Dear Teenage Daughter,
Last night when you told me that you liked listening to me give advice, I felt like I had literally won the lottery. Not because you complimented me (although as a mom, I will take all the compliments you would like to dish out), but because I felt like you were finally truly internalizing all the things I have been trying to teach you these past couple of months.
I vaguely remember being 13 and I think it is because it was such an awkward time of uncertainty and doubt that as an adult, I likely blocked out most of the bad stuff and only remember that I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to straighten my bangs (which, as a 41-year-old woman, I know see as completely ridiculous, because my hair is curly, which is why I was never ever meant to wear bangs, but I digress). I can't imagine what being 13 is like for you, but I cherish the moments when you reach out to me for support and advice and if I could imprint certain truths on your brain that I could be sure would stay with you always. These are some of the things I want you to know and to hold onto when you feel rejected, isolated, scared, anxious and you can't seem to find your footing .
1. Everything feels REALLY MONUMENTAL right now, but if you could just stop and repeat these words silently to yourself, " Will this matter in a year from now?" I promise you that your perspective will shift. You will realize that your current state of fright is temporary. You will not be frozen in time to continuously repeat or be stuck in this moment. So just breathe and remember this, too, shall pass.
2. Quality over Quantity. I know, at 13, you feel like if you don't have 30 best friends, you are essentially an unlovable reject. But here is the truth: if you have 30 best friends, you probably don't have one best friend who will really be there for you when you need them most. I know you think having a certain number of friends is what validates you, but please know this my sweet girl: I you look for validation outside yourself, you will never be fulfilled. True validation needs to come from within.
3. Remember who you are and to be present in the moment. If during the day you feel unlovable, you feel like you are out of the loop, remember who you are. Try to focus on being present in the moment and appreciating all the precious qualities that make you your uniquely wonderful self. If you are talking to a friend and constantly looking around to see who is having a better time, you are missing out on YOUR LIFE. You are not enjoying the present and being in the moment of your own experience. Remember that these hours and minutes and second you have on this earth each and everyone of them is precious. So, remember who you are -- and believe in it. And believe that wherever you are is where you are meant to be.
4. You are braver, more talented and more resourceful than you give yourself credit for. I know I am your mom so of course you think I am biased, but I have seen you, I have spoken to your teachers, I have watched you with your peers. I wish you could see yourself through my eyes, through their eyes and stop being so critical of yourself.
I love you so much and I know, even when you don't believe it, that you are pure magic and my most favorite redhead. LOVE YOU SO MUCH.
This post originally appeared on The Staten Island Family