Take it from someone who made it out of teenagedom all in one piece: there’s no magic formula, but the most successful people I knew then, and know now, share a lot in common. The ride gets bumpy, but they find ways to hold on tight to who they are, and who they’d like to become. I don’t have it all on lock-down, but here’s what I’ve picked up along the way.

1. Learn about you.
We’re all surrounded by people telling us what to do, what to say, what to think, and who to be. Eventually, you have to grab the steering wheel for yourself! Exploring different interests can be scary and awkward but those are the times you often learn the most about yourself. Ashton Kutcher once said, “I’m continually trying to make choices that put me against my own comfort zone. As long as you’re uncomfortable, it means you’re growing.” The more you know about YOU, the easier it becomes to navigate the challenges ahead.

2. Find friends who support you.
Whether a new friendship comes easily, or takes time to grow, the important thing is to focus on what matters. Your friends should: 1) Support you in good times and bad; 2) Be a positive force; and
3) Help make you happy (seems a little too simple right?). And remember friendship is a two-way street, so don’t forget to return the favor.

3. Express yourself.
Everyone needs an outlet to express what’s going on inside, and it’s important to find out what that is for you! At some point most of us were probably told to write things down or keep a journal, and guess what… there’s a reason for that!

We’re all human and need to be heard! And sometimes the best listener is an inanimate object.

4. Be patient with love.
Every day we’re bombarded with images of what love should look like and what to expect. The reality is that love and relationships require time, communication, and confidence. Before we can put all that energy and effort into getting to know someone else, we need to make sure that we’re focusing on finding ourselves first! (Remember step one?)

5. Stay fit and active.
It’s not even so much about looking good (although that’s a nice side effect), it’s about feeling good! With today’s technology there are so many ways to stay active safely and responsibly, and a great way to get started is through fitness and health apps.

6. Get smart.
The human brain functions in a similar way to your other muscles, and sometimes it just needs a good workout. If something is difficult for you then you will just have to work it out a little bit harder and eventually that muscle will strengthen and grow. It is also OK to make mistakes and stumble because that’s just a natural part of the learning process. Even Albert Einstein, that genius who we have all heard of, has said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

7. Be aware of your choices.
School is mandatory, tests are mandatory, college is pretty much mandatory… it’s so easy to feel like you don’t have any control over your life. But you do! The most critical moments aren’t always the ones you think they are. Sometimes they’re in the small moments, the moments when it’s just you and a friend, and a choice. YOUR choice.

8. Accept advice.
If you’ve stuck it out this far, then you’ve already got this one down. Most people who take the time and effort to give their advice genuinely have your best interests at heart, so hear them out. It never hurts to gain more perspective.

9. Build independence.
Parents, guardians, teachers, coaches, they won’t always be there to swoop in and save the day. Be your own superhero! Its pretty empowering to see what we can accomplish on our own. This is your life and the best person to live it is YOU!

10. Set goals and follow-up on them.
After taking the time to learn about yourself take the time to put that self into action. Make a small list of a few simple things you want to achieve and come back to it as much as you can. Some goals may take longer than others but the key is to be persistent and try your best.