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Muireann Duffy

A Teenager’s Guide to Life

By Muireann Duffy, Scoil Mhuire, Ennistymon.

Highly commended, senior Clare Champion Short Story Competition

EVERYONE  says that being a teenager is the best time in your life. That’s easy for them to say when you’re going on ancient and decide to look back on your teen years through rose-coloured glasses.
Seriously, anyone who says it’s the best part of life has huge gaps in their memory, so if they complain about how easy you have it being 16, do the decent thing and ignore them. Don’t storm off in a huff and slam every door on the way to your room, that’s way too much effort. I suggest you simply tune out and when you think they’re done, say ‘I know’ as smugly as you possibly can, leaving them annoyed and you truly satisfied.
One of the hardest parts of being a teenager is that it’s a constant juggling act. Organisation isn’t usually the main focus, unless you’re just a little bit OCD like myself. But since teenagers already have the reputation of being slobs, don’t let the side down by arranging your books in your locker in terms of size and subject, not cool. There’s nothing wrong with your locker door not closing and spilling books and hundreds of utterly pointless hand-outs onto the floor.
As for your room, forget the wardrobe. Who needs one? The ground is the perfect place to keep your clothes and allows you to see them all at once and NEVER make your bed. A messy, unmade bed can look just as nice as a perfectly made one because, remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Your school-days are the best days of your life… fat chance! School is somewhere you’re made go to and work yourself to death, just like a jail, except those bright orange jumpsuits look appealing when compared to our school uniforms. Don’t worry about teachers – they’re programmed to hate you. It’s better to be on their good side but so easy to get on their bad side. They’re supposedly human so I guess you should give them a little credit but, really, they should feel lucky that they get to be in the presence of such amazing teenagers that are you and your friends.
Homework? Don’t do it! In my years of secondary school, I have devised an ingenious way of not getting in trouble when your homework isn’t done.
Step 1: For the first question, stay low and avoid eye-contact with the teacher.
Step 2: Look at the next question, find the answer and put your copy above it.
Step 3: Wave your hand in the air showing you’re desperate to answer the question.
Step 4: Read the answer straight from the book and bask in the glory of the teacher now thinking you have your homework done.
This little tip will get you through school.
When you’re a teenager, your friends are your life but enemies come just as easy as the friends do. Whether it’s jealousy or clashing personalities, ultimately they will try to make your life hell and, the sad thing is, you’ll do the same to them. They will bring out the worst in you and the only way to get over it is to be the bigger person. Laugh at their jokes, say hello when you see them, smile when they’re mean to you and turn the other cheek. It’s like what they say about being a lady – if you have to say you are, you aren’t. If you want people to think you’re actually an alright person, don’t say it, prove it. Turning the other cheek can hurt just as much as a slap on the cheek if you do it right.
People assume you’re going to be moody when you’re a teenager so why surprise them? Give them what they expect! Stomp around the place like the world is against you, which it probably is. Act like every little thing from days in town with your friends to nights out are the end of the world, making the argument that you will become a social outcast if you don’t attend. Also. the way you carry yourself says a lot. Whatever you do, never sit up straight. It implies to the teacher that you are paying attention and are willing to learn. Do your level best to sprawl yourself across your table. If anything, it tells the teacher that you’re tired and need a break, making them go easy on you. Forgetting your books for class is a must. Some of the best conversations with your friends happen when you have to share a book with them.
It’s easy to write about all the bad things, but even I have to admit that it’s not all bad. You’ll make friends you’ll go on adventures with, even when you’re old and grey and going about the place on mobility scooters. You’ll meet people, boys and girls, that will drive you up the wall but, like the Kelly Clarkson song ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Have the bant and the LOLs, because you’ll never be this young again and this is the oldest you’ve been so far. Be nice to your parents. Besides just being your parents, they will also serve as a long-term source of finance because, really, no matter how old you get, you’ll always be the adorable child they’d give anything for, just so long as you promise to put them in a nice nursing home.
As for brothers and sisters, be nice to them too because friends, money and all things like that are great but, when it comes down to it, your family is all you have. Take everything as it comes and don’t let anyone see you sweat or worry. Take care of yourself. Your health is your wealth, and only do what makes you happy.

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