I know I seem like I'm a thousand years older than you. I know you wonder how I can possibly remember what is was like to be 15, but I do.
I know the crow's feet around my eyes, and the laugh lines that have settled in around my mouth give away my age, while my "mom haircut", my obsession with cardigans, and the little person who keeps wandering around calling me, "Mom", does very little to convince you that the years that span between us are few.
But, trust me, they are.
As my 20's draw to close, I am beginning to realize just how little time has passed between 15 and now. And as I watch you struggle, my heart aches for that 15 year old girl I used to be. The one who once thought she knew everything-the one with the big dreams and the high hopes. The one who seems to have disappeared into the woman who stares back at me from my mirror every morning. But, I know she is still in there. I can feel her, even if she is a little less awkward, a little less insecure, and a little less naive from the lessons this life has taught her.
Don't get me wrong, if someone would of wrapped up the lessons I have learned in a pretty bow and handed them to me when I was 15, I would of probably just rolled my eyes and ignored them-shoving the gifts aside to some far away recesses of my heart and mind. I would of told the gift giver they were crazy. That I knew exactly how my life was going to work out and you couldn't of told me any different.
But, now that I am older, I wish someone would of told me a few things about real life, and I wish I would of had the heart to listen to them. I think that I could of saved myself from a few incredibly painful lessons, if someone would of sat me down, looked me straight in the eyes, and told me these things.
Well, sweet girls, this is me sitting you down. Imagine that we are at my house, curled up on my couch. Imagine that we are drinking your favorite coffee from Starbucks, and we're just talking about life, boys, and clothes. Imagine for a moment that so many years don't separate us, and for just a minute listen to what my 15 year old heart has to say to you.
2. Real women do not look like Victoria's Secret models. Your quest to fit into the media's mold of beauty is futile, because women like that do not exist. It's amazing what a computer and the right program can do to anyone's hips, thighs, and breasts. The sooner you realize those images are fake, the sooner you'll quit asking yourself why you don't look like that.
3. Learn to manage your own finances. Your parents aren't always going to be there to bail you out, and I hate to break it to you but single, good looking millionaires are in short supply. So do yourself a favor: get a job, get a checking account, and learn to support yourself. Stay away from credit cards. Do not abuse student loans. And learn to appreciate what it feels like to work hard for every single thing you have.
4. Those boys who only want one thing-stay away from them. No. Seriously. Run. Run very, very, very fast. Those boys do exist. And when you meet one, your brain and your heart will be screaming at you. Listen to them. Even if you don't want too, because you will be so glad that you did. I am here to tell you, that despite what they say, giving yourself to them will not make them love you. Ever. If you ignore every other lesson I'm trying to teach you, don't ignore this one. This one will save you from a lot of heartache. I promise.
5. Quit trying so hard. You will spend all of your high school years and most of your early college years trying to fit in. You will allow your worth to be defined by the boys who like you, the girls who hate you, the clothes you wear, and the grades you make. Well, DON'T. Just don't. 10 years from now very few of those people will actually still be in your life, that shirt that was cool when you were 15 will not be cool when you are 30, and no one...literally NO ONE will remember what grade you made in your sophomore microbiology class.
6. Find your passion. Do you want to sing on a Broadway stage? Go for it. Do you have a desire to travel the world? Do it. Are you destined to be the next great American author? Take that extra creative writing course. Are you a brilliant artist? Fill your home with your artwork. Do you have a heart for the needy? Start making a difference. Whatever it is. Whatever you are passionate about. Do it. You are never too young to start chasing your dreams. So, chase them and chase them hard.
7. Make a bucket list. No. Seriously. You need a bucket list. I know it sounds cheesy, and that you probably think only old people have these, but trust me, you need one. And you should compile your list now before life, work, finances, marriage, and children cause you to try to fit your list into the grown up box which is now your life. Write it all down, keep it somewhere safe, and then start checking them off. This life is too short not to embrace your dreams.
8. Family is everything. I don't know your family dynamic. I don't know what dark family secrets your hiding. But, I do know that at the end of the day, family is family. They are your blood and some days they will be all you have left. Learn how to forgive them, because most likely there will be times when they have to forgive you. Trust me, grudges are not worth it.
9. When you finally find your best friend, hold onto her. I hate to break it to you, but your best friend from high school probably isn't going to be your best friend in real life. Over the past two years, I have learned a valuable lesson about what friendship...real friendship...truly is. A best friend is someone who knows absolutely EVERYTHING about you and still likes you. She is always on your side, even when your side is probably wrong. She will never ask you to be fake or ask you to pretend to be something you're not. She knows which songs to be quiet to, which places you just can't go, and how to effectively guide you to a quick exit when you are about to make a fool of yourself. You can go days without talking to each other, and still be best friends. You can talk about anything, enjoy complete silence with each other, and you laugh...a lot...about the weirdest things. That's friendship. Real friendship. Friendship that walks through the fire with you, and dances in the rain with you. Friendship that sees just how ugly, mean, and not very pretty you can be and still takes your face in their hands and tells you that you are worth it. When you find a friend like that, hold on to her with everything you have. Because in my opinion, that type of friendship only comes along once in this life.
10. There is no such thing as a knight in shining armor. I know that one is hard to swallow. I know I have literally just crushed every fairy tale you have ever been told. But, I'm here to tell you that men on white horses do not exist, and if you find one refer back to lesson #4. However, real men do exist. Men with flaws and perfect imperfections. Men who don't always say or do the right things, but who will love you at your worst. Men who will make you fighting mad, who will call your bluff, and who will still be standing there when the flames finally die down. Men who will hold you when your scared and who will actually mean it when they tell you that you are beautiful. Men who who don't just make children with you, but who actually raise those children with you. Real men with real hearts. Just like your's. And when the time comes to choose, that's the type of man you want. Not the fake one on the horse. I promise.
11. Your mom is a pretty smart lady. I know that you do not always see eye to eye with her. I know she drives you crazy, and sometimes you feel like she just doesn't "get you". Well, I'm here to tell you that she does. She "gets you" better than anyone else. All of her rules, her lectures, her ridiculous curfew, and her inability to let you leave the house in those shorts are her way of guiding you and protecting you. So, do yourself a favor, and just listen to her, okay? God entrusted you to her, and as your mom, she doesn't know how to do anything BUT protect you. So, try...just try...to see things from her point of view. I promise, ten years from now you won't think she's so crazy anymore.
12. You are enough. Yes, you. You know that girl starring back at you in the mirror? She is enough. She is pretty enough, smart enough, and strong enough. You are so loved and so many people are so proud of the beautiful woman you are becoming. Don't ever let this world tell you any different. You deserve amazing things, and you will get them. Just don't sell yourself short, okay?
Sweet, beautiful girl this life is hard-so very, very hard. Boys will break your heart, friends will let you down, and you will be asked to do things that compromise your values and fight against your inner compass. You will make mistakes...LOTS of them. But, pretty girl, I am here to tell you that those mistakes don't define you. It's the lessons that you learn from them that do. You are a child of the King. A princess of the His heavenly court. He created you in His own image and when He looks at you, He sees a masterpiece. He has an amazing plan for you life. And, trust me, the most amazing things in this life are truly worth the wait. You'll see. Everything doesn't have to happen all at once.
So, don't rush growing up, don't jump into everything feet first, and accept the guidance of others.
Because, some of us actually have quite a bit of wisdom to offer you.