I know that Life’s lessons have to be learned through trial and error. You can’t take someone’s word for it, because each experience is different. But here are somethings I’ve learned along the way. Some pearls of wisdom I want to pass down to you, my lovely girl.
1) Be who you are and be it unapologetically. People will judge you no matter what. People will inevitably talk about you. These things will happen regardless of the choices you make and the things you do. So be You and make no apologies for it. “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” Dr Seuss said that. Pretty smart guy. Have some fire, be a force of nature, be you.
2) Not every friend will be a keeper. This is hard lesson to learn. Most of this will happen during your teenage years, as if those aren’t hard enough already. Some people will befriend you just to find your weaknesses. Some “friends” will ditch you for your ex-boyfriend. Some friends were never really friends, but people who wanted to use you for your car/popularity/money/etc. These are called leeches and they suck at life. Some friends will make high school a nightmare and in the end turn out to be your best friend. Remember that these people are fighting the same battles you are. Teenage years are difficult. Your hormones are going crazy, everyone is fighting to get to the top of the popularity food chain, and Life is having a great big laugh at your expense. I went through it; your father went through it. You will go through it.
3) Treat your body with repsect; it’s the only one you get. Unless you have some Kardashian money hiding in your mattress, that body is the only one you get. Treat it wisely. Don’t make hasty decisions when it comes to body modification. Never pierce or tattoo anything when you are angry, upset or intoxicated. Never tattoo a boyfriend’s name on you; you are a person, not a sign-in sheet. And for the love of all things Holy please don’t get tattooed or pierced while in Las Vegas. Not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Love your body, it will do amazing things. No matter your size or weight, embrace it and love it. There are more important things in life than your dress size. Also, NEVER LET ANYONE MAKE YOU FEEL ASHAMED OF YOUR BODY. As long as you aren’t letting it all hang out when it shouldn’t be, ROCK ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF
4) Never change who you are for a love interest. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth saying. The right person will love you as you are. Not who you think they want you to be. If you love Star Wars, don’t hide it. Your quirks and passions are what make you even more lovable. Anyone who would want you to become something you aren’t doesn’t love you to begin with.
While we are on the topic of love……
5) Sex is not currency. Your virtue is not a chess piece to be manipulated into an endgame. Sex DOES NOT = LOVE and VICE VERSA: While in high school I knew many girls that “gave it up” because their boyfriends’ said “if you love me you will”. Um no. If he loved you, he wouldn’t pressure, bargain or use any other tactic reminiscent of hostage negotiation. Life is cruel. Kids are even crueler. No doubt you will fall in love in high school. Probably more than once. Please just remember that Love and Sex are not mutually exclusive to one another. Your virtue is also not something to be dangled in someone’s face like a prize. You are not a carnival game. All the responsibility of this subject matter does not lie with the other party. You have to take responsibility for your body and your soul. Because what happens to one can and will affect the other. Here’s a good way to think of it; You aren’t fast food, don’t be cheap, easy or fast.
6) Find your passion and cling to it for dear life: For this will bring you peace in an ever chaotic world. If your passion is reading, never be willing to sacrifice that. If it’s photography, it will bring you the ability to see the world in a whole different light. If your passion is cooking or baking, be sure to invite your family over for dinner once in a while 🙂 If your passion is traveling, just be careful and check in every once in a while. No matter what it may be, if it makes you happy, it’s important.
7) Family Family Family: These are the people that the Fate’s saw fit to stick you with for your whole life. We gave you life. We nurtured you. We cut the crusts off of your sandwiches and made sure your nightlight always worked. We will embarrass you. We will make you cringe and cry. We will make decisions that upset you. We do these things because we love you and to us you will always be our little girl. There were times that I was certain my mother was on a mission to make my life miserable. Looking back now I see that the decisions she made and the rules she laid down were really in my best interest and she really did know what was good for me because she had already lived it. Your parents are the epitome of “Been there, done that.” So in 9 years when I tell you “No you will not wear a leather mini skirt to school”, even though you may hate me at that moment in time, trust me when I say I am making a decision that could prevent a chain of events that ends with you pole dancing to pay for your GED. Just sayin’. Trust your family. Trust that we will always be there. Trust that we only want what’s best for you. Trust that when you make bad decisions (and you will) we will be there to call you on it, and then help you pick up the pieces.
8) Own your mistakes: You made them. Own them. Blaming someone else for your mistakes is just tacky. But don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are simply lessons. Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect. Being able to admit you messed up takes guts. Have guts.
9) Always be honest: This goes hand in hand with owning your mistakes. I read a quote a while back: “I would rather be honest than impressive”. So much good comes from honesty. The right kind of friends. Respect. Admiration. Trust. No one wants to be friends with a liar. More importantly, always be honest with yourself. Trust your gut. It will never lead you wrong. Unless it leads you to Taco Bell at 3a.m. That’s usually wrong.
10) Be responsible: In every aspect of your life. It may not sound like fun, but in a world of so much blatant irresponsibility, being responsible will give you a sense of calm. Be responsible with your money, that way you don’t worry unnecessarily. Be responsible when it comes to auto maintenance. Paying for regular oil changes is less expensive than paying for a new engine. Be responsible with your body. It’s not a bargaining chip and it’s not disposable. Don’t treat it as such. Be responsible for you life. No one is going to live it for you. And if you are responsible your life will be markedly easier to enjoy.
11) Learn as much as you can whenever you can: I always said if I could be paid to be a professional student, I would do it in a heartbeat. Learn scholastic things, learn languages, and learn to change a tire. Actually definitely learn to change a tire. And your oil. Learn how to properly use tools. Learn how to make a killer Martini. Learn to read people. This is an awesome skill to have. From being in the Bar industry for so long, I have learned to read people. I can tell you if a person is a shady mofo within just a few minutes of meeting them. Learn at every opportunity. Turn every opportunity into a learning experience. Be a student of life. You will be better for it.
12) Be kind and don’t judge: You don’t know other people’s circumstances. You don’t know if a smile can change their whole day. Sometimes a kind smile or word can be the difference between life and death. Be beautiful in spirit. That is far more important than physical beauty. Physical beauty fades. It wrinkles. Kindness never fades. Kindness never goes out of style. Be kind, but take no shit. You are not a doormat.
And this last one is the hardest lesson to stomach……
13) Not everyone is good: I’m sorry sweetheart. Not everyone is a good person like you. Not everyone has good intentions. Some people have downright nasty intentions. Remember just a few sentences ago when I asked you to be kind. Some people will try to take advantage of that. Don’t let them. It’s not a weakness; don’t let them turn it into one. Know what you stand for and where you draw your line in the sand and never waiver. Always trust your gut; if something doesn’t feel right, you get your ass out of there like your life depends on it, because it very well may. Unfortunately in this ever declining world, more and more evil seems to be surfacing. Don’t let this make you afraid of the world. Just let it make you aware. I was once injured by and terrified of someone I thought I knew. And in my willingness to believe that people are good on a basic level, I opened myself up to another opportunity for this person to attempt to repeat their awful mistake. I will never make that mistake again. Some people are drawn to the darker side of life. Some people feel entitled to things and act accordingly and can’t fathom being told NO. So just be aware that not everyone is a good-natured as I hope you are. And please please please don’t let those people ruin your view of the world.