Are you 17, or going to be? Do you have a child who is 17, but can’t recall those days yourself? Here, I present you: 17 things to know about being 17.
#1: If you can, get a job!
At this age, you juggle a lot: Schoolwork, socialising, planning the future… and believe it or not, finances come in to play. (Especially if the 17 year old drives/is learning to drive). I have two jobs- one as a sales assistant at Homesense, and one as a tutor- and I wouldn’t survive without them. Like most teenagers, I get financial support from my parents, but without my jobs I would have no CLUE about budgeting. And, like most teenagers, I love to spend. Having a job enables me to do this (without sending my parents into utter debt) whilst still saving for things like university too. I can’t express how much more the worth of money is appreciated once you start earning for yourself. This is all without mentioning the social skills I have earned from working; I dread to think how shy I would be otherwise.
(Also, if juggling schoolwork with paid work is your biggest concern, then GREAT! You get to gain valuable time management skills too- yippee!)
#2: You’re legally allowed in front of the wheel…
To drive or not to drive? That is the question.
When I turned 17, I quite literally attacked the idea of being a driver. Within two months I had bought a car (Again, get a job!) and am currently learning. I don’t regret starting to learn so soon, but your bank account really feels the impact. I want to warn fellow 17 year olds that when you buy a car, you don’t just ‘buy a car’. You buy road tax, insurance (which is ridiculously high for youth like you and I), a tonne of petrol, a lot of driving lessons and fees for your theory and practical test. Basically, you spend more than you’re even worth. (I kid, of course.)
On the bright side, you get to drive! And, you prevent the myth of ‘as you get older, you get more scared to learn’ from coming true.
#3: A-levels, A-levels, A-levels
Must I say more? A-levels gradually become your life, and you gradually lose the will to live. But hark! I hear it gets better. Meet your deadlines, revise hard, and remember: Sixth form is only 2 years of your life.
#4: The university hunt begins
If you’re stressing about this, you’re not the only one. The last stage of your education (if you choose to go to university), your first true experience of independence, and most of all: your new home for 3-5 years! Having not gone through the uni experience yet, I have little advice to offer- I guess we are all in the same boat. But, I think a key point is to visit the unis you are interested in! Websites can be deceiving.
#5: You start to see true colours
I’ve found that it’s certainly true that with age and educational stress, the claws start to come out. Steering clear of drama is always wise, and being careful with who you trust is essential! (Not to make you all paranoid humans who can’t trust or anything.) You find that some friends aren’t the same people you first became friends with, but that’s something you need to accept. Afterall: Everyone’s true colours come out eventually.
#6: Procrastination becomes your new best friend
Procrastination is the only enemy you want to make. Get rid of it; fast.
#7: People like to party
17. That awkward age where you aren’t old enough to go out and drink, but it becomes Year 12’s biggest craze. House parties become very common, and are a good way to socialise. And whilst it’s okay to get the drinking out of your system, steer clear of drugs. Not cool.
#8: The battle of optimism and realism begins
Do you play safe, and aim for the realistic career aspiration? Or, do you dive in for that dream job that so few achieve? I think balance between optimism and realism is so important. Obviously, if you’re predicted all U’s, then don’t be applying to Oxford or Cambridge. But, a stab in the dark is good too. All great things need a bit of risk!
#9: Smile; you’ll have wrinkles one day anyway
I find it easy to fall into a trap of thinking my world has ended when one small thing doesn’t go my way. Relatable? In reality, we will be facing much more difficult challenges in the future. And if that’s what you’re worried about, then stop this instant! I’ve learnt that worrying doesn’t change anything. Live in the present, smile, laugh, and cross bridges when you come to them.
#10: Hormones go c-r-a-z-y
Laughing one minute? Crying the next? Aren’t we all! Some things we can’t control, so let your body do its thing.
#11: (Listen up parents!) Be controlled by no-one
All parents want the best for their children. And sometimes, that means they feel the urge to nudge their children in the ‘right’ direction. Unfortunately, it’s not your parents living your life; you are. Parents and siblings etc are great resources, but do what’s right for you.
#12: Try new things, pursue new hobbies, go new places
Do you remember when you were a child and everything just seemed so much more magical? Well, we are getting older by the day and need to utilise what magic is left. If we don’t try things now, will we ever? Past experiences inspire future ones, right? So surely, the more experiences you have now, the better your future will be.
#13: Teach yourself the skills that aren’t taught in school
Try to learn to cook, especially if you’re going to be a uni student. Try to get your head round taxes and adulty things like that. (Side tip: If you get a job, look out for if you’re emergency taxed. If you are, claim it back asap!) Even things like people skills aren’t taught, but are essential for your success more often than not. Use your initiative and learn- you won’t be spoon fed forever.
#14: You aren’t classed as a child for many things now…
Just remember to tone down the makeup or hair gel if you want cheaper cinema tickets.
#15: Social media is a huge influence on your life
Most of us are scrolling using facebook, instagram, snapchat and twitter almost constantly. Telling you to stop would be hypocritical (because I too use social media a lot). However, try to remember the advantages of social media (looking for opportunities) as well as the disadvantages (such as deteriorating people skills.)
#16: Keep doing the things you love
Despite going to school, studying, working and doing whatever other things you have to do, it is so important you allow time to do what makes you happy. Don’t overstretch yourself, and certainly don’t feel guilty for keeping up with your hobbies (like I often do). This age comes with stress, but noone is expecting us to become emotionless, working machines. Well, I hope not anyway.
#17: You’re only 17 once
Make the most of it.
As a 17 year old, I am just offering advice I’ve learned along the way/ things I wish I knew a long time ago. Some may agree with these things, some may not! All in all, it’s a pretty great age. A lot happens in the year of being 17, but I reckon the feeling of surviving it is pretty damn rewarding.
Stay on top, keep smiling, enjoy life.