Growing Pains

Are you feeling conflicted at the moment? Like you don’t understand yourself anymore?  One minute you seem to be happy and calm, the next you are blowing off in an angry rage?  Maybe you have fallen out with a friend recently and you aren’t sure what you have done.  

Growing up is so tough.  When you become a parent you tend to get lost in how tough parenting is and forget what it was like to be going through so many hormonal changes, experiencing your first heart breaks, the pressure to work hard at school.  Adults can pretty quickly dismiss the issues you are going through and can make you feel that something which matters to you is really small.  

They don’t mean it, it’s just that they have so many issues going on that in their mind, having a friend who has fallen out with you, is really not a big deal.  Compared with having to pay for the house, or losing your job.  The problem is though is that it is all relative.  You don’t have to deal with the problems your parents do, your time will come, so currently the problems you are experiencing matter as much to you, as the problems your parents face.  So don’t feel guilty, or that your problems and worries don’t matter.  Because they do.  Don’t be angry at your parents either, they don’t mean to forget what it was like being a teen.

So how can you help yourself through your teenage years?  Firstly there are some mind blowing self development books which you can read.  These could help you become more aware of who you are and help you to focus your mind on problem solving.  Which is going to help you a lot over the next few years.  Of course The Bible is the best self development book out there! There are other ways though, to get through your issues and help make peace with yourself.  So let’s take a look at a few.

Firstly, the sisterhood is really important.  Your female friends understand exactly what you are going through on a day to day basis.  No matter how good the boys are, they just won’t get the hormones.  Sorry girls.  The sisterhood is also important because you understand what it is like to feel most of the emotions other girls are going through.  You get that no matter what anyone says, you feel too fat or too skinny.  You know what it is like to stand in the dressing room and feel worried about getting changed.  You know how hard it is to walk past the confident girls, because even if you are seen as one of them, you aren’t really.  Not all the time.  

Stand by your fellow females.  Don’t judge them or make fun of them.  You need to build them up so if you see another girl struggling, go to her aid.  Don’t bully other girls and if you see another girl being bullied, stand up.  Always.  Do not be afraid.  Too many girls turn the other way because they don’t want to get involved.  Do get involved.  

Don’t ignore the boys though, yes we need to stick together but that shouldn’t mean standing up against men.  It means working with them.  We have a slightly easier time of it that boys because girls tend to talk their feelings over more.  So get with the boys and help them talk a little more too.  You will discover a lot more about yourself when you hear a boy talking about girls.  You might even realize what it is that matters to boys.  Because it certainly isn’t the things you worry about.

Understand your parents and talk to them.  You want their respect and honesty, so give them yours.  Yes, ok parents can be pretty uncool when it comes to some matters but the truth is, they have been through almost every single emotion you are going through.  It might be tough to bring up your innermost thoughts with your mum, but trust us, she is going to drop everything to help you.  You might have to be a little persistent.  Sometimes parents need to be really stopped and told “this is important” before they really acknowledge it.  Parents have buzzwords which will get their attention.  Such as ‘help’ and ‘I’m scared’ or ‘I really need you’ these phrases are unignorable by most moms and dads.  So think of them like a computer that needs programming. Say the right words and they will listen.

Whatever you are feeling, talking is always the best way forward.  So do it.  Talk and keep talking.

Own Your Education!

Oh to be young again! You are probably fed up with adults telling you that these are the best years of your life.  However, the truth is they kind of are.  

Ok, so it’s easy for us to forget how hard it is growing up and learning so much stuff.  As you hit mid teens you feel like you know so much yet are talked to with such little respect, or maybe you want to control your destiny a little more but feel like you are being held back.  Whilst it is incredibly hard to respect that your teachers and parents may know best and are tasked with the huge responsibility of ensuring you are educated, healthy and safe, you do have to trust in your adult peers to do just that.  However there are many ways you can take control.  So let’s take a look at what you can do to ensure you are on the path you want to walk.

Education is probably going to be the biggest part of your life until you are around 24 years old.  Once you finish school you will have far more choices on which lessons you take, how you study and where you study.  Until then you kind of have to let your parents and teachers guide you.  That doesn’t mean you can’t throw a few ideas into the pot too.

Perhaps you are desperate to learn more about Europe.  Who can blame you?  As we get older it becomes harder for us to take time out and travel.  You may get the opportunity to do this if you take a gap year, however with more and more people looking for work and stiffer competition than ever before, you might be better off skipping your gap year and working through.  So, this is where you need to start thinking a little outside the box.

Your school will do many different types of school trips throughout the year.  Some of these will be local and during school time, others might be far away and eat into your vacation time.  There is a lot of planning involved, so don’t take these trips for granted, however, maybe you could do some planning of your own.

If there is enough interest in your idea and it fits with the projects your school has set for you, then there is no reason you couldn’t present your idea to your school principal.  In fact, if you can nail out a fantastic pitch, writing all the reasons you think you should go there, researching companies who may be able to take on the organisation and you have a list of pupils who would be up for heading out, you might just impress your tutors so much they ace your plan.

There are some great ideas for the ultimate school trip online, you don’t have to be a teacher to research the idea or to get in touch with the companies to discover all the information.  In fact it is going to help your pitch if you have already spoken to a company who can provide a full package and got all the info.  

Being able to answer all the questions your teachers are going to throw at you, will stand you ten steps ahead of them.  Think about why the trip would benefit your education and if you can link one trip to be positive across 4 or 5 subjects this will work in your favour.  You might be going because you are fascinated by the art, but don’t forget a few days looking at art and architecture will also involve history, geography and cuisine.  So you can link it through to make it a really great, multi subject trip.

Of course there are other ways you can take control of your education too.  Whilst it can seem a little dorky to become a school president it is actually the opposite of that.  Being a school president means you have a say in how your education works.  So it will really play in your favour and give you that respect you have been craving.  You will finally have a voice, so you need to use it for good (no evil geniuses here please)

We have a great guide for getting to the oval office of your class.

Firstly, you are going to find it easier to get ahead if you are involved from your freshman year and continuing that involvement every year.  You will need to participate in sports, volunteer to work on homecoming floats, decorate the gym for dances, and basically get to know the other students at your school besides your core group of friends. Make everybody know your name. If your school offers a class associated with the student body, sign up. This is all great networking experience for later life too, so by embarking on a campaign now you may be giving yourself the extra edge as you head to your first job. If everyone knows your name and you have been friendly and fun, when the time comes to run for class president, you’ll be remembered in the voting booth for your involvement and dedication to the school.

The best way to begin your campaign is to be the first to start campaigning.  Get out there and talk to people as soon as the political season opens.  Keep talking.  Be direct and ask people for signatures.  Don’t just get the ones you are required, get as many as you can.  Hitting it hard and fast means you can ingrain your name and your commitment in your fellow students.  Especially if you have taken the time to get to know what they want.  Give them a voice too.

You don’t have to be a teacher’s pet but it is going to pay if you build a rapport with a couple of teachers.  Keep your grades high too.  You need the respect of the faculty as well as your classmates.  It isn’t uncommon for the faculty members to provide recommendations for office eligibility.  Your teachers will also want students in office who recognize their own interest in the campus because it is you that will be called up to represent your school in front of committees or the district office.  If you have a high quality of work and respect with teachers then they will have the faith in you to represent them best.  Which is a great way of showing you are trusted and respected by the adults who have your future in their hands.  

Listening to your classmates is vital.  Ask them what they want you to accomplish.  If it is realistic then pursue it.  You need the masses to showcase your intentions within your campaign speech so if it touches a note with enough people, you are going to get a great reception.  

Believe in what you say you plan to do in your campaign platform. If you say, for instance, that you plan to begin new traditions, believe in your goal. Don’t repeat what you think your classmates want to hear. Instead, commit yourself to public service. At the same time, think “outside the box.” Come up with your own creative goals for the school.  But don’t make unrealistic campaign promises.  Taking hump day off of school might sound ace in your head, but it isn’t going to happen and will make you lose credibility.  

So when the actual president runs for power they won’t get far if they spend the whole time cracking jokes, however in high school politics you earn points for being funny.  When faced with questions on the campaign trail the best answers are those where you make the students laugh but address the issue, too.  The same goes for speeches. Throw in a joke or two, you know the score, young people love to laugh.  So go for that.  Leave the dullsville speeches to everyone else.

Taking control of your education is possible, you just need to do it in the right way.  So stop pushing the wrong buttons.  Get your head down, think about what it is you want and find a way to take control.

Teachers and parents love to see us putting all the passion we have to good use.  If we are wasting it at home chasing unrealistic goals then we end up being met with resistance.  However if you can put your thoughts down on paper and create a reasoned and grown up proposal you will find you are met with respect and, ultimately, trust.  You might not win every pitch you put out there, but at least you will win the respect of the people who are in charge.

If you can nurture these skills now, you will have a far more rounded future.  Know which battles are worth fighting and which are not.  Then dedicate yourself and push through with your ideas.  

You don’t have much control over your life, so make it count where you do.


Rolling In It: How Students Can Make A Fortune

Prospects for students aren’t so great these days. If you’re doing an art degree, the chances are that you won’t see a return on your investment. There are now so many students taking so many degrees that the value of having a degree is going down. In fact, going to college may soon be seen as a net negative by employers, especially if they think that you could have been spending your time building skills in the workplace.

Because of this sorry state of affairs, many students are wondering whether they should take a different career path to get the lives they want. Should they waste their time competing against hordes of other university graduates in round after round of interviews with dozens of employers who claim to be in the Times Top 100 list? Or should they just go out into the market, find a problem that people want solving, and start their own business?

According to the data, it appears that more and more people are doing the latter. They want the freedom to be able to dictate the direction of their own lives, and so they’re choosing to ditch traditional career paths and find something new that will make them money.

The question for students, however, is: what can they do today to boost their chances of entrepreneurial success in the future?

Get Access To People

In business, knowing the right people is more important than having lots of cash. If you’re a student at university right now, it’s a good idea to start developing the relationships and networks you’ll need to succeed in the future. By meeting and listening to other people in the business world, you’ll find the information and the support you need for starting out by yourself.

Large companies also offer support for students looking to start up their own businesses. Companies like Ellis Whittam offer advice on how to approach employment law. And Google has launched their “Google Campus” initiative, providing young entrepreneurs access to their facilities to building their businesses, often for free.

There’s also something called General Assembly, a hub which has many education programs and networking events for students to attend.

Look For Funding

Although access to people is important, you’ll also need quite a bit of funding to get started. Startup Loans is a scheme run by the Dragon James Caan along with Lord Young. The idea is to provide students with the capital they need to put their ideas into practice. Caan says that he shows students on the scheme how to put together a team of people and grow a brand.

Another organization called Student Upstarts is also aimed at helping students get started. It was set up by Christian Jakenfelds and Matthew Stafford. The idea is to invest fixed sums of money for a share of the equity in the company. The criteria are simple. The applicant must be a student, and they must have graduated in the last twelve months.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the best way to learn a business is to just do it.

Health Anxiety 101: The Anxiety Disorder You’ve Never Heard Of

The vast majority of mental health conditions trigger before the age of 25. While some – such as schizophrenia – can manifest later in life, for most, they emerge towards the end of their teens.

This is problematic. It’s a time of life that is generally disruptive anyway, as teenagers try and figure out what they want from the world. Then they have to deal with the onset of what can often be a vicious mental health condition. This is, in no small part, why eating disorders are so prevalent among girls and young women.

You are likely familiar with the names of the most prevalent mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. However, there is a subset of the anxiety disorder category that is becoming more prevalent – Health Anxiety.

What Is Health Anxiety?

Health Anxiety is separate from the infamous hypochondria; when someone imagines themselves to be ill for attention. With Health Anxiety, the sufferer imagines themselves to be ill – but they don’t want attention. They don’t want to be ill; they’re terrified by the mere prospect. It is not malingering in the traditional sense; it’s a constant, all-consuming fear of illness, doctors, hospitals and medical tests.

Something as simple as a trip to the opticians is difficult for someone with Health Anxiety. They suffer fear that has physical manifestations, such as sweaty palms, shortness of breath and lightheadedness.

Those with Health Anxiety also tend to be consumed by a fear that they have a terrible illness. At this point, there are two subsets of the subset itself:

1) Reassurance Seekers. The reassurance seekers tend to visit their doctor often with a new perceived symptom, in desperate need of reassurance they are not suffering from a terrifying disease. They have more medical tests than normal. They will Google symptoms they experience in an attempt to alleviate the intrusive thoughts that they have no control over.

2) Avoiders. Avoiders are the exact opposite. They will not visit a medical professional if it can be avoided; they avoid anything on TV to do with medicine. This can often be to the detriment of their own health. They will, for example, miss routine eye tests for fear of what may come of them.


What Is Health Anxiety?

Health Anxiety is now being recognized as a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is best characterized in a nutshell as:

“A person suffers intrusive thoughts they cannot control. They then take actions to alleviate the disturbing thoughts and calm anxious feelings.”

In the standard OCD, those actions are the recognizable symptoms such as hand-washing. For people with Health Anxiety, their actions are likely to be visiting a medical professional or researching symptoms of diseases.

Why Can’t Health Anxiety Sufferers Just Get Over It?

The nature of intrusive thoughts is that they are intrusive; they are not invited. Health Anxiety is caused by brain chemistry being awry, the same way all mental illnesses are. Someone with Health Anxiety can no more “get over it” than a person with a broken leg can just walk on it. The cause is physical – the term “mental illness” is something of a misnomer.

A typical cycle of Health Anxiety goes as follows:

1) The initial trigger, such as navel pain, kicks off this cycle.

2) They seek reassurance from a doctor or leave the problem long enough for it to resolve itself.

3) They satisfy the initial trigger with the above; the pain disperses (or has a benign cause such as IBS, which is rectified) and they resume normal activity.

4) They are then triggered with an entirely new symptom, and the cycle begins again.

The length of the cycle depends on the individual concerned; it may take days, or it may be weeks. The whole while, they are anxious, distressed and terrified. It’s not something they have any control over – no one would invite these things.

How Is It Treated?

Treatments for OCD have some efficacy against Health Anxiety, but many sufferers have to formulate an individual plan that works for them. Options include:


SSRI drugs commonly used to treat depression can help alleviate mild symptoms. Earlier generic tricyclics such as Clomipramine can be helpful in more severe cases.

Talking Therapies

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is most often utilized for Health Anxiety, with varying degrees of success.

What Do I Do If I Think I Have Health Anxiety?

Talk to a doctor and explain your symptoms. Diagnosis can be tricky; you may find a doctor saying you are just malingering. You have to be careful to explain the anxiety and upset your thoughts are causing you. And never be afraid to get a second opinion. Health Anxiety is becoming more commonly recognized, so don’t miss out on the chance for assistance.


Worried About A Friend: How You Can Help

Whether at school or in college, sometimes we can notice changes in our friends which over time can cause us to worry.

Maybe they are a little quieter than usual in class.  Or you have noticed them looking distracted.  Whilst often it can be nothing more than a simple phase or maybe they are just a little tired after a few late nights, it could be there is something more serious that they need to talk about or, with their health.

The most important thing is to respect their privacy.  If they have trouble at home they may not want to talk about it, and that is their choice.  However the first thing you should do is quietly mention to them that you have noticed there is something wrong.  Wait to see how they react.  If they stay quiet then put your hand on their arm and reassure them that you are always available.  Let them know that you aren’t going to keep going on about it, but you will always listen.

If your friend feels ready to share then you need to be prepared just to listen.  Often talking a problem through can lift a lot of the pressure.  They may ask you for advice and on smaller issues like school stress or boyfriend troubles, you can give some best friend pep talks.  However on larger, more complicated problems at home or within themselves, the best advice is to always speak to an adult.  Either someone in school or at a local youth or support centre.  Offer to go with your friend and be there every step of the way.  It may be most appropriate for her to tell her parents how she feels.  If that is the case, offer her guidance and if she is really worried, maybe suggest she talks to your parents and gets their advice.  Do not give any advice fuelled by your own emotion, you could influence a decision that may not be taking into consideration the varying subtleties of the situation.

Occasionally it is health worries that cause our concern for friends.  If your pal is reluctant to talk you could get some advice from a doctor app.  Your friend may be showing symptoms of something serious such as diabetes or an eating disorder.  If this is the case, talk to her and let her know you are really worried.  Offer to go with her to the doctor and help her talk to an adult.  

We go through a lot of emotional and physical changes as we grow into young adults and it can be hard to admit these or share experiences with other people.  Whilst you cannot force anyone to take care of themselves or unload their worries, you can ensure you are always available and ready to listen and although privacy is vital, you may be able to get advice from your parents on how to help.

Girls need to stick together and then stay together when they are women.  Never judge and always support.  Those are the basic rules of friendship.

The Pecs Factor: Health And Exercise Information

With the amount of people telling us what is healthy and what isn’t, it can be totally confusing. One person is saying you need to eat loads of carbs to stay healthy, and the other person is saying that carbs are evil and you should have lots of fat. It doesn’t make it easy for you to decide what route to go down in terms of diet. There are, however, things you can do that are as old as time itself to help your body, exercise and sleep!  

The benefits of an active lifestyle have long been talked about, from increased blood flow to improving your heart to just plain feeling better in yourself.  There are many different things that people tout as a shortcut to weight loss, from special tablets that are potentially very dangerous to natural remedies like using lemon water. While squeezing lemon in a bit of water is very refreshing, lemon water is overrated and it is not as good a tool to weight loss as it was once thought to be. But when it comes to losing weight, it’s the cliché of move more and eat less. This doesn’t give you license to eat an apple and go for a 5-mile run! In fact, if you don’t eat enough, your body goes into “starvation mode.” The trick is to strike a right balance. The thing about exercise is that it doesn’t have to be the chore everyone thinks it is. If you think it’s going to be difficult, believe me, it’s going to be difficult! But by choosing an exercise that you enjoy, that is half the battle. Pick a high-intensity sport that you can play with a friend, like squash. You will get the exercise you need, plus it’s fun!

A lot of people think exercise has to be punishing and “no pain, no gain” is the best thing to do to your body. In fact, rest and recuperation are as important to building muscle or losing weight as the exercise itself, this is where sleep comes into play. The benefits of sleep are numerous, but we seem to think of sleep as a thing of weakness. A lot of people go to work on little sleep, thinking that they just need to power through. However, those people are doing a lot of damage to their bodies! Not only does your body need proper sleep to recover after a gym session so your muscles can recover (it is more important than consuming loads of protein!) but it is also good for your mind. Your brain does all of its processing during sleep, so you need to make sure that you get the right amount of sleep to feel recovered. This doesn’t mean you can sleep for 12 hours a day! Too much sleep is as dangerous as too little sleep, and if you are sleeping for an excessive amount of hours, you may need to check if you have a deficiency in a key mineral like iron.

Sleep and exercise are what we need to build our bodies properly. Combined with a good diet, you will be completely fighting fit!

From Teen To Adult In 4 Steps

All girls will go through puberty at some point between the ages of nine and fourteen. This is the point at which a child’s body starts to grow and get ready for adulthood. There are some big changes that occur in a girl’s body during this time, some of which can be very strange and hard to come to terms with. However, no matter what happens to your body during puberty, there is no need to stress out about it! We have all been through it before and know exactly how you are feeling. Here are five of the most common things that change in a girl during puberty.

Breasts Develop

One of the most obvious physical changes to occur in a girl’s body is that her breasts will start to develop. At first, she will develop small breast buds, which will then become more fuller and grow into breasts. Not only will girls start to see these developments, but they will also start to feel them. That’s because their nipples will become slightly tender and sore. If you do find that your nipples and breast buds become painful, this is nothing to worry about and perfectly natural.

Periods Start

One of the main changes that girls worry about is the start of their periods. Most girls start at around 12 years old, but some can be as young as eight when they get their first period. There are various signs that signal a girl is about to get her period. These include a dull ache in her belly and a white discharge from the vagina. Once your period starts, you shouldn’t feel self-conscious about it. As long as you are using tampons or towels correctly, no one will be able to notice. Be sure to maintain good personal hygiene during the period, as this can reduce the development of infections:

Notice The Opposite Sex More

During puberty, there will be some big hormonal changes in your body, and as a result, you will start to notice the opposite sex more. This means that you might start to fancy boys and could be sexually attracted to them. Even though you may feel ready to experiment sexually, you should wait until you are married. Abstinence is the best way to protect against unwanted guilt, regret, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections:

Gain Weight

Most girls find that they gain weight during puberty. This is a result of the hormonal changes, as the body is getting ready to bear children. You will find that your hips become a lot rounder and you start to develop fuller thighs and arms. Don’t worry, though; this doesn’t mean you are getting fat! It is just your body changing from a child’s into a woman’s! There are other factors that may affect the weight gain, such as going on the contraceptive pill.

Once you are prepared for puberty, you shouldn’t find the changes that much of a shock, and will be able to be happy throughout this phase!

What It Feels Like For A Girl: The Facts On Periods

girl-w-skateboardThere’s no getting away from it puberty can be embarrassing, awkward and downright painful. By now you’ve probably experienced buying your first bra, dealing with spots that seem to have sprouted overnight as well as hair growing in all sorts of weird places. Even though you don’t want to think about it, much less talk to anyone, it’s important that you understand what’s happening to your body. That emotional rollercoaster you feel like you’re on most of the time? It’s all down to your ovaries which, in turn, kick starts your body into producing the hormone estrogen which every woman has inside her.

Elsewhere, there’s other stuff going on too. If you feel like your breasts aren’t growing much, or growing at different rates that’s normal too, breasts continue to grow until your early twenties, so it all evens out eventually. The important thing to realize is we all go through it; it doesn’t last forever, and it’s a vital part of becoming a strong, healthy woman.

That Time Of The Month

You’ll feel bloated, crampy, annoyed or sad for no reason and things just seem that little bit harder. A period, or menstruation occurs because of the eggs your ovaries release every month, they normally last between two to eight days and can be irregular at the beginning. Your period happens when the uterus lining thickens to help an egg develop, but when you aren’t pregnant, the lining is then shed, released as blood out your vagina and into a sanitary pad or tampon. Despite jokes about ‘the crimson wave,’ ‘Niagra falls’ and ‘red devil’ the amount of blood present is tiny, only one to two tablespoons even though it feels like a lot more.

Just Like A Pill

Contraceptive pills are often used as a precaution against pregnancy although they can be used to help treat conditions such as Endometriosis, to regulate periods and even to make heavy periods lighter. It’s taken by millions of women all around the world for many different reasons. The contraceptive pill is taken daily and the tablet controls ovulation, stopping eggs being released as well as making the womb lining thinner, so any egg is less likely to attach. The thinner lining is what makes period lighter, which also tends to help with severe cramping as well.

Your Body Your Choice

Despite what you may think, not everyone is ‘doing it’ and many teenagers are often pressured into losing their virginity before they’re ready. Remember, your body is awash with hormones, and it can be a confusing, even frightening time for lots of young women. Nothing is a hundred percent effective against pregnancy or guilt, so it’s better to wait until you are older. In fact, many couples wait until marriage to have sex for the first time, which is a decision you will never regret!

Driving Alone For The First Time? Don’t Panic!

carHave you passed your driving test but still don’t feel confident driving by yourself? You are not alone. Many new drivers understandably feel the same way once they pass their test. When you learn how to drive a car, you always have someone there to guide and support you. So when you no longer have your parents or your instructor with you, it’s natural to feel nervous about driving alone. Your first drive by yourself will always be the more nerve-wracking and overwhelming. But it you are able to calm your nerves beforehand, you can have a safer and less stressful experience. So to help you stop panicking, read through these helpful hints.

Plan a short route

For your first drive by yourself, it can be beneficial to choose a destination and plan a route. This can give you a focus while also helping you familiarise yourself with driving alone. Perhaps you can drive to a nearby shopping malls or to a friends house. Consider destinations that aren’t too far away or difficult to get to. It can also be beneficial to plan a backup route too, just in case there are road closures or traffic jams. To give you additional support, why not ask your parents to follow you in their car. Knowing that they are nearby during your first drive can give you reassurance as well as boosting your confidence.

Keep your phone out of reach

The sound of a ringing phone can be a dangerous distraction when you’re driving your car. It can divert your attention and increases the risk of a collision. So keep your phone on silent and out of your reach to avoid temptation. This can also apply to playing loud music in your car too. You need to concentrate on the road during every drive. This can be difficult to do when you can’t hear anything but your music. So keep it turned down or don’t listen to it at all. That way you can remain calm and assess the road more effectively.

Know what to do in an accident

Despite their training, many young drivers aren’t always confident with what to do in a car accident. This can make them even more anxious and put them off from wanting to drive unattended. To ease your anxiety, you need to learn what to do before you set off on your first drive. Ask your driving instructor to go through the process with you or do some research online. Write a list of actions and keep this in your car along with your insurance details and driving license. Having this knowledge beforehand can help you to feel more confident when you drive. It can also ensure you abide by the law and help you get successful car insurance and personal injury claims if needs be.

While it can feel strange to be driving by yourself, to begin with, it is something you will get used to. It may take a few days or even weeks after passing your test before you feel comfortable. So learn how to calm your nerves and embrace the new found freedom and independence driving provides.

Dear High School Self

Dear High School Self,

Hello, my friend. I see you will be graduating in the spring. You’ve had trials, drama, and success the last few years. I know you still aren’t quite sure where you fit or what part you will play in life, so be patient. It will reveal itself along the way. It has been and will be worth all the effort you have and are making. Sometimes we race across the finish line with fanfare and cheers. Other times we seem to barely survive and crawl across. HOW you finish matters a lot less than THAT YOU FINISH. Keep giving it all you’ve got, and you’ll get somewhere worth being.

I know you have often wondered if you have what it takes to become something more than you are right now, or if there is even anything MORE out there. Trust me, you can do it. I know now that you will never be alone, especially on those long, dark roads you have and will be required to travel.

Treasure the remaining few months of high school. Don’t allow what you don’t have to rob you of what you do have. Attitude and what you choose to dwell on can make a difference. Don’t allow the “can’t do, so don’t try” people to control your life. There are great things out there for you to accomplish, and wonderful people to meet. Keep yourself in the game so you can be on the field when the really interesting stuff happens.

You think you’ve done some cool stuff. You will always remember your experiences in football, swimming, and music fondly. Having such passion and endeavors has kept you on your feet. I know you are planning to swim in college. You will have a great experience. It may not last long, but it will help set a pattern you will follow the rest of your life. Never hesitate to go for your dreams, or try to accomplish really hard things. Strength and learning are more often found in the path and the effort rather than in the end result.

Hold on and continue to develop that growing faith in the divine. It will become a solid foundation during some of the storms that lay ahead, and it will also allow the sun to shine all the brighter each day. He is there for you.

My young friend, I stand at the other end of the path, looking back over 43 years with a measure of envy. I am happy that you have so much in front of you. Life is a wonderful adventure and will take you amazing places. I see clearly the events that separate us and, with some insight, can say that who I have become is due to all the experiences combined. We don’t get to skip over the rough spots, and we shouldn’t want to. It is the good and the bad, the success and the failure, the joy and the sorrow, things lost and things found, that blend together to give our lives depth, color, and meaning. I see more clearly the meaning of your life, and it has been worth it. All of these experiences make it possible for us to become the wonderful and interesting people that God intended. One day you will see to live…truly live, love, and aspire to be something more…is glorious.

What more can I say? Thank you for making me who I am. As a result of all that has happened, I have found joy and meaning. You will too. I believe in you.

Your friend,

Clark Burbidge is an award-winning YA author, especially known for the trilogies “Giants in the Land” and “Star Passage.” In this letter he writes about what he wishes he could have told his teenage self. Clark talks about being patient because even if you don’t feel like you fit in now, one day you will find your place in the world. He also discusses learning to enjoy the moment and not to not spend your time worrying about the next thing. You can read more about him here: About Author Clark Burbidge