The Younger Me, What I Wish You Would've Known
With teen suicide and bullying at an all time high, I felt the need to write about a younger generation that's in need of us, with a little more experience to help them out. I, for one, HATED high school! I would never want to relive those years of my life. I also know, since I was in high school a lot more has changed, making it more difficult than ever to focus solely on academics. These kids nowadays have school shootings, gang affiliations, drugs, sex, trying to survive, being sexually harassed by their teachers, social media, wanting to experience with their sexual orientation, and so much more.
Most of my high school years consisted of getting teased for being “skinny and flat chested”. I was teased for being one of five black people in Pre-AP classes. Kids actually tried to make me feel bad for being smart and pretty, but "mama ain't raise no fool" because I knew better. The same one's teasing me, were overweight and struggling to make a C in their regular classes. It was then that I realized two things:
Some people will try to make you feel bad in order to make themselves feel better.
Those same people only want you to succeed as long as it doesn't out shine them.
As for dating in high school, I was stuck chasing behind someone that wasn't any good for me. He was the typical "bad boy" skipping class, getting sent to alternative schools, selling drugs with a criminal record by the age of 15. He was abusive and had me confusing what young love looked it. It was a cycle of break-ups to make-ups that I had a hard time ending. I eventually made the decision to attend college in a different city because I needed to get away from him and everything else that came with my hometown. My future was at stake, I knew what I didn’t want and who I didn’t want to become. That was one of the best decisions I made because it put me on the path to success. But not every 17 year old has the chance to make that choice. Some never make it passed their high school years, and others make decisions that will hinder their future forever.
So this is an ode to the younger me and any other girl out there struggling to find her way. Don't underestimate wisdom in your generation. Here are some things I wish you would've known before your time.
1. You are important, valuable, worthy, whole, and enough. You’re beautiful just the way you are.
2. Don’t be so eager to “fit in” with others. There will be times you'll feel like the odd one out, but that's okay. In fact, you should worry when you begin to look and act just like everyone else. Individuality is a good thing, cherish it.
3. Find your voice to speak up, and do so with confidence. If something doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. It’s okay to say no. Always ask questions when you don't understand something (even if you're the only one in class raising your hand). How else will you learn?
4. Listen to those that are older and wiser, for they have better advice. Usually those who are the same age as you only hold the same amount of experience as you. Looking back “mama was always right”.
5. Don’t grow up too fast, enjoy your youth. You can drink, party, have sex, and be grown when you are actually grown. Adulting isn't fun! Those that have lived life too fast, at too young of an age end up looking older than they really are. No one wants to look used, washed up, and 40 when they're actually 20.
6. Stop trying to impress others based upon having the newest shoes, or clothes. Stop trying to wear your hair, or talk a certain way because everyone is doing it.
7. Learn how to solve your own problems by facing them head on. You can't run from everything that's tragic and uncomfortable.
8. Mind your own business, and stay in your own lane. This will keep you away from drama and petty fights. Stay focused. Distractions will come, but don’t let them get the best of you.
9. People only tease and bully others because they hate something about their own self. They just want to take it out on you. Don’t view yourself through the lens of someone that doesn’t see you for who you are.
10. Domestic violence has no age limit, it's far more common in teen dating than people think. All love isn’t good love, and a broken person can't love you. Never doubt that you can find someone to treat you better.
I want to challenge those reading this post to reach out to anyone under the age of 21 that may need a little extra attention, a mentor, or guidance to stay on the right path. Reach out to that girl or boy who reminds you of your younger self. Help them make it through one of the most challenging times in anyone's life. Let's work to prevent teen suicide and teen bullying. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?