Dear Miss J,
You may have noticed that I give you a lot of advice. I feel it is my job to share my life experiences with you and help you make good and informed decisions. As a realist, I also know that like generations of teens and tweens before you, you will likely ignore much of this advice and make the same mistakes I made. On the off-chance that you are listening (even to just a small percentage of what I say), here are a few things I would like you to know:
- Don’t worry about 5 pounds, bad hair days, or whether you have a pimple. You are most likely the only one who will notice and while it might bother you, it is pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
- Invest in comfortable shoes and sunscreen. Both will serve you well in the long run.
- Don’t change for anyone. One time you asked me what kind of girl do boys like, and I explained that the right boy will like you for who you are. There is no need to pretend to be someone you are not. They figure out the lie eventually.
- You may see kids acting stupid because they think people will not like them if they seem smart. Never dumb it down. If you are in trouble and you need help, you want Sheryl Sandberg or Ruth Bader Ginsberg in your corner – not the person who thinks that “boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.”
- Failure is OK. Try lots of different things to discover what you love. This is the age when you can fail all you want with minimal repercussions.
- Your heart will be broken at least once. I assure you that no matter who he is, he is not worth it.
- Don’t worry about having dozens of friends. A few tried and true ones are what really matter. If you have 3 or 4 people you can call with a crisis at 2 in the morning, you are doing all right.
- Understand that friendships ebb and flow depending on where you are in your life and that is OK.
- If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. You are at the age where you have great skin and hair with natural highlights. Leave them alone. And PLEASE do not wash your face with hand soap.
- Cherish your family even when they drive you nuts. It is just because we love you.
- Don’t worry about growing up too quickly. You will have responsibilities soon enough.
If you pay attention to all of this advice, the next 10-15 years will go very smoothly. If you don’t and you make lots of mistakes, I will be a shoulder to cry on, a voice of reason and, if you are lucky, I will not say that I told you so.