Life lessons for teenage and young adult women

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I have been thinking a lot lately about advice I wish I had been given when I was younger.  I see young ladies who are doing things that literally affect the course of their life and I really don’t think they even realize it. I believe there are things you should do when you’re younger that will help you so much later in life–you just don’t know it yet. 🙂

Society is changing at an alarming rate. We are bombarded with not only TV & magazines, but also the Internet and all that goes along with it. When I was in High School, we didn’t have the Internet, cell phones or digital cameras (Yes, that makes me sound OLD!). If you wanted to see pictures of a friend, you waited until they took 24 or 36 pictures on their 35mm camera, developed them, and brought them to school. Today, you just need to log on to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr or others and you can see hundreds of pictures of your friends. Some are cute, but many now are with their tongue hanging out or the “duck face/scissor hands” pose (as my 18 year old son calls it)…..some even worse.

Something I realized yesterday is that I would like to be an encouragement to those of you who are in this stage of your life–especially girls–because I once was where you are. So, I made some notes in my phone yesterday–yes, I’m cool like that. I even have many of the social media sites on my phone. 🙂 These are some things I came up with (in no particular order) that I feel are appropriate conversation starters/advice for Middle School, High School and up. If you have a daughter, sister, niece, friend, etc. this age – feel free to share. This is definitely not all-inclusive, but it’s what was on my mind yesterday.

1. Love your body–The sooner you start loving your body type, the better! Don’t compare yourself to others. That’s easy to do with a million pictures of “perfect” people staring you in the face every day, but don’t fall into that trap. Trust me, your body will not stay like it is (good or not so good), so be comfortable in your own skin. (SIDE NOTE: If you are a Mom of girls, please don’t project your own self-image of your body onto her. She is watching, listening and taking cues from you on how she should feel. This is a toughy and I’m glad I didn’t have daughters for this reason. It would have been almost impossible for me during that time of their lives.)

2. Respect yourself–Don’t compromise your morals, values and beliefs for anyone. Don’t let people take advantage of you and stick up for yourself. Don’t put yourselves in situations that could be misconstrued–like hanging out with a friend who likes to drink or do drugs. You only have 1 reputation, so protect it.

3. Keep secrets–Before you completely stop reading Moms, hear me out! My rule on this has always been this: If someone asks  you to keep a secret and it is not harmful to them or someone else, then keep it. It shows you are trustworthy. Examples of good secrets: Your friend tells you who she likes, that she’s planning a surprise party, that she did bad on a test and needs help to study, etc. Examples of harmful secrets that you have to tell someone: Your friend threatens to harm themselves or is engaging in behavior that could harm them.

4. Talk to your Mom–I know there are girls who honestly can’t talk to their Mom because she isn’t there or isn’t good at Motherhood. But MOST of you have a Mom you can talk to. If not, you have an adult woman (maybe a friend’s Mom) that you can talk to. Yes, I know you don’t want to tell her everything, but here’s my advice–Many times your Mom won’t freak out as much as you think! You need an adult woman who has gone through things to be able to reassure you that no matter what you have done there is a God (& a Mom) who love you unconditionally. (Moms–hang with me here. My motto {& yes I have 3 boys, not girls} has always been to listen and give advice no matter what they told me {NEVER SHOWING disappointment or disapproval in the heat of the moment} and then when I got behind my doors get on my knees and “freak out” talking to God. You can talk about being disappointed in their choices when you have had time to calm down. I have found if done in the heat of the moment it comes across WAY more harshly than when I take time to think and pray about it. REMEMBER: You were a teenager once too! Yes, you made mistakes. Yes, you survived.)

5. Study Hard–Don’t skimp out when it comes to school. Be a strong young woman who does not need to depend on a man to take care of you. You WILL find one one day that will take care of you, but don’t be dependent on one when you are so young. You have your whole life ahead of you. Stand on those 2 feet God gave you, spread your wings and soar!

6. Don’t have a serious boyfriend until later–I know you will probably hate this one, but here is why I say this…..Having a serious boyfriend can (& more than likely will) lead to serious other things. And once that has happened it is WAY more difficult to move on with life when you break up. Trust me–there is a VERY slim chance you will marry your High School sweetheart! And in all honesty, 10 years down the road you will probably be VERY glad of that! 🙂

7. Play sports, Be active, Try out–Don’t sit on the sidelines through school and don’t be afraid to try out for things. If you want to be in a play, cheer, play basketball, sing in the choir–then try out! Once you get your nerve up the first time you won’t be as scared the next. Get involved in school and things you enjoy. You can never get this time back, so have fun!

8. Dress modestly & don’t tease–Don’t dress to attract a boy’s attention in a negative way. I’m not saying turtlenecks and loose pants, but what I am saying is be aware of your dress. Even young ladies who are in the youth group wear revealing clothes–and you know the boys aren’t concentrating on the lesson about Jesus. If you have to ask if something is modest, then it probably isn’t.  Don’t tease boys with texts or flirting either.  You should strive to have a guy like you for WHO you are, not WHAT you are. You should be valued & respected!

9. Have a BEST friend and give up a BAD one (toxic)–It is okay to have a best friend. Someone you really could confide in with anything. It is also okay to have a lot of friends, but don’t confide everything to every one of them. Girls can be cruel and mean. You should also walk away from bad friends. I know this is hard at your age, but if someone is a bad friend in Middle School and High School chances are they will always be a bad friend. Surround yourself with good friends who can lift you up!

10. Follow Christ–Following Christ and having a relationship with Him is the BEST thing you can do at a young age. Life is hard–friends leave you, things happen and your life changes. Christ is CONSTANT! He never leaves and will always be there to listen. Read the Bible and pray. This is probably the most important thing you can do and you won’t believe the difference it will make in your life.

If you want to know, YES, I wrote this list because I wish someone had told me these things when I was your age. It took me well into adulthood before I realized some of these. Just know that you CAN do this! Some days will be hard, but the good will outweigh the bad. Have a good attitude, roll with the punches and keep pressing on! I’m rooting for you!

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