Early this morning while I was wandering around old dusty boxes, I found a letter I wrote to "the future me" years ago. Filled with grammar mistakes and beneath the twisted handwriting, there were the words of a thirteen-year-old girl full of dreams, struggles and questions.
Then, I realized that as a young teen there where so many things I wished someone had told me. So, I decided to reply despite my delay and share my advice with you.
1. Stop trying to be someone you’re not.
How many times have you compared yourself to those amazing people and then looked back into the mirror and finding yourself useless? While doing this, you’re not accomplishing anything but feeling like crap.
When this happens, I want you to turn your gaze to those people you admire so much, are their lives that perfect? Behind a model’s smile, there are hours and hours of training and restrictions. Plus, do you know this wonderful activist who inspired you? She hasn’t been home for three months.
Taking someone else's life just as an actor takes a role in a play, is a selfish and cowardly act not worthy of your time. I don’t say you need to throw away all your idols, quite the opposite, you should keep them as what they are: icons. Icons that inspire you to do your best with what you have.
2. It’s okay to be sad.
Some days you wake up being a mess, you don’t know exactly why you’re blue and that frustrates you. But you know what? That’s okay. Because without those gloomy days the bright ones would never shine.
There will be difficult stages in your life, lots of them. You will feel lost and confused. My advice is to keep moving, step by step, brick by brick. Time heals everything. Better phases always follow bad times. You will be told to battle your struggles, face them and be brave. But as one of my favourite quotes says:
“Sometimes you try the hardest, but things don’t work out the way you want them to. And it’s not your fault. Sometimes things simply have to change, and maybe, sometimes they’re for the better.” (Lilo and Stich)
Allow yourself to feel sad to feel disorientated, but always keep moving.
3. You’re beautiful.
Yeah, don’t give me that look, because it’s true! I know you have been told that beauty is an expensive hairstyle, a body type or even a voice tone. You’re not the first one that has tried to fit into those standards, and I’m not talking about your friends or classmates, since you already know that, I’m talking about something that goes way beyond.
For centuries beauty standards existed as a social expression to what people wanted to achieve, not the other way around. People materialized their goals as standards, it’s not a coincidence that in the early medieval times when starving was this first death cause, the beauty was found in curved bodies or on the other hand, during those times of war strong woman were embraced as beauty icons.
So how are you supposed to keep up with this changing fuss? It’s simply impossible, right? If such a variety of beauty standards could exist, it means that beauty can be found anywhere and anytime!
I want you to look at yourself honestly and sincerely. There is beauty in you. It might be in your distinctive curly hair or in the way your freckles spread around your face, and in that tinny whole that appears in your cheek when you smile. It might be in the sexy curve in your butt or the straight lines in your jaw.
Take my advice: write down your most attractive features. Maybe they will be more feminine, follow the current standards or maybe they will be exotic and different. There’s not a right answer. Beauty is everywhere.
Once you have them, I want you to frequently remind them to yourself. The point is that from this day beyond you should experiment ways to embrace them: they will be your lucky charm in your gloomy days, and they will give you confidence and strength.
4. Advice on Finding yourself
You’re at this stage in life when things start getting complicated. One day you wake up and there are so many decisions to make! People expect you to figure out who you are and who you want to be in a blink of an eye while you feel like a bunch of unfitting puzzle pieces. You’re expected to find within yourself this coherent subject that fits into a category a standard, just like a role that locates yourself in your accorded space in society.
But the answer you’re looking for is quite simple. It only takes a little perspective to understand that you’re not a bunch of broken and contradictory pieces neither a consistent whole. You’re the reflection of what people see in you. You’re a daughter, a son, a friend, a student a granddaughter, a sister, a brother, and so much more!
Those stages in your life were never contradictory. It’s normal to be shy in a context and an enthusiastic extrovert in another one. With some people, you can be “the responsible” one, whereas others will find in you a refreshing mess. And that doesn’t make you two-faced, it simply makes you human.
So, stop searching inside of you this little person who knows the right path. Otherwise, try to look inside out. No one is going to mutter next to your ear the answer, quite the opposite. Interests will appear and disappear like a breeze. One day a friend will recommend you an incredible book that will start your passion for reading or you will discover how refreshing it is to help children understand their homework. Don’t let your interests define you, never restrict your horizons and be open to going further. Since when choosing to study science forbids you to enjoy art?
And lastly, don’t be afraid to be mistaken. There aren’t wrong answers. Every step you take will open a door to new people, knowledge, abilities; and if they don’t turn out to be the ones you expected to, they will still be a part of you.
Although you might think this big decision determines your whole life, the reality is that life can’t be determined. My advice is to enjoy every single second of it and never, never, never stop searching for new horizons.
I hope this advice helps you carry on through your journey. I remember I was told that my teens would be the best time of my life, I never believed it, but as soon as you leave them behind you start missing them.
Remember to always keep moving but also take breaks, not everyone is at the same rate, you just have to figure out which one is yours. And if you feel alone try looking to the people around you. I promise that every single one of them is going through or had gone through similar situations.
Finally, enjoy this while you can, every second of it, do all those things you want to do, explore your interests, don’t close yourself to a single safe space and defy those rules that restrict you!