Tomorrow, I turn 40 wonderful years old. I honestly would not repeat my 20's. The 30's were pretty good.
I am the mother of 3 children. A preteen daughter that is 11 years old and 2 sons that are 9 and 6.
I remember when my mother turned 40 years old and I turned 13 the next day. We spent our birthdays on the Chesapeake Bay and I remember my mom saying she stayed up all night waiting for "something" to happen. She was a single mom and it was the two of us. I remember being the gawky know it all teenager. I could do it all myself. Boy did she struggle with me.
As I reflect on my life, my days as a teenager don't seem so far off. I genuinely do not feel 40, I like to think I don't "look" 40.There are so many things I now wish I knew as a teenager. I'm sure many wise adults in my life tried to share these secrets with me when I was teen, but I'm not sure I listened the way I should have. The same struggles that I am having with my own daughter. Hoping to make things easier for her, to not go through what I did.
So today's blog will be a little different. It will be about little secrets I've discovered along the way. Maybe if my daughter reads this she will understand a little more about "Dear Ol Mom".
Don't worry about having a big group of friends. What good does it do if you can't trust them? Instead, concentrate on building close friendships with a few reliable people. Be forgiving of your friends, but know when it's time to create space from them. If they try to drag you down with them, they are not real friends.
Value your family. Even if they make you angry or say things that embarrass you, be grateful they are around and in your life. Appreciate them, they love you very much.
Learn the power of saying "I am sorry." Genuinely apologizing for hurting someone goes a long way. Stop with the excuses. Take ownership for your behavior.
Look people in the eye. Making eye contact forms an instant bridge between you and another person. Practice talking to yourself in the mirror.
High school goes faster than you think. It is not the be all end all. Be involved. Become a part of your school. You don't have to be a jock or popular to fit in. See these years as learning years. Step outside your box and take some chances. Run for student government. Try out for the school play. Be a part of a team. Popularity is overrated. Sincerity is underrated. Look for the good in people, not just whether they are good-looking.
Find your own sense of style. Be who you are, not the person you think others want you to be.
Sex changes everything. If someone tells you it doesn't, they aren't being truthful.
Forgive your parents. They aren't perfect and they will make mistakes.
Listen to your gut. If something doesn't feel right, don't do it. If you feel pressured to do something, it's probably not a good idea. Don't let others decide the direction of your life.
Be cautious of overusing the phrase "I love you" in teenage relationships. Be cautious of underusing the phrase "I love you" when it comes to your parents.
Put energy and effort into what you love. Don't be afraid to fail. Failing isn't embarrassing; it's learning.
Getting a drivers license is a privilege, not a right.
Learn to recognize when it is time to slow down. Sometimes you have to slow down to regroup and refocus. Take a timeout.
Get a job so you appreciate a dollar's value. Learning the importance of hard work is one of life's most valuable lessons. If you are given everything, you will appreciate nothing. Set goals. Don't expect things to be handed to you. How good is something if you never have to work for it? Stop with all the computer toys. Put down your cell phone. Turn off your iPod. Quit texting for a few hours. Learn the value of a good book.
Your heart will get broken. And it will heal. One day, you will meet the right person and you will be grateful for all the heartaches. It will teach you who is right for you and who is not.
Listen to your grandparents when they tell about their lives. Their stories are part of your history.
Get to know your teachers. Regardless of what you might think, they really don't want to see you fail their class. A good relationship with a teacher can be a lifelong friendship.
Put the same amount of energy into your schoolwork as you do into your friendships. Education really is the key to unlocking opportunity, don't take it for granted.
Live your life like it matters. Live your life like you matter. Live your life to the best of your ability. Live your life in a way that makes you proud of who you are and where you came from.