I have this thing about my birthday. I don’t not like it, but I also don’t love it as much as other people that have “birthday months” or “birthday week”. I like other people’s birthdays because I like making other people feel special – that can say a lot about me. But ever since I turned 15, my birthdays were just a little disappointing.
When I was little, I LOVED my birthday. It was probably one of my favorite days, next to Christmas of course. I remember laying in my bed one time when I was little, and it was a week until my birthday and the week seemed to last an eternity because I was just waiting and anticipating it. This year? It seemed to have snuck up on me and really hasn’t hit me that it’s tomorrow. Birthdays sound fun, but adult birthdays aren’t all bright sugary cakes and character wrapping paper that’s hiding the latest toy that you’ve been begging your parents for. It just feels different and less special at 21 than when you’re 12.
Last year I wrote 20 Lessons in 20 Years for my twentieth birthday, so since my twenty-first birthday is tomorrow I wanted to do something similar!
I decided to write 21 things that I wished someone told me when I was 12 years old. Like when you’re switching from elementary school to middle school and they give you a little booklet on what to expect and how to succeed in this new environment, they should compile a list of things like this to the pre-teens, so life wouldn’t be so scary for them. For me, I think 12 is when I started to feel anxious way more than I used to. Which makes sense because there are so many life changes that happen when you turn 12. You’re starting middle school, puberty is weird and confusing, and you make and start losing friends and it’s all kind of terrifying.
So, here are 21 things I’d tell my 12-year-old self now:
- Be your own cheerleader. You spend so much time trying to love and support others which are great but make sure you do that for yourself, too.
- Sit with the kid at lunch who doesn’t have anyone to sit with. Invite them to come to sit with you and their friends. You might make a new friend, and it’ll mean more than you know to the person who’s sitting alone. You might be the one sitting alone, wouldn’t it be nice if someone invited you to sit with them.
- Don’t accept anything less than you deserve. Don’t be friends with people that don’t genuinely care about you. Don’t give that boy the 4th chance to be better – he doesn’t deserve it and he will never change. You’re only hurting yourself and he’s only using you to mess you up because someone messed him up before you. And to the poor girl he’s dating now, I hope he’s changed because if he hasn’t you deserve so much better.
- Please don’t hold back laughing after you cry. If something makes you laugh after you just cried your eyes out about, laugh at it. You might not feel like it, but it’ll make you feel the tiniest bit better.
- You don’t have to have it all figured out at a certain age. I know you have a timeline on how and when you want things to happen, but no matter how much you try to control it you can never have complete control over it. Embrace that. And who knows maybe something will come along that’s even better than what you had planned.
- It’s okay to be sad for no reason. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
- She’s pretty but you’re pretty, too. And being pretty isn’t everything, being kind and intentional are important, too.
- Middle school sucks. High school sucks. College sucks a little less but still not the greatest. None of it will the best time of your life, and I hope you wouldn’t want it to be.
- You’re going to go through a time when you don’t have really any friends and it’ll feel like the loneliest thing in the world. You’re going to make it through it. It’s also better to have no friends than crappy friends.
- Please don’t be ashamed of being an introvert and quiet. It’s normal, and it’s one of the best things about you.
- Live up to your expectations for you. Not the expectations others have for you. If you don’t fulfill their expectations for your life, well that’s their problem.
- Your anxiety is a really big part of who you are and it’s one of the most challenging things you will deal with every day. You’ll fight battles and conquer things that people have no idea about. Be proud of yourself because it’s exhausting and hard. I’m proud of you. But even though it’s a big part of who you are, it’s not who you are. It doesn’t define you.
- You’re going to lose your best friend. It’ll suck but people grow apart and the years you got to be attached at the hip are some of the best memories you have, and they don’t mean any less just because you aren’t as close anymore.
- Speak up for yourself. You’re going to get walked all over if you don’t. Being kind and a pushover is two different things. You can still be nice and say no to people.
- Just because they don’t like you doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Not everyone will like you – most of the time it’s not personal.
- Don’t let other people make you feel guilty for something that you don’t want to do. Don’t let them manipulate you.
- It’s okay that you’re not like everyone else. That’s actually a good thing.
- You’ll meet a lot of boys who say they have good intentions, but they don’t. And when you tell them you’re hurt, they don’t care. You’ll start to question if you’ll ever meet the person you’re supposed to marry, don’t worry. It’s cliché but that means it’s pretty accurate: when you know you know. You meet the one and you never question if they’re the one because you just know it.
- If you can master telling people very little about yourself but make them think you’re telling them a lot, then you’re golden.
- It’s better to forgive too quickly than to hold onto something that you can’t change. It only hurts you. Learning to forgive people and situations that hurt you the most leaves you with the most weightless feeling.
- You don’t have to be perfect. It will ruin so many things for yourself when you try to live up to everyone’s expectations about you. You’re doing your best and what you believe is right for you and that’s all that matters.
I do believe that my twentieth year was the best year of my life. I lost a lot, but I gained a lot too and what I gained outweighs what I lost. I feel like my anxiety was worse this year but that means I got to learn how to manage it and I’ve even made some blogger friends that relate to me when I felt so alone in it. This year was also a year of a lot of firsts for me that were really fun and exciting for me. So, I have high hopes for my twenty-first year, I’m feeling confident and optimistic about it.
What would be something that you’d want to tell your younger self now? Would you want to tell your younger self anything? Or do you think that takes away personality development?