10 Things I’d Like To Say To My Pre-Teen Self

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Youngsters have it easy: no financial pressures, no job, no responsibility for anyone but themselves. However, being young can be tough—especially when you are entering your “pre-teen” years. You are expected to act maturely, and make the right decisions, yet, you are oftentimes still considered a “kid,” and are treated accordingly. Sounds confusing, right? Plus, your hormones are out of control, which only amplifies the drama in your life.

I remember this time well. I look back at my pre-teen and teen years, and recall loving school; I had many friends, was part of various clubs and after-school activities, I loved class (for the most part) and maintained a pretty good GPA…but, no matter how many fond memories I can recall, I remember just as many painful pre-teen memories. The truth is, everyone is insecure, unsure, frightened, sad, and even cruel during these formative years—but the good news is, it gets SO MUCH BETTER.

If I could visit my pre-teen self on those especially tough days, here are some things I would say:

  1. You are not fat – Stop saying you are fat, and stop letting your friends use that term. It’s toxic, and it’s almost always untrue. Eating right, and continuing to stay active will not only make you feel better, but will stop you from obsessing over your body. PS. Your body is beautiful.
  1. You are not ugly – Another toxic and untrue accusation. Although hormones are causing your skin to look a little crazy right now, it is all temporary. You will be glowing again in no time—plus, this will not stop you from meeting boys and making friends. Your inner beauty, kindness, and confidence will always attract others in a positive way. I promise.
  1. Give Mom and Dad a break – They have been divorced since you were 3, and you never quite forgave them for dividing the family, struggling as single parents, and making you travel from one home to another. Well, suck it up. They did it for YOU and your sister, and one day you will thank them for putting their kids first. Everything they do is for the two of you, and believe me, they are exhausted, every day.
  1. Value family time – It sounds cliché, but your beloved relatives will not be around forever. I’m not just talking about Grandma and Grandpa, but others may unexpectedly “go” before you know it. Value family time, and spend time asking relatives how they are doing, tell them about your life, and encourage them to tell you stories. You will be happy to have gotten to know them on a personal level.
  1. That boy who dumped you doesn’t matter in the long run – Seriously. Almost NO ONE marries the dude they dated when they were 13. The thing is, break-ups suck, and they really hurt when you are young, and boys are insensitive. Hold your head up high, and don’t feel like you have to compensate. You will have many boyfriends in the future—boyfriends who appreciate and respect you, and vice versa. The only boyfriend that will truly matter, will be the one you meet when you are a secure, happy, adult. He will treat you well, and even put a ring on it.
  1. Don’t fall into the “mean girl” routine – It’s tough not to follow the lead when it comes to your friends, but beware of unkind actions. You may find your friends cracking jokes about a peer, or insisting to eat lunch as an exclusive group and turning away others—this is not cool. This behavior is ugly, and will get you nowhere in life. Always think about the person on the receiving end of these actions. What is their life like? Be a leader, and stand up for this person. You will look back one day, and be so proud of yourself.
  1. Don’t let boys (or anyone) pressure you – This is what your Parents tell you, and of course it goes in one ear and out the other. But this is probably one of the most important things I can stress to you, my pre-teen self. You will regret giving-in to boys before you are ready – or in love – and you will regret letting poor choices interfere with school, ultimately breaking the trust you had had with your Parents. Remember this when you are in high school and college too!
  1. It IS cool to be smart, and even cooler to apply yourself! – I know, I know, it sounds cheesy, but it’s absolutely true. Dumbing yourself down, or not living up to your potential is one of the worst things you can do in life. Even now, you are setting yourself up for a successful future, but it can all be lost if you don’t continue to put in the work and reach for your many goals. You will see in 15-20 years, your peers who pushed themselves to succeed, have fulfilling careers and opportunities to do whatever it is they desire. Most likely, they are living very happy lives. You will be living this way too, as long as you keep your eyes on the prize.
  1. Popularity doesn’t matter beyond High School – This may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t. The minute you graduate, and step off campus for the last time, you will realize that the “real world” couldn’t care less if you won Prom Queen or not. Rest assured, your status will be judged based upon your achievements in higher education, career, community, as a partner/spouse, parent, and as a person functioning in society. Focus on sharpening your leadership skills, interpersonal skills, and always look for ways to expand your knowledge base.
  2. Don’t be in a hurry to grow up – Please! Enjoy being young, and have FUN! Be silly, and innocent, and savor the last years you have as a child. Right now, you are only expected to behave and go to school—how easy is that? Enjoy being free and creative, and take the opportunity to learn as much as you can. One day you will be an exhausted adult, wishing you could be young and free again. Plus, once you are on your own, Mom will not always be there to make her famous beef stroganoff for dinner.

-Lauren T.

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better

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In the weeks leading up to a new blog post, I always find a theme floating to the top. This time it was the theme of failure. A heavily charged word that probably provokes a tightness in your chest that is equivalent to a childhood mentor berating you. In American culture, we have a difficult time even speaking the word “fail” or “failure”. It has become the new “F” word!

A couple weeks ago, a colleague shared with me one of the most profound points of awareness in her childhood coming from her father. She had been dealt one of those losses or disappointments that we suffer when we are young and not unlike most of us, it felt like the end of the world. She so clearly remembered how her insightful father took this opportunity to set this time apart for the young woman that would reset her understanding of failure. He handed her a list of repeated defeats and failures of a person and asked if she she had any idea who that person was? She explained that she didn’t and her dad explained this person overcame all these losses, disappointments and failures to become the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln.

My colleague informed me that moment has forever changed how she saw disappointment and failures. She understood that if a remarkable man in U.S. history like Abraham Lincoln could face and endure such trials and failures, she certainly could fail, fail again and fail better. She was in good company.

The more I thought about the American culture of fear and condemnation around failure, the more palpable it was in the air around me. This past week, Oprah sat down with Pema Chodron, Tibetan Buddhist Nun and author, to talk about a healthy embrace of what failure does for us as living, breathing organisms (humans). She talked about what the experience of failure can teach us about just being human and more intimately, about who we are expanding to be. To deny the process of failure out of fear or ignorance blocks a fundamental human life experience. Pema challenged all of us to look inside and find out what that failure was meant to teach us. She stated that she gave a commencement speech at her granddaughter’s graduation where she challenged the students to go out in life and “fail, fail again and fail better”.

My understanding of what Pema Chodron was inferring by this charge was only by failing repeatedly can we continually raise the bar on the expectations for ourselves. How powerful is the concept of the complete elimination of fear of failure? What would you do if you not only didn’t worry about failing but you embraced the process of failing, to fail again, then in the hopes to fail better?

Go out today and attempt something, anything without fear of failure knowing that the intimate belief in yourself that allowed you to dream big and take the leap will always be a mark in the win column for you. If you fail, and the bigger you dream, the better chance of failure, know that you are in great company!

-Cheryl L.

October is Bullying Prevention Month

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month and I thought the quote above was apt for the topic. There really is no replacement in the world for kindness. Yes, it takes effort. Sometimes it is difficult to show kindness when others aren’t showing the same respect. With that said, you will never come out behind by being the girl or guy exhibiting kindness. You will never look back with regret about showing kindness — for you never know what the other person is truly going through. I have found this especially true in my life. Be that catalyst in your community supporting others, not engaging with someone trying to pull you into their negativity or destructive cycles, and through sharing kindness. If we all adopt this as a belief, we will change our communities. Bullies won’t have as much of an audience or following, and there will be less miscommunication between parties who may have otherwise had a potential bullying situation.

My hope for this week’s blog is to provide knowledge and resources around bullying prevention. Please see below for what Stopbullying.gov defines bullying as. You can also scroll down to find some online resources for bullying awareness, as well as some other useful links. The YouTube video included illustrates the power imbalance needed for bullying to take place. It’s really a great visual to watch. My question to you is, what can you do to change the cycle?

-Alex W.

What is Bullying?

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Resources for everyone:

Pacer’s Nationals Bullying Prevention Center

Building Capacity to Stop Bullying

stompoutbullying.org

GLSEN Bullying Prevention Resources

Resource for adults:

How Adults Can Help Stop Bullying

What Is In A Word

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“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” -Yehuda Berg

Here’s some food for thought (or words for thought). Some things in life we don’t have a choice on. How we choose to articulate and communicate with others is something we have complete control over. As the quote above expresses, you have the ability to uplift others with your words, or not. With that in mind, why not spruce up on vocabulary! I found this great image illustrating synonyms for the word “great” in my online web perusing this past week and felt it worthy of passing along. I encourage you to share with a handful of friends, peers, or family members just why you think they are so TOP-NOTCH! Be that catalyst in your community that spreads more positivity, encouragement, and better energy through your communication!

-Alex W.