Dear Elsie,

Adolescence is an important transitional period for young people. It is a trying period for many. This period is a time when you become aware of your new self as you depart from childhood into adulthood.

Your body experiences all new and strange feelings.  And somehow, people expect you to think, feel and act to according to the dictates of society that nobody bothers to tell you hitherto. For instance, if you are a girl, it is wrong to jump around raising your skirt so that your friends could catch a glimpse of new underwear. Older persons will yell various instructions at you about living the adult life you have longed to live all your childhood life. Conversely, for some reason, at this stage, you feel like you have this adult life already figured out and need no one to tell you how to live.

Adolescence is a period characterised by a lot of mistakes and awkward moments. These moments, to some extent, tell which kind of adults you will be in future. You must handle this period and everything that comes with it with tact.

Looking back, there are a few things I wish I knew before I became an adolescent. Better still, these are things I wish I paid heed to when I was an adolescent. In the ensuing paragraphs, I share some of these things with you.

I wish I were told to ask questions, no matter how embarrassing they would sound. This period is an embarrassing one for many girls, unlike boys. I remember how we (girls) used to cringe when the science was teaching something that bothered on the adolescence of girls. We were purely uncomfortable.

Ironically, the boys got ecstatic about this, for whatever reason, I do not know. Out of shyness, I bottled up too many questions I would have been all too glad to have answers to. This period is entirely new to me, but not older people. Adults have a lot of experience I could draw from, but I never did because I felt embarrassed to be the person asking the questions.

Dear Elsie, ask questions and seek clarification on confusing matters. It will save you a lot of time correcting mistakes. Some mistakes can have prevented with a simple question. People will give you an unwelcoming stare if you ask certain questions. Do not let those stares glue your lips. Ask the questions regardless.

I wish I were told that decision-making at this time of my life would require a lot of thinking. Life is quite giddy at this point with hormones raging in our bodies. We are therefore likely to make a decision on impulse without careful scrutiny which is quite dangerous. It means a wrong turn was going leave solving one problem after another. Remember that at this time, you are young adult and so almost every step you take could have a direct consequence on your “fully adult” self. It is therefore prudent to make decisions not at the dictates  of some raging hormone.

I also wish that I were told to be more accepting of my mistakes. Mistakes are a part of life. As this was a new phase for me, it was normal to make too many mistakes. It is not wrong to make mistakes. What is wrong is constantly beating yourself up making them. Mistakes are a great learning tool. They translate into a bank of experience you would be glad to learn from every now and then. What did they say about experience again?

If you constantly try to blame yourself for a mistake, you might end up tucking it away in some part you leaving it unsolved. So, anytime it comes to mind, the pain still feels fresh. But if you accept them, you will be able to solve them and move on way easier than the former will allow you to.

Dear Elsie, adolescence is fragile. Handle it with the best of care.

Until I write to you again, I remain yours sincerely, Fathiya.

Picture Credit: Edem Robby Abbeyquaye