Dear 14-Year-Old Me…
If I knew then what I know now, I could have potentially saved you from many-an-awkward-adolescent-moment. Sorry. But what doesn’t kill you… right?
Seriously though. If I could teleport myself back to the era of TGIF-watching, Discman-listening, Macarena-dancing, skort-wearing innocence, I would offer you these words of age-old (because at 27, I’m much older than you!) wisdom:
- ‘Different’ does not equate with ‘bad’. Sure, you drummed to your own beat a little, and your outlook might have been different from that of your peers but, one day, you’ll be happy you stuck to your guns. So you weren’t the ‘partying’ type? When other kids were out chugging beers and sparking up doobies (note the 90’s cult-film Clueless reference), you were… off somewhere planting trees, or raising money for a cause, or doing whatever else it was that you did? So what? Even if it didn’t seem ‘cool’ at that moment, there is nothing cooler than knowing what feels right for you at a particular point in time. When you grow a little older, you’ll loosen those strings, but that liberty will come as a direct product of having an intimate relationship with yourself (no, not that kind of ‘intimate’ relationship…), a relationship that only forms with age and experience.
- You know that ‘awkwardness’ I was referring to? Embrace it! So what if you wore a sweater (in sweltering heat!) on your first day of high school, tripped over construction tape, had hair that pouffed out to the size of a small country, and spent your lunch hour listening to The Coors ‘Talk on Corners’ CD, on repeat, by yourself, in the school cafeteria? So what if your classmates asked you if your boobs were ‘real’ (for the record: they are), because how many 14-year-olds can fill out a Baywatch-style bathing suit? One day, you’ll be a marginally less awkward version of yourself. You’ll look in the mirror, and looking back at you will be a confident and accomplished young woman who only wears sweaters when it’s cold outside, who understands the magic of good hair product, who is praised for her extensive music collection… and who still trips over construction tape. Damn you, feet, damn you.
- It doesn’t matter how ‘healthy’ you think you are. If you eat 50 of anything in a sitting (I don’t care if it’s dried fruit or candy), you will understand the true meaning of ‘you are what you eat’. Repeat after me: Portion Control.
- The half-moon eyebrow is never a good look. Put. The tweezers. Down. I said PUT THEM DOWN!
- You think shit is rough now? Just wait until you have bills to pay, people to answer to (who are not your parents or your teachers), and career decisions to make. I know, I know, a couple hours worth of homework and a test to study for seemed like a big deal to 14-Year-Old me. But it’s peanuts compared to what’s ahead. Enjoy your adolescence. Even if the challenges feel grandiose to you right now, when you look back in several years, you’ll realize just how easy you had it. And how truly blessed you were that, in those formative teenage years, you had it as good as you did. Many 14-year-olds were not as fortunate as you.
- Which leads me to… say ‘thank you’ more often. And appreciate what you have, rather than being disappointed in what you don’t. Maybe Mom and Dad aren’t caving into your demands for a cell phone or that skirt/t-shirt/pair of shoes you’ve been wanting for forever (when Brittany or Stephanie or Marcie had it like five months ago!), but it could be a helluva lot worse. Do you have clothes on your back? Check. Food on your table? Check. Parents who love you and have your best interest at heart? Check. Check. All right, then let me tell you, kid… you ain’t got it so bad.
- Last, but certainly not least: Don’t forget to BREATHE. Life does not give you anything that you can’t handle. Ok, I’ll admit, 27-year-old me is still learning this one too. But if 14-year-old me knew – and ascribed to – this, I would be way ahead of the game today…
14-year-old me, I love you. And I hope that the adage ‘better late than never’ applies here. Yeah, you’re a bit weird and awkward, and you say and do things that you probably shouldn’t say or do. But you’re going to pull through just fine. And if you have any questions, call me (errrrr, I mean once you manage to convince Mom and Dad of the many benefits attributed with a cell phone). I’m like the big sister you never had…