Things I want to tell my growing-up granddaughters.
Growing up is hard.
There is so much to experience, so much to learn about the world and the people in it.
But the trickiest part, I think, is getting to know yourself and learning to honor who you are.
When a girl hits puberty and has to articulate the land of raging hormones, things get even harder.
It’s a tricky thing to go from being a little girl to becoming a woman.
Buckle up, sweetie. Your body and your emotions are about to board a rocky flight.
Here are some things I’ve learned that might make the trip a little easier:
>> It’s okay to be an introvert. It’s also okay to be an extrovert.
Extroverts are outgoing and become energized by being in groups of people. Introverts are less outgoing and become energy depleted by spending too much time in groups of people. Neither is better than the other. Figure out which of these you are and honor your needs.
>> You don’t have to change who you are to be liked.
You have a unique personality. Learn to like who you are and honor that. Don’t change who you are so that people will like you. Just be you.
>> Sit with how you’re feeling.
You’re going to experience a lot of emotions. Don’t push them aside. Let yourself feel all the feels. Don’t discount any of them.
>> Do something athletic. It will make you feel powerful.
Find an opportunity to join a team, or if a team is not your thing, find a way to enjoy a sport you can do on your own. Gaining athletic skills will make you feel powerful, and that’s always a good feeling.
>> Recognize your talents and honor them.
You’ll find that you have talents others may not have, just as they will have talents you don’t necessarily have. Learn to recognize what your talents are and honor them.
>> Everyone feels a little awkward.
There are times when you’ll feel awkward, clumsy, unskilled. Everyone feels like that from time to time. Don’t worry about this. People are more concerned about themselves, so they won’t even notice your awkwardness. Give yourself—and them—a break.
>> Sex is not the answer to feeling unloved.
Your hormones will be churning. You’ll begin to feel like you want to have sex. Make sure you choose your partner (and the timing) wisely. Learn to love yourself well first, and don’t ever have sex because you are feeling unloved.
>> Gay or straight, what I said about sex is the same.
It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight. What I said about sex is still true. Don’t ever have sex because you are feeling unloved. You are loved.
>> Make friends with your body. Learn to appreciate it.
Learn to love your body and it will serve you well. It can take you places. It can give you pleasure. Show your body appreciation. Show it love. Don’t ever compare your beautiful body to anyone else’s. Yours is special. It’s yours.
>> Find a hairstyle that doesn’t take a lot of time.
A simple hairstyle is a wise choice. Find a style that suits you but doesn’t take a lot of time. Spending hours on your hair is a big waste of time.
>> Wear what you like, not what others think you should like.
You’ll begin to develop your own style. Be sure to choose what you like. Pick things that please you. Don’t dress based on what you think others like.
>> Find your tribe. Spend time with people you enjoy.
There are lots of people in the world. Take the time to find people who “get you.” Find people you enjoy being around. Hang out with the people who make you feel good about yourself. Find people you connect with.
>> Eat well and be active. It will serve you in the long run.
Greasy foods and sugar might taste really good to you now, but try to think about eating well as investing in your future. Creating good eating habits will keep you healthy as you grow older. Being active will serve you too.
>> Don’t do drugs and alcohol.
I’m not making a moral statement here. But I am pleading with you, as your grandma, to stay away from addictions. I’ve seen drugs and alcohol ruin too many lives. Please, sweetie, just say no.
>> Sleep is your good friend.
Try to get a solid eight hours every night. You’ll feel better about yourself and the world when you’re well-rested.
>> Never be without a dog or a cat in your home. They will teach you things of value.
Dogs and cats are great teachers. If you get to know their personality and observe them well, they’ll teach you important life lessons.
>> Learn an instrument. It will help your brain and your heart.
Piano, guitar, flute, drums—it doesn’t matter what the instrument is, just choose one and learn to play it.
>> If music is not your thing, make art—any kind of art that pleases you. It’s good for your brain, good for your heart, and it will give you so many years of pleasure.
And the most important lesson of all: always, always remember that you are deeply loved.