There was a time I was your age. While it feels like ages ago, please understand, when you look back at me, I was once in your shoes. You can sit there quietly. You can put on a brave face, but what I am not acknowledging when I sit there looking at you is that I know on some days you are fighting back tears. And, I won’t call you on it. I know when someone says, “Are you crying?” or “Honey, don’t cry.” You will, because I too had those very questions asked at your age and before I knew it the waterworks would turn on and I would be a blubbering mess into someone’s shoulder. It is like the question turns the faucet on.
Being a teenager is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you it is not. Friends from elementary and middle school that you proclaimed as your BFF, splitting heart necklaces and making pinkie promises suddenly disappear. Or worse, sometimes you actually feel like you are the one who has disappeared as you pass them during the school day without a wave or a smile. Your body is changing. Suddenly things are happening that you heard about in 5th grade health and you want to crawl under your bed sheets and stay awhile. You want to be a kid but you also want to grow up. You are learning who you are while navigating the halls of a school filled with judgment, pettiness, competition and jealousy.
But, here is the thing. This won’t last forever. These feelings you feel today as you scan Facebook to see what “he” is up to, or where all your “friends” are tonight, while you sit at your older sister’s home, they too shall pass. Because once you throw that cap in the air and earn your high school diploma, high school drama ends and real life begins. This I promise.
So, here are some things the real world doesn’t care about.
How popular you were.
You are going to graduate from high school and just like that, each and every one of you will scatter. Some will go into the workforce right away, some will take time to find themselves, some into the military, some into their hometown college and others will pack up and cross the country for school. But, you will scatter and you will start over, and I repeat, you will start over. So, popularity, in high school will soon in the snap of a finger mean nothing. College and / or the real world doesn’t gauge acceptance and hiring on how many people sat with you in the lunch room.
If you know how to contour your face or not.
Unless you are becoming a makeup artist, no one cares if you can contour your face or not. So, the need to be beautiful and cake your face in makeup is just plain silly. In fact, if you are not a makeup artist, don’t even try contouring. You are most beautiful without a drop of makeup on.
Who you dated.
Life goes round. Boys will come and go and your heart will break. If you are like most, it will break more than once and you will probably even break a heart or two, too. The thing is you are in that in between stage in life. Not quite a woman, and not quite a girl. It is the same for boys. Believe me. While it hurts today, in a few years you will look back and laugh. And, if you are anything like your sister, your brothers and uncles will one day pick on you for your young love crushes and choices.
Who Your Best Friends Are.
Friends will come and go. I promise you this. It will happen now and even when you become an adult. People change and adapt and because of this, so does friendship. Do not define yourself by quantity but by quality. One great best friend is worth the weight in gold than 10 sub-par “friends.”
But, here are the things the real world does care about.
Your Grades – Yes, this really is the main reason you are in high school. Take school seriously. Do well. Try hard and place your attention and efforts into learning and loving to learn. You never stop learning and high school is the stepping stone to what your future holds.
That You Can Multi-Task – Try out for the drama club. Play soccer. Join the Yearbook Team. Do all the things you want to do and possibly can! Use high school to your advantage. Show that you have initiative.
That You Respect Authority – A respectful teenager is a respectful adult and it goes both ways. Meaning, when you leave high school with the mentality that adults can be mentors and by exhibiting this trait, adults will look at you as a young adult with an equal amount of respect. Understand that you are not a know-it-all. Sometimes, adults know what they are talking about and their tough love is just that. They are guiding and shaping you.
That You Are Kind. Don’t be a bully today or tomorrow. Life is about acceptance. Be humble, be kind and don’t stoop to the level of others. My favorite Maya Angelou quote is, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Remember this. I promise you in ten years you will pass an old classmate in public and they won’t remember who your best friends were or who you dated but they will remember how you made them feel right now. Be the shining person who strives to be that very person that in ten years from now is remembered for being accepting, friendly and kind. It is a better legacy than the mean girls.
Finally, dear sister, go to bed each night loving yourself today. You are special. Hold your head high with self-confidence not self-boasting. Love yourself for your own reflection each day, never the reflection you see through others. Unless of course it is through me, because what I see is something beautiful!
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