Alright girls, whlie I may not be extremely wise just yet, I have reached the point of being an adult woman, and have tons of helpful advice for teenage girls to shell out. Oh, and if you think I don't know all about life's ups and downs, let me prove you wrong! I came from a perfect childhood, I'll admit, but my early childhood was disrupted by sexual abuse. Dealing with that in secret for years was hard enough, until divorce between my parents hit at age 16. Insecurity also led me to developing an eating disorder and going through a major depression at age 18, which left me dealing with an eating disorder for five years. Then at age 25, I lost my father in a car accident and went through a personal life crisis. To top it off, after that I was unemployed for two years with a college degree, and swarming in uncertainty, debt and fear. Yet, over the last three years of my life, I came through on top, recovered from my disorder, am now working in a career I'm passionate about, and somehow, by a miracle, I found the strength to survive it all. Yet, everyday I still feel deeply humbled by the grace I was shown by other people and am thankful I was stronger than I realized. As a teenage girl who had terrible self esteem, I can tell you that I've got tons of advice I would have given my former self, and while I may not be an expert on so many things, I am on a few! So, if it's okay, I would like to give any of you teenage ladies out there a few little pieces of advice to get you through the years when it can feel like the world is on the weight of your shoulders, but is really in the palm of your hands.
1. Don't Give into Peer Pressure
Here's a piece of advice that might sound like something your mom might tell you, but it is a great piece of advice for teenage girls that I kept near and dear to my heart. In high school, I was tempted by so many things, yet, somehow, deep inside, my own personality just didn't desire those things and even though I was the oddball, I never gave into things I knew weren't right. Trust me, as an adult you'll be thankful you stood up for yourself and your morals. Plus, in your twenties, or even probably a month from now, no one will even care if you joined in with the crowd or stood up for yourself enough not to cave in to silly temptations that are just down right wrong and foolish.
2. Don't Dress Trashy
If this made you laugh, good! Gosh, even when I was in school, some of the outfits back then were nothing more than an example of a cover for Maxim magazine ads! Women aren't supposed to look like those models, and most of us don't. Dress fashionable, but don't dress trashy. You don't have to cover yourself head to toe to still look cute, pretty and sophisticated. You'll thank me for this when you're in your twenties, I promise, and your mother probably will too!
3. Don't Eat Diet Food
For the love of females and food, please, please, please don't buy diet foods. Those bars, shakes, candies, prepared meals, etc. are not food and your body is smarter than you. It will know these foods are nothing more than chemicals, insufficient sources of nutrients, and those products will leave you hungry. This leaves you most likely to end up bingeing later on your favorite cereals, jars of sugary peanut butters and cookies. Yes, I've been there, over and over again enough to know. Real food is the best kind, and it won't make you fat, so eat more of it!
4. Your Skin Will Even Itself out Someday
I had acne as a teen, and it ruled a sense of insecurity so many days. I remember caking my face in makeup, using every anti-acne product my small paycheck would allow me to buy, and still dealing with acne. The problem was not only was my diet wrecking my hormones, but I was also a teenager when acne was almost unavoidable. Your skin will even itself out; I promise. In the mean time, please eat healthy foods, drink more water, and don't eat junk. Your skin will have never looked better and chances are, that acne might just go away!
5. Don't Allow a Guy to Ruin You
I forgot to mention that I suffered through two major heartbreaks all before age 18. I let both of them ruin me in a few ways I'm not proud of. Don't make this mistake. As a twenty-something year old, you'll be so thankful that you listened to me. I know "he" (whoever that amazing boyfriend might have been) was the best thing that ever happened to you, but life does go on. Plus, chances are, in a few years, you'll remember why the saying "If it was meant to be, it would have been" really does exist.
6. Find a Passion That You Truly Enjoy
It is sad, but so often, I turned to my friends wondering what they would be doing in college and for a career instead of really listening to myself. I wasn't the best athlete, and most people just thought of me as "the pretty girl." Yet, something I didn't give myself enough credit for was the fact of how smart I was, the passions I had inside, and how my creativity was the ultimate answer to my self esteem, career and motivation to keep on keeping on.
7. Find Your Inner Warrior
This sounds more like a corny quote you'd see on a wall at your yoga class, but hear me out. Along with all the fabulous life events you'll go through, which I hope you'll enjoy, everything won't be all peaches and roses! You're going to go through a lot in your life that will test your strength, test your patience, make you want to give up hope, and even make you lose yourself for awhile. That's okay! That's part of life, and as long as you don't give into that weakness, but take care of yourself, you'll find out just how strong you are. You have this innate ability inside of you to overcome more things than you could know. When you actually overcome obstacles, with even an ounce of grace, humility and appreciation for yourself and your strength, you'll evolve into this amazing, strong woman that can conquer anything the world brings her way.
8. Move Your Body
You don't have to be the best athlete to take advantage of some good movement. Get out and play in your yard, take a jog around the block, take a casual walk, or do some simple yoga. I wasn't into sports, so I thought exercise was pointless. I figured if I couldn't play basketball or softball that well, that I probably wasn't the best exercise expert either. I wish I had appreciated my body enough to move it more instead of watching all that pointless television so much. It would have made me happier, healthier and more confident!
9. Junk Food is Just Junk
I lived out of the high school vending machine, snacks at the local drugstore, and milkshakes at most fast food restaurants. I figured if I wasn't eating meals that I was dieting, and now I look back and just shake my head. Junk food makes you feel like junk, won't help your body image, and doesn't nourish you. Eat the foods that might sound boring for you like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains and lean protein. Your body will feel good, be at its natural weight, and dieting will become pointless. I don't care if your friends eat junk or not; care about yourself enough to take care of your body and your mind.
10. You Don't Have to Please Everyone
I have always been a people pleaser since I was born and could learn to follow rules. Pleasing people was what made me feel I was "right," "good" and accepted. You should of course do the right thing and follow the manners your mother taught you, as you should also listen to your teachers in school when they give you directions, etc., but don't let others' opinions of you rule the way you think about yourself. Not everyone will agree with you, approve of what you're doing, or think you're making the best choice for your life. Even if you're doing the right thing, the smart thing, and making the best decision ethically, people will still disagree with you. Listen to what you know is right, listen to what your inner intuition is telling you and not your hormones, and follow your own dreams because no one else's will ever make you happy.
11. Get a Job
I had my first job at age 15, paid cash for my first car, and didn't get a cell phone until I was 17. In today's world, that's almost unheard of, yet for me, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. My family did not have money and I had to work for what I had. By age 19, I had been working full time for two years, and still maintained an A average in school. Working is essential for developing your financial future. You'll need to learn to budget and manage your money now, rather than later. You'll also learn what it is like to work with other people early on, and be prepared for a job after graduation.
12. Respect Your Mom
As much as I love my mom and always have, I was not as nice to her as a teen as I wish I was. In fact, there are so many things I wish I could take back. Oh, and I cringe to say this, but she was truly right about so many things I was sure she was wrong about then. Respect your mom because she's not perfect, and neither are you, but she is still your mom. Show her the respect she deserves, because as an adult, you'll realize, more than likely, she's alwys been your biggest ally.
13. Laugh More
I tend to take myself way too seriously and always have, so learn to laugh more! Life doesn't get easier, but it is so much more fun with humor in your life. Laugh at your flaws, watch funny shows, have fun with your friends, and be lighthearted. Laughter is an addictive quality to see in a person, and while it should be genuine of course, it is also one of the best forms of medicine you'll ever give and receive.
14. Appreciate Your Body More
No, your body isn't going to look like a pop star's at age 16, and it isn't supposed to, thank goodness! I hated my hips and thighs with a dire passion in school, and was always insecure about my chest size, which was much smaller. Your body was made to be exactly how it needs to be as long as you're taking care of it. Appreciate it more! It is the one thing that will be with you when no other physical being is at times. Appreciate it, honor it, and respect it. It will thank you a million times in a million ways when you do.
15. Never Let Anyone Take Advantage of You
This goes without saying, but never let someone take advantage of you, whether through sexual behavior, or through verbal behavior. Never let anyone take away your self esteem, make you think you're worthless, or cause you to do something you wouldn't normally do. Stand up for yourself!
16. You Are Not Your Parents' Mistakes
Your parents aren't perfect and they're not supposed to be, so they will make mistakes. Remember that you are not your parents' mistakes. My dad messed up pretty bad in several ways during my teenage years that hurt my family pretty harshly. For years, I felt like I wasn't good enough as a daughter and I felt almost empty since I had no father figure for several years in my home. I let his absence and mistakes become part of my identity, which I shouldn't have done. Remember, you can be your own person, and though your parents' mistakes might hurt you and of course will affect you, you can learn to move on and develop your own sense of self.
17. Stop Doubting Yourself
Last but not least, stop doubting yourself! You truly can do anything you want. Make smart decisions that honor your heart, your future and your sense of self. Know that you have what it takes for whatever it is you want to do. Confidence is a quality that you can find in yourself no matter how shy or uncertain you are and it is found by taking one small step of faith that you can truly accomplish whatever it is you want with persistence, belief and determination.
I realize I may have left a few things out, but based on my experiences, these are the pieces of advice I would personally give any teenage girl out there. If you're a mom, or woman out of your teenage years, what piece of advice would you give? Or, if you're a teenager, what kind of advice would you like to have?