My eldest daughter is soon to turn 13 years old. It feels like a big milestone for a girl, even though just yet she isn’t at all interested in growing up. Where I was itching to be a teenager, she’d rather stay 12 for a bit longer, thank you very much.
Well, dear girl, I couldn’t be more proud of the person you are right now either. Like you, if I could freeze time, I would. Sadly, like so many things in life, we don’t get to decide. Not one bit.
Here are 13 other things I want you to know as you turn 13 (but not really, not yet, never).
1. Work on the things you can change
So many of us waste so much time focusing on things we have little to no control over. Like birthdays rolling around year after year whether we are ready or not. And other people’s minds. And periods, you can’t change them either. Believe me, if we could…
In fact, there are so many things you can’t change, but you can control how you react to them. You can choose to quietly endure, find the bright side, or focus on the negatives. It’s all up to you. Matter of fact, the only thing you can really change or control in this world is you.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others
There’s room for everyone to do things in their own way. You do you. Be inspired by the creativity and work of others, but never for one second think someone else’s achievements makes yours inferior. We all shine in time.
3. Always, always stand up for what is right
Be the person who is confident enough to stand up for your values and what you know to be right. Spend your life getting ready for the moments when your voice matters. Have confidence that if you are first to stand, others will stand behind you. They might not feel able to go first, but I promise you, they will have your back. So, no mater what, stand up.
4. It’s not always about you
People have their own reasons for doing things. Sometimes it will make you sad, or mad or worried or heartbroken, but most of the time it won’t be about you. Try to remember that. That said, don’t hesitate to tell someone to fuck right off when they are out of line. It’s not always about them either.
5. Keep yourself safe
You never, ever have to do something you don’t want to do, just because someone else wants you to do it. Trust your instincts and get the hell out of there if you are uncomfortable. You can say no at any time. You can leave at any time. You can scream, tip over the table, knock a few heads together and storm the building, if that’s what it takes to keep yourself safe.
6. Nothing is forever
When we’re in the middle of something challenging, it feels like it is never going to end; that life is always going to be like this. I can assure you that everything passes. Even dodgy stuff on the internet isn’t ‘forever’ forever. Learn from mistakes and hard times and they won’t live on at all. Oh, and sadly, the same is true of good times. They can be fleeting too.
7. Materialism makes us lonely
You can never look good enough or have enough of the latest stuff. When you start chasing that kind of thing (and so far, you’re actually running in the opposite direction, you awesome person), you’ll never catch up to yourself. Balance out the screens with long walks with 3D friends, world travel, reading good literature, taking care of something old and helping someone out. That’s the stuff your soul ‘likes’.
8. You are all the company you need
It’s okay to be alone sometimes. You don’t need to fill every moment with other people, either URL or IRL. It’s hard to feel left out or excluded, but at least you know you’ll be in good company if you are. Work on being the best friend to yourself that you can be.
9. Your quiet opinion is worthy
You’re a careful thinker and a quiet kind of person – just the kind of person that the world needs to hear more from. Please don’t ever let the loud ones (like your mother) monopolise the conversation.
10. Pay attention to the moments
How you spend your moments is how you spend your days. So work on your daily habits and pay attention. Make your bed, take care of yourself, eat a rainbow, dance, do at least one good deed every day, notice nature, ignore the haters. Every grain of sand contributes to the beach.
11. Be curious
Look up, ask questions, be wrong, lift rocks, listen without judgement, follow your instincts, wonder.
12. It’s okay to be vulnerable
So many opportunities are lost because people don’t want to be wrong, or look silly or step on other people’s toes. The good news is, if you’re the kind of person who can laugh at yourself or humbly own up to mistakes, you’ll get to find those opportunities. Looking like a fool is really no big deal in the scheme of things.
13. We will always be here for you
You don’t ever have to do anything alone, unless you want to. We are here to help you figure life out without judgement, ridicule or unwanted interference. You can call on us, night and day, whenever and wherever you are and we will be there for you. Even if you feel ashamed, or are worried about getting into trouble, or can’t find the words, call anyway. There is nothing you could ever do that could make us turn away from you.
What do you want your girl to know?
Image by Zhen Hu