I’m not a very emotional person, but every once in a while, something really gets to me and makes me want to cry.
Like when high schoolers are trying to be adults too soon.
I was at Target the other day and overheard a conversation between two teenage girls that broke my heart a little bit. It made me want to write a letter to all young women. So I did.
Dear little beauty,
I know everything feels like such a big deal right now, but it actually is all a big deal—just in a different way than you think. It’s not that a Tweet without enough favorites will be the end of the world, but the decisions you make today might be bigger than you imagine.
Guys are wonderful. They really are. But they are also complete disasters. If one of them doesn’t like you back, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. It just means that picture-perfect idea of the two of you together really isn’t that perfect. It’s not meant to be. Eat some ice cream, and let it go.
I know we already decided that guys are wonderful (while simultaneously being disasters), but I promise they aren’t so wonderful that you need to give anything to them before you’re ready. I don’t feel the need to be more specific than that. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. And if you think you want to do something, really think about if you actually want to do it. You might find you don’t want to.
It’s not nice to make fun of people or to say bad things about them behind their backs (or to their faces). This might sound weird, but you will actually feel better about yourself and life in general when you are kind to people. There’s a peace that comes along with love.
Your parents are not gifts of torture to you. They might actually be really cool grownups. Yes, some people really are in bad family situations and don’t have parents who serve as the best role models and support systems, but if you’re lucky enough to have parents who care about you, it’s not required in the adolescent behavioral handbook (which, to my knowledge, doesn’t actually exist in print anywhere) that you act like you hate your parents. When you’re an adult and practically best friends with them (OMG—the thought is so terrifying!), you will be sad you wasted so many years trying to rebel against them when they were, in actuality, simply trying to do what was best for you.
I’m not going to go into a tremendous amount of detail on this, but drugs can kill you. Alcohol can also kill you. Most drugs are illegal. Underage drinking is illegal. Temporary escapes from reality just aren’t worth it.
I know this is a crazy thought, but your teachers actually care about you. I can say this with certainty because I was a teacher. And I deeply cared for my students. I still do. Every.single.one. Teachers don’t have the easiest gigs in the world, and you don’t know what battles of their own they have to face on a daily basis. They don’t want you to fail, and it will surprise you how stuff they instilled in you will pop up later in your life in beneficial ways. It’s heartwarming.
Sometimes it’s hard to find friends you can genuinely trust. Even as an adult, you meet people who aren’t necessarily the individuals you thought they were. But there are some who are gems—they’re the ones who stick with you through the toughest times in your life and the best times in your life. They’re the ones who don’t judge you or make you feel like you have to be someone you aren’t.
Here’s the bottom line: you’re special. You don’t have to be like other people. You don’t have to try so hard to fit in or stand out. You’re wonderful as you were made.
You are valued. You are loved. And you matter.
Life doesn’t magically become some utopia when you enter the real world and become an adult. There’s still gossip. There are still pressures. There are still guys who will break your heart. There are still guys whose hearts you will break. There are still friends who aren’t really good friends. There are still temptations and bad decisions.
But the sooner you realize your worth, the stronger you’ll be when you have to take on anything life hands you.
God didn’t make any mistakes when He created you, and you don’t have to change who you are to please other people. You can achieve so many things. You can dream big dreams and not let people shoot them down. You can be confident and not care what other people think or say about you.
It’s OK to be you. It’s OK to say “no” to people. It’s OK to hang out with your family. It’s OK to wait to date or kiss or be in a relationship. It’s OK not to rush through life. It’s OK to wear clothes that didn’t cost a lot of money. It’s OK to fail sometimes. It’s OK to forgive people who hurt you. It’s OK to ask for grace when you hurt others. It’s OK to show love to people you don’t think deserve it. It’s OK to be scared. It’s OK to be brave.
And it’s OK to grow up in your own unique way.
I’m rooting for you—I know how you feel, sister.
Someone who understands