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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.