20 Things I Wish Teenagers Knew

For the Celebrate Reading conference in Fremantle late last year, I was asked to prepare something on the topic of ‘What I Wished Teenagers Knew’. This list sort of wrote itself:

1. Try to eat food made of ingredients rather than numbers

2. Many successful people are not in the habit of making their beds

3. Be a friend to your bowel and the many organisms that live in it, and they will all be friends to you

4. Don’t panic

5. If there is such a thing as godliness, cleanliness is probably not next to it

6. Listen more than you talk

7. Don’t be too concerned about hair – as time goes by, your body will give you more where you don’t want it and less where you do

8. Monotasking is under-rated. Sometimes it’s best to concentrate on one thing and do it really well

9. Any time you’re tempted to fall for the wisdom of crowds, remember that concept started out as just one person’s idea, and remember that sometimes the crowd is a mob

10. It’s okay to kill plants. It’s fun if they live, and you get herbs and vegetables but if, year after year, every plant dies on your watch, it’s okay to accept that you’re not a plant person

11. Choose evidence over anecdote, opinion and random statements, with the exception of these random statements

12. Be nice to old people, because I am one now and you will be one eventually

13. Flossing is a real thing and dental health or lack thereof has implications

14. I have friends in their 40s who still say quin-oh-ah, and it’s okay if you do that too

15. Tattoos are no way as reversible as you think

16. Your body is okay as it is. It is a vehicle you get around in and it is well worth looking after, but it is not the best bit of you

17. There is no justification for throw cushions on beds

18. Porn is not a reliable indicator of activities that people actually want to do

19. Read because it makes more you more empathic, more knowledgeable, more intelligent, more attractive and less gullible

20. Read my books because I have a seven-year-old to feed, clothe and put through cello lessons

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13 Responses to 20 Things I Wish Teenagers Knew

  1. Oh this is wonderful! My favourite is ‘monotasking is under-rated’. That is why I am a late bloomer . . . I spent too much time multitasking.

  2. bluebellina says:

    No.19 is especially true. I find myself muttering after reading pertinent bits in novels….if only our leaders had read this before they…..insert horrible policy here. This goes for us voters too. Sigh.

  3. Kellie OConnor says:

    Glad the flosssing made the grade. Unfortunately after months of religious religiousness with the tape, I gave up.

    I am sorry to be a disappointment and discouraging of your alternative career.

    Perhaps this email will spark a renewed commitment

    • nickearls says:

      I reckon try the thread version rather than the tape version, Kellie (spaghetti-style rather than fettucini-style …). I recommend Oral B Essential Floss (50m in a white round container). The tapes used to always break and annoy me – this one’s more durable.

  4. firobertson says:

    But, but, but ….Would you condone two cushions that sort of flop on top of the actual sleeping cushions in an attractive manner?

    • nickearls says:

      Only as part of an art installation, not as part of life.

      Okay, maybe I could give some leeway if I never had to (a) move them to get into bed, (b) put them back when I got up, (c) wash the covers, (d) talk about them, (e) think about them or (f) contribute to replacement costs when their aesthetics were no longer fashionable, cats had damaged them, etc.

      So how glad are you that you don’t live with me?

  5. firobertson says:

    I’m thinking you and throw cushions are just not meant to be.

  6. I love #6…listening is underrated. My mother taught us how important it was to listen instead of interrupting when something triggered a thought. It’s hard to do but worth the effort.

  7. Norah says:

    Love it! Thanks for the smiles – and wisdom!

  8. Robin Storey says:

    Totally agree with number 2! I have never seen the sense in making the bed when you are only going to mess it up again in a few hours. But when my kids were little, I felt it was part of my parental duties to nag them to make their beds – now they are adults, I am thankfully relieved of that hypocritical responsibility.

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