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  • Edited by Laura Schaefer

What Advice Would You Give Your 13-Year-Old Self? Part One

Have you ever been a part of an internet comment thread that took off in a really positive, awesome way? It’s amazing when it happens, perhaps because it’s kind of rare. Yesterday, I threw out a question: “What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?” I expected maybe five or six answers from my friends. Instead, dozens of reflections poured in. I think we’re at over 50 responses now, with cool digressions and lots of diverse insights from women and men in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties.

It was a great moment for the internet. I want to share the responses here in a new three-part blog series. Behold, Part One: What I’d Tell My 13-Year-Old Self. I hope new teens out there take a look. What would you add? Contact me with your entry and I’ll place it part two or part three!

Don't be in such a rush to "grow up." Don't worry about what others think, and be confident in yourself. You don't have to do EVERYTHING.

It's hard because the advice I'd give myself wouldn't have been received. I was deep into an eating disorder and other self destructive behaviors. I was worthy of love and respect - from myself and others. That said, the experiences I had taught me to appreciate all i have rusty and have made me a much more empathetic person.

Start finding ways to travel and explore now. Don't be afraid of the unknown or doing things solo.

Learn to play the piano.

Chill about your grades, girlfriend, and learn to say 'this isn't working for me.'

Sure, clothes shouldn't matter, but at least figure out how to dress nicely and actually do it if you want to ask a girl out.


Hit back.

Wait longer before doing everything. Don't lie to your parents. Slow down. And I wouldn't have listened to any of it. I still do some of the same things and make some of the same mistakes. We are who we are. We may learn to temper ourselves, but deep down we are who we are.

I was literally just having a conversation with someone the other day about "perfect attendance." WHY was that such a big deal? What did that accomplish? A fellow mom was telling me that her daughter is NEVER sick so her brother gets to have sick days at home with Mom, but she's always at school. Mom now makes a point of playing hooky once or twice a year with her so that she also gets some time out.

Stop trying to be someone else. Be the real "you". If others don't like it, that's their problem.

No one else knows what they're doing either. Everyone is improvising. Your parents are just people. Labels can be changed.

Keep a diary and hang onto it. Also, store in a safe place any/all letters you receive and hang onto them too. Floss daily. :)

Calm down, it will all work out.

Learn guitar. Sing in public.

It gets better.

Be who god created you to be. Focus on positives and invest in your body mind and faith formation for a healthy self. Have fun with friends as boys take a long time to mature.

Don't let anyone talk you out of the things you love because they aren't "cool."

Study as hard as you can and get great grades so you can get a scholarship to a west coast school and never go home again.

Don't slouch. It might make trouble for you in your 30s. ;)

Befriend the weird people, not the cool people. The former turned out interesting, the latter turned out (and I now realize always were) mean.

I know that everything seems like the MOST IMPORTANT in your life right now, and it is, because you are so young. When you're older, you probably won't even be friends with those girls who talk behind your back. They will still be mean and you will be kind and successful. Don't play into the drama. It's not the end of the world if someone doesn't like you. It usually means they dislike themselves.

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