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  • Edited by Laura Schaefer

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

Last week, 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. We’re at over 60 responses now, with intriguing 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 Two: 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!

Someday, you'll turn your parents into liberals, but it takes time.

Everything can wait till tomorrow. Think lots before doing anything but don't just sit around and do nothing. What matters most is that you are always kind and thoughtful.

You are very important but so is everybody.

Don't give so much power to the pretty girls. Ignore them and do your own thing.

You are doing the right things, having the right thoughts and have the right group of friends to keep you on the right path. Do things for yourself to be happy and not what you think people want you to do.

High school is going to be hard, and it doesn't matter that you don't fit in. People will laugh and tease...ignore them and stay true to yourself. Their opinion of you doesn't matter.

Don't be afraid to be who you are. Doing what you think everyone else expects will never make you happy.

The zits WILL go away.

It's okay to need help. Admit to yourself that you need help, so you can ask for it sooner, instead of letting problems grow bigger.

Don't be afraid to ask for help is SUCH a good thing to understand - whether it's problems with friends or classes that you want to not be confused about. Understand that teachers actually do want you to succeed, even when it doesn't feel like it; but you do have to reach out for help sometimes.

And really...attendance doesn't have to be everything. Sure, don't slack; but sometimes if you're sick, BE SICK; if you have an opportunity to travel, TAKE IT; that time and learning time management and communication through that can be really good to learn.

I would teach myself about normal and appropriate development of the brain during the teen years. I wish someone important in my life would have known about The Whole Brain Child. I also would have told myself to absolutely join the wrestling team.

Having a guy you were kinda high school dating long distance die in a car accident made me always want to never give up, never say no, and always think, "If someone wrote a book about your life, would anyone want to read it?"

Don't let the _____s get you down!

If you are into something, like I was theater, photography, making video, and space...explore it fully. Beyond what your school offers. I wish I had gone to space camp. I wish I had been more involved in community theater. Learned about film photography. Taught myself stuff I was interested in. Not just let school dictate what I learned.

In good times and in bad, remember these four words, "this, too, shall pass."

You will make mistakes. Learn from them.

Speak the truth as best you know it. Apologize, even if it means nothing to the other person. Drugs and alcohol do not help any problem. Meditate daily. Follow your heart. Money will come and go, your conscience stays with you. A small gesture can make a huge impact, be kind. Never stay silent when you see a wrong. Silence is no different than doing it yourself. Forgive quickly, smile often, and enjoy the ride.

Keep a journal because no one will believe you otherwise. Evil doesn't stem from an act, but from a lack of action. Pick a path that's best for you, not what your (parents/friends/whatever) think is right for you. Potential cannot be measured, but action can. The best partner in life is someone very much like yourself.

No one has it all figured out. Not your 13-year-old friends, not your parents, not your teachers. And you won't get it all figured out. But that's what makes life worth it.

Don't try to be Like everyone else. Take time to find your own awesomeness.

Never change your plans to accommodate a guy, the right one will accommodate you (or you'll find a better one at the next stage). Don't drink so much, smoke so much pot, or sleep with so many people. Take care of your depression BEFORE it wrecks you. Don't go to law school - get your teaching license!

Just because you're not good at sports doesn't mean you can't play them.

Wear sunblock. Then, wear more sunblock. The best is yet to come.

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