Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On Turning Thirteen...

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Inspired by a friend’s request to share my words of wisdom to her soon-to-be 13-year-old daughter, I decided to share a slightly expanded version of my letter here. As I began to write to my young friend, I realized that the message I would have wanted at her age was the same one I need to hear today. Learn to Trust Yourself.

Me @ 13
While I can’t remember exactly what it’s like to stand on the threshold of turning 13, I do recall it as a time of exhilaration and uncertainty with lots of questions. I remember being too afraid to ask the questions for fear of looking dumb. I’d like to say I was filled with curiosity about who I would become in the world and what great things I was capable of doing. I’d also like to tell you that I was brave and didn’t worry about what everybody else was doing... But, in reality, I was more concerned about how my hair looked and whether or not I’d blend in with the rest of the kids my age. [Hmmm... Thirteen or not, how might this still resonate today?]

What do I wish I had known at 13? As I said earlier, it’s the wisdom that grounds and motivates me today: Learning to Trust Myself! I grew up thinking everyone else had the answers to all my questions. But how could they when they were my questions and we each are prone to see things differently? Only I can decide what I like and what feels right for me [and the same goes for you]. It’s kind of like sharing clothes with other people. We come in all shapes, sizes, likes and dislikes, so it’s important to try on different things to see what makes us sparkle. That’s how we learn to trust ourselves. [If you are still learning to do this at your age (I know I am), then read on...]

Ask lots of questions, don’t be afraid to stand out, and explore boatloads of things to see what makes you a trustworthy You. Taste new foods. Listen to different music. Watch movies that none of your friends have seen. Learn a language. Travel to an unexplored destination. Revamp your wardrobe. Throw out what doesn’t fit. Keep what you love. Be curious and don’t be afraid if you don’t know the answers (even if the questions are Who am I or What do I like?) Keep asking and exploring.

My hunch is that you already have a pretty strong sense of who you are and what you like [although it might need a little refreshing], so Trust Yourself and you’ll never go wrong... And if things get confusing or you feel a little lost that’s okay, too. Blend in if you need to. Stand out when that feels good. Ask for help when you don’t know the way. Keep trying things on as you learn to trust and refine your perfect self! And if it helps... you can always pretend you’re standing on the threshold of adolescence.

Ponder this: What words of wisdom would you offer to a 13-year-old?

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