15 Things I Wish I'd Known At 15

"Go after your wildest dreams."

1. Adults don’t really have it all together.

At 15, I felt like my relatives, parents, and teachers were perfect adults. They had all the answers and were living these perfectly responsible, mature lives. I blame this for creating unreal expectations in my own life. I thought that once I hit the real world, “adulthood” instincts would kick in. I now realize no adult really has it all together—they’re just really good at pretending they know what they’re doing. Once you figure this out, being an adult is a lot less stressful.

2. Making your own decisions is a lot of responsibility.

“I can’t wait to make my own decisions. I’ll do whatever I want.” At 15, this seems perfectly rational. However, once you’re in the “real world,” you realize ever decision comes with consequences—and when you make the decision, you have to live with the consequences. Decisions about what time to go to bed and how many packs of Oreos to buy quickly morph into major life decisions that affect your entire future.

3. Driving is actually not that much fun.

Visions of the wide, open road are quickly replaced with really “fun” realities—such as inspections, fees for your license, the exorbitant cost for fuel, and upkeep of the car. This is not to mention the tedium of actually driving yourself around all of the time—now, being a passenger is a privilege.

4. Neither is working.

At 15, we picture ourselves as these perfect business professionals with important jobs. We always look career ready in our perfectly pressed suit and silk blouse. We go to work with a smile, earn our huge paycheck, and enjoy frivolously spending our hard-earned cash.

Some of these elements of the dream come true for some of us. Still, there are plenty of less-than-perfect moments in the workforce, plenty of snoozed alarms and wrinkly shirts. Plus, the “huge” paycheck never really goes as far as we thought it would at 15. Typically, the evening Mimosa and limo ride of my 15-year-old dreams is exchanged for a trip to Walgreens for cat litter and paper towels followed by a takeout pizza on the way home. Not quite the luxurious life I thought it would be.

5. Eat as many of those cookies as you want while your metabolism is still working.

The twenties are seriously a metabolism warp—load up on all of the cookies you want now, before they go to your hips.

6. You are not fat.

Wear the crop top. Be proud in the bikini. Seriously. You. Are. Not. Fat. You are beautiful just the way you are.

7. You do not need foundation.

The splotchy complexion you see is in your head. Your skin is perfect without makeup. You do not have a single fine line or wrinkle. Enjoy the days when caking on four layers of makeup just to look presentable isn’t necessary.

8. Go after your wildest dreams.

The years will pass by quickly. Don’t be afraid to start going after those crazy dreams, even if everyone says they’ll never happen.

9. Your life plans will never go as planned.

Your strategically, month-by-month plan of your twenties is admirable but unrealistic. It’s good to have plans and goals, but be prepared for basically none of your plans to go the way you want them to. This is life.

10. High school isn’t as stressful as you think.

You think high school graduation will mark the end of your worries. Think again. Life gets incrementally more difficult, more stressful, and more exhausting the older you get. Buckle down, young one. It’s going to be a long ride.

11. You’ll be glad you’re pale later.

Tan skin turns to wrinkled skin. You’ll be glad for your paleness later. Keep wearing your sunscreen.

12. Being nerdy will pay off.

You’ll turn your love of books into two careers. The next time someone laughs at you for carrying your book everywhere, just smile.

13. Trust your instincts when it comes to love.

People will tell you that you can’t possibly understand love at 15. Maybe sometimes they’re right. However, stick to your gut. The boy you know is the one for you?He is. You’ll marry him.

14. Mean girls don’t always win.

Stick to your morals. Keep being the nice girl. Trust me, they don’t always finish in last place. Live your life with integrity, and you’ll be proud of the person you become.

15. Pay more attention to your school photo outfits.

Those crazy prints and weird accessories aren’t doing anyone any favors...and those pictures will come back to haunt you. Forever. Do us all a favor and pick some nice solids. And please, ditch the butterfly clips. You’ll thank me later.

There’s so much you don’t know at 15...but that’s okay. Soak it in, do your best, and someday, you’ll look back on these years with a smile, butterfly clips and all.

Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English teacher and a contemporary romance author. To learn more about her books, visit www.lindsaydetwiler.com.