Ok ladies, taking off the kid gloves for this one. As a mother of teenage girls, sometimes we have to have those less-than-fun convos about life stuff. Not a nagging sort of "clean up your room" talk. The real stuff. The stuff that might seem a little raw and maybe not so nice. Truth be told, and my girls will attest to this, I am not a sugar coat it kinda chic. I say it like it is, Love it or hate it. I would rather be real and have someone not be happy with me than not be true to myself just to get approval. Those days are done. And, when it comes to speaking truth to my girls, especially as teenagers, I gotta keep it real. If you can't handle the truth, you may not love this blog. But, I assure you, it's important.
- Love and happiness are not found in anyone else. If you are trying to seek approval or popularity from other girls or seek attention and affection from boys, stop now. Think long and hard about why you do that. Even if you get what you think is love, or approval, or popularity from other people, you are looking in the wrong place. Time and time again, even the best of people, with the best of intentions will disappoint. Truth time: if you love yourself, you won't be reliant on someone else to do the job for you. I have seen this behavior in young girls who are now adults, and they still have an empty hole inside them, hoping someone else can fill it. Stop looking; that job lies within you.
- If your boyfriend or girlfriend acts like they don't care about you, they don't. Stop making excuses for people's crappy behavior, and more importantly, stop being a doormat. Place some value on yourself. My mom used to say, "if you step on me once, shame on you; step on me twice, shame on me." No one will place value on you, and show you respect if you don't do that for yourself first. If you aren't one of their first priorities, don't make them one of yours. Refer back to item #1.
- Dress for Success. It doesn't matter how much we preach inclusiveness, embracing differences, loving each other. People will judge you based on the way you look. This is true in middle school, high school, and in the real world. Judgement doesn't end, and has no regard for age. Smart people judge, nice people judge, your teacher will judge, and your boss will judge. Remember this—you are dressing for the part. If you want to be respected, dress respectfully and act accordingly. If you want a good job, show up for the interview like you want the job. I'm all about freedom of expression. Heck, I have a tattoo sleeve. But, I know when to allow them to show. Remember this when you decide to pierce your septum, or your chin or your brow... whatever. I'm alllll about it, trust me. But, when you are just starting out in life, and have to play by the rules a bit more when it comes to getting a job, or you need to show up professional for a volunteer position, those things do matter. When you're older, you can pave the way a bit more, and will have freedom and discernment to do so. Don't think that you can do whatever you want with your look, and people will just have to suck it up. You're wrong. People do judge. Don't let your desire to make a statement get in the way of future opportunities.
- Rules are a good thing. Barring poor or abusive parenting, the general parent creates rules, because they have made the mistakes and paid their dues, and are trying to free you from doing the same. Listen to them. Whether you want to hear it or not, they do know what's best. A parent's job is not to be your best friend, but to guide you to become independent, self-sufficient, hard working, and kind humans who actually will make a difference in the world. Pay attention and listen to the message, and chances are, you will save yourself a bit of heartache.
- Work it, girl. As soon as you can, start working. It doesn't have to be a crazy 40 hours per week, or limit your ability to play sports or have a social life. Yes, you can have it all. Start working and learn how good it feels to have your own financial freedom, buy your own clothes, and go out with friends, because you worked hard to be able to do that, rather than relying on someone else to pay the way. Most kids who work get better grades, and adjust better to the life/work balance when it comes time for college or your career. You'll learn how to work within a structured environment with someone's else's direction, and learn some valuable skills along the way. Even if it's food service, you are learning valuable communication and customer service skills that will help you no matter what. You are not too good to work, and should not rely on someone to always cover everything for you... unless you want to live in your parents' basement in your thirties. Have some initiative and take charge of your future. You'll be a better, more well-rounded, and adjusted adult for putting in the work early.
- R-e-s-p-e-c-t (in the words of Aretha Franklin). I know this may make me sound old, but somewhere along the way, respect has fallen by the wayside. When I was growing up, we would have NEVER wanted to land in the principle's office, get in trouble, or be reprimanded by a teacher. Now, it's no big deal, and worse yet, somewhere along the lines it became acceptable to talk back to authority... your parents, your teachers, your boss. Let me tell you now—it's not okay. It doesn't look cool, it doesn't make you a bada**. In fact, it makes you look bad... really bad. It will not get you anywhere except in trouble. If you keep it up, these are the very behaviors that will lead you to lose your job when you're older. Show respect for the people who raise you, for the people who educate you, for the people who give you a job, so you can make money. Respect is a very basic building block to good relationships with anyone.
- Don't buy in to the drama. I don't care where it starts—at your locker, in your class, on the bus, in the locker room, on Snap Chat. Just because someone is talking crap and bringing drama does not mean you have to join in. Rather than try to have the last word, rise above it all. There is nothing good that comes from drama. Refuse to buy in to it.
- You are freakin' amazing. You were created to be a one-and-only. You were given talents and gifts that you likely have not even realized yet. Please trust me when I say that each of us were put on this earth to do amazing things. There could be people in this world that need exactly what you have to offer. Embrace who you were created to be. Embrace your awesomeness. Even if you have things you don't love about yourself, focus on the good—the things you do love. And, if you want to make changes, do so in a positive and healthy way. Embrace your awesomeness.
- Social Media is not your friend. While social is great for beautiful photography, it is not a real accurate depiction of life. You are looking at the highlight reels of people's lives. Special lighting, filters, and touch ups contribute to an unrealistic reality. Do not compare yourself to anyone else, especially in the social space. Secondly, save important conversations for face-to-face interactions. Anything worth talking about should not be done over Twitter, IG, Snap Chat, or Facebook. This is where conversations can be misinterpreted since you cannot hear someone's mood or inflection.
- Think about the future. I remember having the conversation with my now 19-year-old daughter, trying to explain that middle school and high school are just small seasons of life. There are good parts, bad parts, but it is just a slice of what life has to offer. Even though it's important to have fun and be a kid, it's also important to think about what you want out of life. I'm not saying you have to have your entire future outlined and goals drafted. What I'm saying is that it's easy to get caught up in the school life, and not spend much time pondering what you want to take place after you graduate. You don't have to know all the answers, but you should be spending time thinking about your future. If you journal, consider jotting down a one-year, three-year, and five-year goal. Even if they're pie-in-the-sky goals, they are thoughts about your future. That by itself has some power to it!
While some of these 10 things may seem harsh, they are so important. This comes out of raising daughters, watching friends and family raise teenagers, and being a teenage girl once myself.
Being a teen is so hard, and comes with many demands and challenges. I'm hoping these 10 tips help navigate those years a little easier.