Well, it happened. This past week, I celebrated being alive for a quarter of a century. Birthdays haven’t really had the same effect on me as they used to, so I honestly didn’t think it would have much impact this year either…but I woke up on November 20th and my mind was blown. How did this happen?! It’s not possible, because it was just yesterday that I was asking myself “when will I be all grown up?”
Congratulations, little Brittney. You’re an adult. Happy now?
It got me thinking about my younger self, and all the things I wish I could go back and tell her. I wish I could stand in front of the teenage version of myself and show her everything I’ve learned since then…because thankfully, I’ve learned plenty. I would probably slap her once or twice while I’m at it, but mostly I would just want to guide her. What would I say? What would I have wanted/needed to know back then?
25 lesssons for growing up:
- You’re beautiful. You will be surrounded by gorgeous girls on tv and in magazines…stop comparing yourself to them. You don’t look like them and you’re not supposed to. You look like YOU for a reason, and you’re perfect the way you are. Stand in front of the mirror and find the things you love about yourself. Try to see yourself through everyone else’s eyes, and find confidence through that. Beauty comes from within, so make sure you expose that beautiful soul.
- Do your homework. School isn’t hard. Pay attention, study, and get good grades. Just do it. I know you’d rather be doing something more fun, but you have it so easy. Trust me…it gets tougher.
- Keep your circle small. I know it feels like the friends you have right now are your “best friends forever”, but they’re probably not. Hold onto the ones that matter and don’t stress it if you lose a few. Chances are, they weren’t going to be there after graduation anyway.
- He’s just a boy. You’re going to meet a lot of guys in the future. You’re going to fall in love more than once, get your heartbroken a few times, and when you think you can’t take it anymore…you’re going to meet “the one.” This guy you’re crying over in the bathroom stall, isn’t him. Wipe your tears and go find your girls, because he doesn’t know how to take care of your heart right now. Just like you, he’s only a child.
- Respect your parents. I know you guys have been through a lot…but they love you, and they’re just trying to do what’s right. One day (sooner than you realize) you’re going to have a child of your own, and you’ll get it. Parenting is hard, and most days, you don’t make it any easier. Give them a break…they’re doing the best they can.
- Don’t lie. It’s a bad habit you picked up from when you were little, and there’s no need to do it. Let others accept you for who you are. Be honest with people – you might be surprised that the truth actually does set you free.
- Weight is just a number. You’re not going to be able to binge eat fast food like some of your other friends without having to deal with the repercussions later. Your weight will fluctuate for many years to come. That scale will be your worst enemy at times, but don’t let it get you down. Stop standing on it every day, eat what you want…and when you’re truly ready to see a change, I can promise you that you’re going to look and feel great, and you WILL rock a bikini again. Oh, and you’ll have awesome curves. In the future, that’s a good thing.
- It’s okay to mess up. I’m sorry to tell ya, but you’re going to make SOOOOO many mistakes…and that’s okay. It’s all about the lessons you learn after making them, and what your decisions teach you in the end. Pay attention to every wrong turn you make. You’ll be thankful one day, I swear.
- Be an individual. Following the herd is for cows. Ignore the crowd and be yourself. Blending in is overrated, and standing out and being unique will be surprisingly awesome.
- Be confident. Without sounding too vain, because well, I’m you…you’re pretty great. Hold your head up high and believe in yourself. Once you start, the rest of the world will see it too.
- Save the drama for mama. Not literally your mother, but save it for someone else…because it’s unnecessary. Stop being dramatic and try to grow up a little. Whether it’s friends, boys, family, or yourself…handle situations with maturity. You’ll get better results that way.
- Family is everything. Friends and significant others will come and go, but your family is forever. Skip going out this Friday night and hang at home. Go to that family gathering and visit with your relatives. Spend time with your parents and siblings. Appreciate them…they might be crazy, but they’re all yours.
- Open up. I feel like a bit of a hypocrite for this one, because even now, I’m still a work in progress. The next couple of years are going to be really hard. You’re going to need all hands on deck, and you’re going to need everyone’s love and support to help get you through…even if you don’t want it. Open up your heart and your mind, talk to the people you feel comfortable with, let them in. I know you can carry a lot of weight on your shoulders…but you don’t have to. You’re not alone.
- It’s okay to laugh. Just because times are hard doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life when the opportunity strikes. You’re still a kid, and although it feels like you have a lot more responsibility and stress than you should, you need to remind yourself that it’s okay to act your age and laugh a little. Let it help to distract you, if only for a little while. It really is the best medicine.
- Money isn’t everything. You probably haven’t realized this yet…but you’ve had it pretty good up until now. Things are going to start changing, and you’re going to have to adjust to an entirely different lifestyle. Don’t worry, you’re going to do fine. In fact, you’re going to surprise yourself and grow up to be one of the BEST money savers in the world. (Well, in our world at least.) It’s scary, but money isn’t as important as you think it is. Keep your priorities in check and remember all the things you’ve been blessed with. Life is more than just a piece of paper.
- Follow your passions. Whatever you feel strongly about, big or small, let it drive you. As you age, you’ll start to see that you’re supposed to be doing more of what society expects you to do, and less of what YOU want to do. Follow what you love. It’ll give you purpose, and set you on the path to finding out a lot about yourself.
- Crying is good. You’re not weak for letting the tears flow whenever you need a good cry. Don’t bottle up your emotions…let it out. Gladly accept the offer to cry on a loved ones shoulder. Be vulnerable. One day, you’re going to cry at everything…and I mean everything. If you think it’s embarrassing now, just wait until you’re wiping your eyes while watching sad “pet adoption” commercials. Do it now while you still have your dignity.
- Speak up. Don’t be a pushover. Stand up for yourself and speak your mind. You are not a doormat, and don’t ever allow yourself to be walked all over as such. Know your worth.
- Be responsible. I know you’re just a kid, but this trait will come in handy…especially in the workplace. Do what you’re supposed to do, do it efficiently, be on time, and take it seriously…nobody likes a slacker. You’re going to be rewarded, and your future bosses will see this as your most valuable quality.
- Timing is everything. Sometimes you’re going to wonder why a certain situation didn’t go the way you wanted it to. Things aren’t going to go as planned, and as frustrating as it will be, you’ll usually find out why soon enough. Everything happens when it’s meant to. Give it time.
- Don’t judge. You never know what someone else is going through. We all have a story…even you. Don’t judge what you don’t know.
- Fall in love with love. Loving someone who hurts you will definitely leave you jaded. You’ve been hurt before and unfortunately, you’ll be hurt again. Don’t let your heartache ruin it for the next one. Get out there and experience it all, the good and bad. It’ll only make you tougher. Love is scary and a huge leap of faith, but it’s incredibly wonderful. One day, you’ll meet someone who slaps a bandaid on your heart and makes it all better…permanently.
- Be kind. I know you’re not a loyal Ellen Degeneres fan yet, but you will be…and once you are, you’re going to repeat something over and over again on a daily basis. “Be kind to one another.” Please, please…listen. Be kind to everyone you meet. No matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like, or what they believe. It takes zero effort to be nice to someone, and you have no idea what a simple smile can do for another person. You will never regret kindness. The world needs a lot more of it.
- Don’t rush. Life goes by so fast – enjoy it. Savor every moment. Stop rushing it…you can’t get this time back.
- Don’t be afraid. I know things are scary right now. You’re wondering if and when things are going to get better. You’re curious about your future, and nervous that you’re not going to find your way. Hang in there, sweet girl…you’re going to make it. You’re going to take a path that is long, windy and bumpy…but absolutely worth it. I promise you that you’ll find happiness and love in the most unexpected places, and learn something new every day. You’re going to be just fine…I promise. Spoiler alert : All your dreams come true.
I hope that somewhere out there, my younger self can hear me. I hope she believes that she’ll be alright, because she will be. I hope she’s proud of me, as I am so proud of her.