I’ll never forget my high school days.
I remember walking down those huge halls, surrounded by the buzz of morning chatter and the gossip of the weekend. I can almost still hear the sound of the slamming lockers, and smell the faint odor of cafeteria food looming in the air.
Walking down those halls was never an easy task. I always felt like I was on display…like there some sort of a spotlight shining on me, every…where…I…went. It was like constantly being under a magnifying glass- with every flaw being projected to the world in HD.
If I’m honest, I struggled a lot with my self-esteem as a teenager, and succumbed to the pressure of my peers probably one too many times.
Let’s not beat around the bush– the teenage years are straight up difficult. It’s hard to navigate the right and wrongs, to think ahead, and to know what’s good for you. It’s hard to feel beautiful, valuable, and strong when you’re constantly comparing yourself to the world around you.
There are so many things I know now, that I wish I could have known then. Here are 10 thing I wish every teenage girl could hear:
1. You are valuable standing alone! I wasted so much time during my teen years focusing on guys! I felt insignificant and alone without their attention. I wish I would have known that my value is something that I choose to believe in– not something someone gives me. Girls, you are amazing, beautiful, and special right here, right now, just as you are. Don’t ever give in to the pressure to use your body, your words, or your actions in a compromising way just to get his attention. You are enough. Learn to believe that now- because that truth will change your entire life!
2. How you dress will attract a certain kind of guy. I know you get it girls- we all want to catch their eye don’t we? But what we don’t always realize is that when you catch a guy with your body- you’ll have to keep him with your body. There is so much more about who you are than the size of your boobs or the size of your waist. Learn to respect yourself, and accentuate the beauty of your heart, your mind, and your spirit. Because those are exactly the kind of things that will snag a really good man.
3. Your parents might not always get it, but they usually know what’s good for you. I know it’s hard to believe now, because it seems like they are so far removed from what you’re going through- but one thing I wish I would have done during my teen years is actually pay more attention to what my parents were saying. They knew me and loved me better than I even knew and loved myself, and the limits they set were almost always for my good. Now that I have children, I see that more than I ever could have imagined. I wish I would have trusted them more.
4. Hang in there- no matter how bad it feels right now- it will pass. If you thought the last lesson was hard to believe, this one’s even harder. I get it–that breakup, those betraying friends, the gossip that’s going around about you–can feel like the most devastating things in the moment. But as hard as they are, and as bad as you may feel, believe me: IT WILL PASS. Don’t be afraid to cry out for help, to talk to someone you love, and to reach out. But always remember that you are strong, you are capable, and you will get through this. Don’t give it the power to ruin your life.
5. You teach people how they are allowed to treat you. I have to admit, I’m still learning this one at times. But the truth is- you have more control than you could even imagine. You are allowed to walk away, to distance yourself, and to put a stop to those people who are treating you poorly. Teach people how they can treat you, by setting your standards high. You owe it to yourself.
6. Don’t care so much about what people think. It’s easy to place our value in what people think of us, but we’ll find ourselves on a never-ending emotional roller coaster when we realize we will never, ever make everyone happy. Love life, make good choices, and do the right thing- and always live for an audience of One.
7. The road less traveled is usually the right one. I remember saying NO to so many things that everyone else seemed to be saying YES to. I can’t even tell you how hard that was at times, and how much I wanted to give in to that pressure. But now that I’m here, I look back and I can’t even thank God enough for helping me choose the road less traveled, and making good choices even when it was hard. Just because everyone’s doing it, doesn’t mean it’s good. I’m glad I didn’t have to learn that the hard way.
8. Your body doesn’t define you–you define yourself. Teen or not, this is something we wrestle with as girls on and off throughout our lives. But the truth is, we can’t let our bodies define us, because we have the power to define ourselves. Take the time to love yourself, to focus on your strengths, and to be grateful for the body God has given you. And then remember: You are the daughter of A King–live like it!
9. Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken. I remember trying so hard to fit in to places and people that I was never meant to fit. It took a while to find myself after losing myself in the crowd of everyone I was trying to be. But I finally learned to embrace myself, love my personality, and appreciate my quirks. God made you special just the way you are- so be yourself.
10. God has an amazing plan for your life, but it’s up to you to choose it. I think it’s easy to forget that good things can really happen. It’s easy to be filled with fears and worries in the moment, and doubt God’s great plans and purpose for our life. Sometimes we settle for an okay life, because we don’t believe there’s something better. But beautiful girls, you are destined for great things! Believe it, and then live it.
Sometimes I sit and think how these lessons would have saved me so much heartache and pain, because as Maya Angelou says, “when you know better- you do better”.
My prayer for every precious girl reading this is that you would know and believe that you are loved, that you are prayed for, and that you deserve great things. Know better, but more importantly– go out there and do better.
It’s never too early to start learning about healthy relationships! Pick up a copy of my book, True Love Dates, for the teenager in your life! You won’t regret it!
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, and 21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!