“Remember how we used to dream about marrying a rich and famous man when we grew up?” reminisced a friend. “We had such big plans for the houses we’d have and places we’d go with all that money.”
I hadn’t thought about those teenage dreams for a long, long time.
Today those long-ago thoughts make me cringe. Teenage me thought my future meant having a man, money, and lots of things. Sad.
Lots of years and tears later, I finally understood there was more to life than money, stuff, and status. External things can be taken away in a flash. And usually are. Sometimes more than once. In planning our lives, my friend and I never talked about who we might be without stuff.
Teenagers have all the answers, so I would’ve ignored advice to think broader and deeper about my life. It’s easier and more fun to talk about make-up, who has the new boyfriend, clothes, and who’s being mean to whom than it is to talk about confidence, resiliency, and acceptance. But looking back from the lens of “many years after,” there’s a number of “thought seeds” I wish my mom, an aunt or a family friend had “planted” with me. Maybe a few years and tears could have been saved in wising up.
Stuff that will make your life better. Promise.
Believe you’re good enough just as you are. No need for the extras—a man, lots of money, a certain handbag, or a fancy address—to be complete.
Be blissfully, boldly, proudly you, not what your friends are. Belonging to a “tribe” should be fun, not stifling. What makes you different is what makes you special. Glory in your curly hair, chunky thighs, crooked tooth, A-cup bra. Why blend in when you can stand out?
Love your life partner for what he or she is, not for the things he or she can give you.
There will be times when you’re scared to death. Let fear propel you forward, not stop you in your tracks.
Don’t get sucked in by people with narrow minds and closed hearts why say their way is the only one. Stand your ground. Be strong. Have an informed opinion. Do your own research.
Embrace, not mock, who and what is different. Kindness and acceptance make the world a welcoming place; cruelty and exclusion make it small. A big heart, a warm smile, and an open mind bridge many a difference.
Plan for what you want your life to be when your face is wrinkled, your boobs saggy, and pants with elastic waists are part of your wardrobe. Looks fade, goodness on the inside doesn’t.
Find a life partner who knows you’re beautiful on the inside and doesn’t care about wrinkles or saggy body parts.
The need for sunscreen, balancing your bank account, safe sex, exercise, eating fruit every day, paying attention to the car’s gas gauge, building a nest egg, paying bills on time, writing thank-you notes, heartache, and gratitude never goes away. Make room for them in your life.
Don’t think that you have to be doing something every minute. Staring out the window at the bluebird in the tree feeds your soul.
Give yourself permission to experiment, to make a mistake. Then do it again. Perfection is so over-rated.
Life isn’t an either/or choice. Both/and is much better. Buy both pairs of shoes. Appreciate people and things. Live for now and the future. Give and get. Have the salad and the fries with your burger.
Write your own story. Follow your dreams, not those of someone else. Don’t let the “the good girl” myths hold you back.
Get comfortable with not everyone liking you. Don’t waste your time trying to make them like you. Be calm and move on.
Don’t let the sun set without having learned something new and having told someone you love them.
Join with me in planting these “thought seeds” (and maybe a few of your own) with a teenage girl who’s in your life. Let’s spare her a few years and tears.
Image source: Dreamstime