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Erika L. Sánchez Headshot

One Latina Twentysomething's 12 Tips for Teens

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I am not a wise old crone. I am only 28 and though I have been successful in many realms, I am disgruntled about plenty of things. I am not a picture of late 20s perfection, by any means. But bumbling through life, I have learned helpful things that I would like to pass on. I have compiled some tips for teenage girls, some of which I learned by doing, others by judgmentally observing.

1.) Don't hang out with girls that are set on giving each other eating disorders. I know it can be tempting to hang out with the cool chicks, but the cool chicks are almost always dreadful. Have you seen "Mean Girls?" Please watch that as soon as you get home. Take copious notes. When you're older, you will likely run into these cool girls while you're visiting your old neighborhood. They will have a minimum of three children and look like life whacked them repeatedly with the stick of misfortune. You will try to be the better person and not delight in this fact -- but you will fail.

2.) In general, don't worry about being popular. You don't want high school to be your social apex. Trust me, the popular kids will be sitting at a sports bar 10 years later reminiscing about how they scored some point for some stupid game that no one even remembers anymore. They will be wearing sweat pants with elastic at the ankles.

3.) Please stop dating losers. One day you might be a 28-year-old woman looking back on her high school dating history with mild disgust. You might wince when you think of your pony-tailed boyfriend with the horrible grammar, unforgivable penchant for Metallica, and inexplicable love of dolphins.

4.) In continuation, please don't date older men. It might be tempting to date someone who has a mildly used Toyota Camry and can take you out to the "Red Lobster," but this can only lead to disappointment. Ask yourself this: what is so fundamentally wrong with these dirt bags that they have to lurk around the high school to find a date? (You will learn that if you're a reasonably okay-looking adult, you should be able to throw a rock and hit someone who will want to boink you.)

5.) Don't base any of your post-high school plans on your boyfriend. Let's be real. You will definitely break up and you will regret settling on the local community college.

6.) Don't smoke. I know how enticing it is to look street tough with a cigarette dangling from your lip, but if you're a bit vain like me, just think of all those premature wrinkles! There is certainly nothing wrong with aging naturally, but why look like beef jerky when you don't have to? Speaking of wrinkles, I know teenagers don't think about getting old. (I know, I know, old people are gross.)

7.) But seriously, start using a daily sunscreen. I've been using sunscreen since I was very young, and so far, I only have laugh lines. Those girls who tan excessively will be really sorry. It's all fun and games until you're a carrot colored 30-year-old with melanoma.

8.) Don't set your expectations about sex too high. Your body is set on doing the horizontal monster mash. Believe me, I understand. Just know that this will likely be very disappointing. It will be like when you're going to eat lobster for the first time but they overcook it and it's all rubbery and bland and you leave the restaurant with your head hung low like Charlie Brown.

9.) Also make sure your partner is equipped with prophylactics. Don't fall for the ole, "You can't get pregnant the first time" or the ole, "I don't like the way condoms feel." Only morons fall for this trickery. You should also discuss your stance on abortion before you have sex. If you were to get pregnant, would your partner be supportive of your decision to terminate the pregnancy? What if you would want to keep it? This conversation will surely be very unsexy, but so are babies. Also, please watch the movie Kids. Take copious notes.

10.) Develop a sense of humor. Believe me, there is more to life than being pretty. There is nothing better than making people laugh until they hurt themselves. A sense of humor will also help you get through life. Instead of looking up to talentless, emaciated celebrities (I'm looking at you, Megan Fox), admire smart and hilarious women like Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey. (They were weird in high school and look at them now! Wowza!)

11.) Please do yourself a favor and wear really stupid outfits that you can laugh about when you're older. I love that I thought it was cool to wear kerchiefs around my neck like Don Knotts
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12.) Lastly, cultivate your brain as much as you can. Read everything you can get a hold of. Be who you are. Be creative. Know that these are not the best years of your life.