You know those posts that start with: 10 Things I wish someone Had Told Me When? I never read those things. What’s the point? Sure, if someone had told me that some days, being a teenager was going to feel like climbing Everest with no shoes, on the coldest day, naked, maybe I would’ve been better prepared. But probably not. And besides, I wouldn’t be who I am today if someone had given me all the answers. There’s no manual for adolescence or early adulthood, it’s a damn free-for-all, a real life Hunger Game. Not even a compass would have helped me navigate the labyrinth of uncontrollable emotion, angst, fear, self-loathing, and unrealized narcissism back in my high school days. And If there was a manual, it’d be on the New York Best Seller’s list for all eternity, the Bible would sit around collecting dust, and parents would be popping champagne in celebration. So where am I going with all of this? Well, I’ve had a change of heart, and I feel like pulling the big sister card. If only one girl reads this and only one point resonates with her, I’d be over the moon. So here’s hoping I break down a barrier.
When I went back to school at the age of 28, I was surrounded by fresh-faced nineteen and twenty-year old’s. I watched intently as they explored the boundaries of their knowledge, flexed their assumed status and tested their influence over one another. Caught up in society’s misgivings, like puppets with invisible strings, fed a regular diet of mixed messages that oscillated somewhere between “you’re too good for everyone” and “you’ll never be good enough”. The transition from girl to woman can hurt like hell, and if you’re one of those self entitled “Millennials” that’s been mistakenly told the world is at your feet, you may not be prepared to have a door or ten shut in your face. Don’t worry, it’s not all bad, just know that you have a hell of a lot of growing up to do. Here here are a few words of advice, curated by yours truly and passed down by the most influential women in my life:
Be Confident. And then…Get Over Yourself!!
You’re probably asking yourself, “how can I do both?” Well, no one really likes an oversized ego. And there’s no room for it when there’s always someone out there smarter, wiser, more worldly or who can handle herself better than you. Don’t walk through life thinking you know everything, you don’t. This isn’t high school kiddo, the world isn’t waiting with open arms, you have to earn your place. That being said, when you step into a room, hold your head up, high, just make sure it’s not above anyone else’s (at least not noticeably!) Your parents may have treated you like a princess and think you walk on water, but there is nothing more unattractive than a young woman oblivious to her own faults and limitations. A confident woman always knows when and how to take her humble pie!
Value Human Relationships
Someone very close to me once lamented that women are far better at stepping on eachother’s toes to get to the top than giving each other a lift. Just because we share a similar anatomical make-up does not mean that we are required to join some imagined sisterhood, however, think about all those individuals who selflessly helped you along the way. Your mother, father, maybe it was a teacher, a grandparent, mentor or friend. You wouldn’t be where you are without them. If you see another human being struggling and it’s within your power to help and it’s not at the expense of your well being, do it. Don’t bully, belittle, conspire against or manipulate. Share, care, love and support.
Respect Everyone’s Story
Guess what, we don’t all come from the same place. Our socioeconomics, cultural backgrounds, geography, familial structure, gender, personal beliefs, they all shape who we are, right?! What makes your story so special? Or my personal favourite, what makes you think you’re more normal? What is normal anyway?! It’s true we tend to relate to others because we come from “similar” backgrounds because we feel akin to them. But break out of that mould, be the exception, not the rule. Open your heart and mind to alternative narratives. Toss the judgement stick aside, listen and learn. You are not the only one with a story.
Don’t roll your eyes at me. There’s a reason our mama’s and grandmama’s have been beating us over the head with this. Beauty fades, and fast! Take alllll the selfies you want girlie, but rest assured, when you’re 40, your boobs will most likely not be in the same place as they were when you were 25, boohoo! Yep, you’re going to get wrinkles, lines, grey hair, and if you choose to bring life into this world, gasp….stretch marks! Get over it, hell, learn to embrace it! Don’t buy into the beauty industry hype, worry about the bigger picture. If you can make it through your 20’s without (or better yet, survive) getting Cancer, HPV, contracting some horrendous autoimmune disease, losing your beloved, or any number of frightening things that can happen to young women around the globe, that is a victory. Invest in your brain before your beauty, and I guarantee you, you’ll go further in life!
Learn to be Solo
If you can’t enjoy your own company, who will? Being on your own teaches you a whole host of valuable things like how to take care fir yourself, how to depend on yourself, and how to be strong, on your own! There is nothing wrong with leaning on your loved ones for support, but playing the damsel in distress is cute for about 5 minutes. Don’t be a diva! That also goes for relationships. Jumping from one set of arms to another doesn’t allow you to grow, mature, or learn about your mistakes along the way. Take time to self reflect, grow and then move on.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
There are some of us (*cough*cough*) who needed to learn how to let others help. While flexing your independence is admirable, floundering needlessly is counterproductive. You may be determined to extract a hard lesson, or ensure you’ve corralled all the credit, it’s okay to share the burden (or the glory!)As long as you’re not constantly looking to be bailed out, reaching out is one of the smartest moves you can make!
You Are not a Feminist..Until You Understand What it Means!
Please, please, PLEASE, don’t toss the word feminist around like it’s a pair of old familiar jeans. It’s a powerful label, with powerful consequences. Don’t wave it around like a weapon. Understand what feminism potentially means to others, what it means to you, and how it applies to your life. Feminism is not a trend, passing fad or likewise; It is a state of mind.
Lie to yourself, and the world won’t take you seriously. Lie to the world, and the world will laugh in your face. You don’t have to be an open book, mystery is good, but don’t make yourself out to be something you’re not, it will eventually come back to bite you. Staying true to who you are is the ultimate form of self respect. Don’t be swayed by others negativity or indifference, and above all, trust yourself to do the right thing.