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Dear Joy, You’ve just set foot in the University of Benin. It’s not only your first visit to the school where you will spend the next 5 years of your life, it’s your first time on a University campus. Sixteen years old, eight months out of secondary school, you feel no excitement or confidence; you’re just a very nervous teenager whispering into your cousin’s ears every now and again, “Everyone is looking at me; they can tell I’m new.” Of course, you will realize less than a week later that with all the stress of registration, getting accommodation and all the other attendant pressures of a new session, probably no one even noticed you, much less everyone. Yet the mind of a teenager is one that sweats not only the small stuff, but the really small stuff. In addition, teenagers see adults take every little thing seriously, and it’s easy for them to assume that this is the best way to live. Oh Joy, how I wish you wouldn’t let the small things in life get you down. So many of them won’t matter in a few years. Not everything is worth your attention, so be careful not to spread yourself too thin. People will sometimes deliberately and persistently try to rile you. Cultivate the art of deciding on what things to engage and what things to ignore. It’s like driving. Sometimes people are rude to you, come up too fast behind you, tailgate you and even flash their lights, or honk their horn. Instead of vindictive solutions such as “give them a tongue lashing”, “slam on your brakes”, and “slow down to annoy him” why not simply stay calm, pull over and let them go have their accident elsewhere? This applies to life as well. Think before you speak. Take time to process your thoughts before you articulate them. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help or support, but it’s counter-productive to share every thought, insecurity, and negative idea that happens to be in your mind; that’s basically throwing up on your friends. Know that you are enough. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. There is ample proof in the world that one teen can make a big difference. Mistakes are part of life; make peace with them. This goes beyond just saying, “everyone makes mistakes”. When you understand the importance of mistakes in the bigger picture, it’s difficult for you to be too hard on yourself. Always be happy for others. This strategy takes a slight shift in attitude, but it’s one of the easiest and surest ways to reduce stress. Keep reading every day, everywhere possible, as voraciously as you can; to learn, to relax, and even to escape. You have no idea how huge the dividends are, and how much this practice will mould you into an amazing woman. Before you’re out of your teens, you would have made several important choices. You’ll make plans based on expectations of a lucrative job, a blissful social life and a “happily ever after” marriage. However, “the best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry”. There’s nothing you can do about the curves life will throw you, but I can tell you this; by developing a positive attitude early, you’re laying the foundation for a relatively stress-free life.

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This article was first published on 31st May 2018


Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at]

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