When my 20th birthday came to a close, I decided to reflect on the teenage years that were left behind me. The awkward girl in the birthday hat was me on my 13th birthday. With those teen years now over, I felt inspired to write a letter to my 13-year-old self and to any other young girls who might come across this post. So let me take a shot at this…
Dear 13-year-old Me,
First off, Happy Birthday! I hope I’m explaining this right, but your teenage years will be wonderful and terrible all at once. Congrats on riding your first roller coaster today. There will be tons of firsts (some hopefully lasts and others hopefully firsts of many). I know you’re awkward now, but trust me you’re going to get more awkward when the braces come along. You have no idea what is in store for you yet, although I know you have a vision in your head of what the future is supposed to look like for you. I hope I’m not disappointing you, but a lot of things have changed.
I know by 22 you said I was supposed to be married with like 5 kids in mind, but that’s not as realistic as you might think (LOL). I know I was supposed to be a nurse like mom, but as you grow throughout the years you’ll realize you want to help people in a different way. You’re a little shy and reserved, but soon you’ll find your voice. Turns out, being the annoying little girl carrying around dad’s old video recorder might pay off and you’ll actually chase your dream in the television industry. Keep being weird and making videos with your brothers (I know social media isn’t a thing yet, but basically thousands of people will think we are funny and watch our videos for some reason). Also, I know coffee makes you gag currently, but just give it a couple years and it will turn into a sexy, delicious cup of unicorn kisses. Not to mention become your source of you function and all around survival in college. Trust me on this.
The world is your oyster right now and I know you’re so ready to grow up, but slow down for me just a little. You’re very innocent now. Everyday you pull your hair into a ponytail and tie a bow around it. Soon you’ll take your hair down and rarely put it up again. You’re going to start to wear that cheap makeup you don’t really know how to apply yet, but walk around with confidence anyway. You’re going to learn how to be a “big girl”, but do know, it comes with a price.
You’re always going to be the girl with long blonde hair, who people are quick to judge. Unfortunately that’s just the way it is. Society has set its stereotypes for all types of people and you will learn to rise above it. Some people are going to be ignorant and not everyone will like you. You’re so sweet now and stay that way, but know that it’s ok to stand up for yourself and speak your mind.
On the other hand, you are going to meet so many amazing people. High school is great and awful. You’re going to make some of your fondest memories. You will have a pool of friends. The freshman girl living across the street (the one your mom keeps telling you to hang out with) will actually become your best friend. You will have countless sleepovers. You will obsess over boys and quickly figure out they are mean (news flash: they still are). You actually will be a cheerleader like you’ve always wanted. At 16, you’re going to fall in love with a senior football player. Fall so much in love that you think you’ve found “the one”. You have it all and you know it all. You’ve peaked. All sounds just like the movies you watch right? Not so much.
Eventually, many friends turn to a few good ones through high school and into college. You will learn boys can be mean, but girls are mean too (which I’ll never understand cause us girls should stick together, ya know?). Your best friend will move across the country. That first love will overtime turn into heartbreak. I’m sad to tell you, your heart is going to break. It’s going to break a whole lot. At times you feel like the world, that was once your oyster, is breaking underneath your feet (No joke there were times I literally thought I was dying lol). That’s the one thing about being a teenager, everything feels like the end of the world, but really it’s only the beginning. So cliché right? It is so hard to realize though. A little heartbreak is necessary in order to grow and find yourself.
You’re going to lose yourself along the way. The fun loving and outgoing girl will shut down, and get lost. It’s going to be so confusing, so don’t try to spend all your time thinking about why things happen. Don’t try to fix everything that goes wrong, but I know you’re going to try so hard too. Some things just happen that are out of your control and we don’t always get explanations. You’re going to find things about yourself you hate and you’re will struggle. You’re going to stop taking care of yourself for a while. You’re going to isolate yourself. Please take care of yourself and by that I don’t mean running a lot and limiting your calories. Eat foods that are healthy for you, find activities that make you stronger, and interact with people that make your soul smile. There will be really sad times and times you wish you were anyone else, but yourself. I so badly wish I could take that feeling from you, but you have to learn on your own what makes you happy. I think you’re beautiful now, but you’re not perfect, no one is. The sooner you accept your flaws the happier you will be. You’re going to accomplish so much and experience moments you wish you could replay forever. But you will also make a lot of mistakes and have humiliating moments. I know you’re going to beat yourself up about every single one, but I don’t want you too. All of the awkwardness will only make you more confident. All the weakness will slowly turn into strength.
Listen to your parents. Turns out they are always right. You’re going to disobey them, yell at them, and be the sassy teenage girl that you are (still am kinda sassy…ok a whole lot sassy), but they will be there for you anyway regardless. You will eventually realize that they actually do know what they are talking about. When dad always repeats himself, “Even the bad is good Leah”, there is so much truth to that. Bad things are going to happen, it’s inevitable. However, all the good times that are coming would have never came without the bad times. From the doors that close, others sooner or later will open…magical right!? All the things you pray about, you start to see unfold as you move forward. So please don’t lose hope and don’t regret anything because it made you who you are today.
Slowly, but surely you will look at the world with a different perspective. My biggest advice is this: Never let anyone make you feel inferior. Some people are just bullies and you can’t let it get to you. Other people are mean because they are unhappy with themselves or have their own unresolved issues. Just feel sorry for them. Please don’t worry about guys because they are still growing up too. Us girls all like to do that thing where we take a guy and try to fix them. Save your energy and tears, it won’t happen and you’re just going to lose yourself along the way. If anyone makes you feel like you’re not good enough, then they are not good enough to be in your life. The right person will come when you’re happy on your own. Don’t try to live up to impossible standards. Besides, how can you find someone special when you haven’t even found yourself yet? Also, it’s ok to be reserved, but be adventurous and know it’s ok to have fun! Go out of your comfort zone. Some of my best decisions and happiest moments were when I pushed myself a little out of my norm. We only have one life, hello!? Be a little crazy at least. My girl Marilyn Monroe says well behaved girls rarely make history (jk mom and dad).
In all seriousness, come out of your shell and open you’re eyes. You are going to be incredibly blessed, so try to focus on the things that matter. You’re going to be a lot different than you are right now. You will look different, act different, and think different, but I want you to know you’re going to be ok. I’d like to say I have it all figured out now that I’m a 20 year old about to graduate college, but I’d be completely lying to you. I have my fair share of rough moments (lol more like daily). I still have past pain in my heart and present struggles on my mind, but all of the happiness that I know is coming for you out weighs it all. It definitely does not get easier, but you will just get stronger. There is an exciting roller coaster ahead, way more fun and no doubt scarier, than the one you just rode. Say a prayer and hold on tight.