret now."
Realizing it Was in Your Control
"Not doing something about my health, sooner."
"I was really fat as a teenager and young adult. I didn't get my sh!t together and fix my unhealthy relationship with food until I was in my early 30s."
"I missed out on a LOT of key moments in life because I was so afraid of going out in public, judgement, being made fun of and being the butt of jokes (like the time I thought a guy liked me and he was just pretending to so his mate could go out with my best friend)."
When the Motivations Come into Focus
"I regret getting into a relationship with someone, purely because he found me attractive. At the time, I was depressed and insecure, and I thought another chance for someone to want me would surely never come again. So I dated someone for like 4 months who I wasn't even attracted to, physically, emotionally, or mentally."
"I only broke up with him when my twin sister told me he flirted with her before he flirted with me, and she hadn't wanted to tell me because she didn't want to hurt my feelings."
"My advice? Focus on healthily improving your self confidence. No one is going to love you like you can love yourself - certainly not teenage grease bags who make you feel like sh*t."
The Human Brain is NOT Invincible
"Take it easy on the drugs. You have your whole life ahead of you and still have lots of development. Make the most out of being sober." -- SexDeity
"Doing drugs. It can really slow you down on life and 1 really bad trip is enough to f*ck up your life. Had a really close call." -- 1ivr3
Easiest Time to Do it
"Learn a second language! Grew up with people who spoke Spanish at home but was taught English in school and never bothered to retain the Spanish I knew now I regret it and trying to relearn is hard."
Risks Not Taken
"I don't know why I bothered taking AP classes for topics that I never actually needed in college or afterwards. I feel like I made my time in high school unnecessarily stressful."
"I also should have tried to skip class at least once. Just to see if I could."
Do Something About How You Feel
"Go to counselling if you're not happy. There doesn't have to be anything 'wrong' with you, you don't have to have a mental illness - sometimes life is hard due to environmental factors that you can't control."
"Learning coping mechanisms from a professional is so helpful and I wish I had done so when I was a young teenager."
"I regret not taking sport seriously back then. I enjoyed football and cricket and was very talented in both sports but I only enjoyed playing with my mates, I was too shy to join a team and make new friends. I had a good circle of friends I didn't wanna leave for anyone else."
"Only later on did I realise while at university that I'm pretty dam good at both sports but to late to be professional I think. I joined a semi professional club when I was around 21 and still with them 15 years later. Think I'm ready to retire now"
You Will Pay for it Eventually
"Abusing credit. Got a bunch of cards and an overdraft at 18. Having a shiny plastic credit card made me feel grown up because that's what my older friends (who actually had jobs) were doing."
"Started spending recklessly. Built up debt. Had late payments, and then missed a few entirely. Worried for ages, had to sell some things. Took me the next four years to get out of it. Debt free now."
Let it Go
"Always being so self conscious and wrapped up in myself. I was so afraid what others thought of me I never really just enjoyed high school and life in general. I was too busy being someone I wasn't."
"I would tell teens, be yourself, make good friends that truly care about you, and don't worry about what others think. Find something you enjoy and do it. Enjoy those years, cuz adulthood comes and life gets a lot harder."
Multiple Pathways Exist
"I went straight to college from high school. I wanted to party and have fun and dropped out after 6 months."
"I wish I'd explored options for what to do after high school. I had this idea it was straight to college or work retail forever."
"I would've been way better off taking a year or two to do something interesting and or/fun but not lucrative. (Work in national parks; Americorps; hell get a part time job and hang around home making art.)"
Do you have something to confess to George? Text "Secrets" or "" to +1 (310) 299-9390 to talk to him about it.