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#DearTeenageMe

There’s a hashtag trending right now: #DearTeenageMe … here’s the advice I’d give myself.

Dear Teenage Me,

You can do it. Your hard work pays off. Everything turns out okay. I’d like you to know that things will never get easier – in fact, they will get harder, and more complicated, and will at times seem overwhelming. But life will also get more wonderful, satisfying, and interesting. Things will not go as planned, not even close. They will be better. Trust your instincts, and make choices that reflect who you are and what you want (NOT what you think other people think is the best choice for you).

Be prepared. You will make friends, only to grow apart from them. You will gain some weight, but that will not make you less beautiful, less important, or less worthy of respect and love. You will struggle with classes, and you will struggle with sports. Please remember that you are more than a dress size, more than a test score, and more than your athletic successes or failures. You are more than the sum of your parts, and there are people who will be there along the way to cheer you on, support you, and love you unconditionally. Cherish those relationships. Show that kind of love and support to everyone you can, because you will learn that even small acts of kindness can make a difference.

Be open to ideas that challenge your view on the world. You will meet people and take classes that will challenge how you think. Embrace these opportunities to grow. Learn about different people, countries, ideas, and cultures. Actively combat your own biases, and continue questioning the world around you. You will find that the world is a complex, messy, terrifying, beautiful, difficult place. You will realize that others have not had the same opportunities as you have. Be sensitive to difference. Acknowledge obstacles others face and do not disregard the experiences of others. Never forget that you are not better, or worse, than anyone. Try to show others this as well.

Above all, do not hold onto bitterness. Learn to forgive others, and yourself, for hurtful words and regrettable actions. There are few things in life that cannot be fixed with a sincere apology and a change in behavior. This is especially true regarding your thoughts and behaviors towards yourself. Fill your mind and heart with love, humility, ambition, and acceptance. Expel doubt, self-hate, disapproval, and comparisons to others.

Remember that there is always room for improvement, but that does not mean who you are today is not good enough.

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