This is a big year for you. I know.
Your 16th year flew by, filled with so many exciting new opportunities and many challenges too. It was a year full of hard things, but also a year full of new freedoms that offered you a chance to become more independent. Getting your license was a huge deal and being able to drive on your own and do your own thing changed everything for you.
You had new responsibilities and expectations and through it all, you learned so much. You grew older and wiser and I’m so proud of how well you managed it all.
Now that you’re 17, you’ve landed on new ground and it feels scary and exciting all at once.
This is the year when the world seems to tell you many things that you ought to be doing. This is the year when the world will expect more from you than you could possibly give. This is the year where you’re supposed to know who you are and what you plan to do with your future, and these standards placed on you can feel completely overwhelming and highly unrealistic.
At 17, the world will tell you that you have one year left until you are all grown up and ready for adulthood.
The world will tell you that you should have everything figured out by now, that your high school experience is pretty much over and you really should be taking college courses too. The world will tell you that by the end of this year, you must have your life all together, neatly packaged with college applications sent, scholarship programs accepted, excellent SAT or ACT scores, and a better than perfect GPA, too.
The world will push you to have a detailed plan for your future, filled with career choices and all the requirements for you to live a successful life, outlined in clear goals that stretch over the next four years. The world will expect you to pose for pictures while smiling and holding as many awards as you possibly can, while wearing your new college t-shirt, surrounded by happy people cheering you on.
You’ll be celebrated for being a successful adult by the time you are 18, if and only if you have met the conditions the world has set for the fortunate few.
No matter how you feel about everything, the world will applaud your hard work and show you its satisfied that you adhered to these rules. No matter how uncertain you might be about the choices you were pressed to make, no matter how overwhelmed you’ve been and overworked you’ve felt to get this far, you’ve learned to do what the world tells you to do. You’ve succumbed to all the pressures of the world trying to keep up with this fast lane to 18.
Or maybe you missed the mark, didn’t make the cut, and you slipped on the high rope falling into the pool of average grades and entry into community college. Or perhaps you swung too high and didn’t get into your college choice, or maybe you didn’t even jump when the world told you to jump and you’re (gasp) not going to college at all. You might be attending a trade school or taking a year off to work and save money. You may not have a set plan at all, because you’re just not sure what you want to do. Well, then the world might not recognize you as worthy of reward, or pictures or praise, instead they might choose to look the other way.
The world has a way of setting expectations that try to define what is best, what is acceptable and allowed. But the world’s full of lies and countless skewed messages of what is true. The world isn’t fair or correct in its position to judge who you are or set this high bar. It can be cruel and punishing to those who don’t fit into the world’s perfect picture of all you should be.
My dear 17-year-old, the most important thing you can do during this critical year, is try to not listen to the world and all its lies. The world doesn’t know you and it never will. So, don’t let the world define who you are, don’t let the world have that much power over your life.
The world doesn’t get to have the last say.
Pay no attention to its perilous ways.
Don’t let those voices take over your own.
Make your decisions for you alone.
Don’t bend under pressure or coil in defeat.
Don’t believe all conditions they say you must meet.
Don’t compare yourself to others you see.
Just focus on your life and all you can be.
Don’t get discouraged by a bad grade.
Don’t feel all that pressure, don’t be so afraid.
Don’t feel like your future depends on today
Don’t measure success by what people say.
There are no set standards that declare what your worth.
You have been special since the day of your birth.
When you feel frustrated, not sure what to do-
Be patient and kind and forgive yourself too.
You’ll figure it out in your own time.
And then you can say “This life, it’s all mine”.
It’s not what the world demands you should do
Just try your best and hold on to your truth.
Planning a life requires some thought
And since you’re a kid, it feels like a lot.
So, remember these things, despite what you’re told
Embrace who you are at 17-years-old.
This is a contributed post by Christine Carter. She writes at TheMomCafe.com, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration, and faith. Her work is published on several various online publications and she is the author of “Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.” and “Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World”. Both sold on Amazon.
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