First off, I have to preface this post with a disclaimer. And I really hate that I have to do this.....if you're offended by things like reading about others sex lives, reading about body positivity, and being introduced to the fact that our actions shape the girls around us, then please stop reading. I'm going to talk about thongs, I'm going to talk a bout sex, I'm going to talk about being fat. Additionally...if you are a relative of mine, you might want to skip this post all together.
After Thanksgiving dinner this year I was sitting around the table with some of Zach's relatives. His uncle, I believe, said something that really struck me. It was something along the lines of kids are in all these AP classes, what does it matter? You're 17. And I agreed with his point...there's is no need to stress out so much about grades....you're 17, be 17, you have your whole life to worry.
That inspired me to think about what I might tell 17 year old me. So I thought about myself when I was 17. When I was 16. When I was 15. And it was hilarious. If I saw 15, 16, 17 year old me....I would laugh. So concerned with herself and how she compares to everyone else, so concerned with grades, so concerned with the things that are important to 15, 16, 17 year old girls. I'd love to just sit her down and tell her a few things. So I put them in this list. Here it goes.
You don't need to wear thongs
I know they are cool and all your friends wear them (you know they do because it's all they talk about or thats all you think they talk about). And everyone is prettier than you, and the pretty girls wear them. But you don't have to. They are uncomfortable and you really aren't wearing the right ones for the right reasons...so you don't have to. While your at it, embrace how comfortable padding and underwire is right now because the 28 year old you gave up on padding and underwire about 2 years ago and is very comfortable on her couch drinking wine right now. Oh, and she also wears regular underwear...and no one cares.
Stop worrying about your grades
Yes, you're getting a C in your AP European History class. Yes, Calculus is kicking your butt. But you are smart, you are creative, and you will get into college. And then two years into college, you'll change your major from the sensible math that you aren't that good at to art where you will feel your creativity blossom. It will take you 5 years to finish school, you'll cram 4 years into 3 years...and you'll learn so, so much. You'll remark to people how you learned so much more from art than from any other coursework you've ever taken. Continue to work hard, continue to learn. (In 7 or 8 years you'll meet some one who finds knowledge wonderful and you'll impress him with the fact that you know what phrenology is and your first date will be to the Mariner's Museum, it will be awsome.) Be concerned with how much you know....not how many points you get on the history exam. Because that knowledge will shape you. Be concerned with how you problem solve. Be concerned with how you take what you've learned and applied it. Guess what? No one has ever once cared how long it took us to finish college. No one has ever once cared that we got a C in AP Euro. People do care that we can carry on conversations, apply our knowledge to new situations, and solve problems. No on has ever once asked me my GPA. You'll forget it 3 months after graduation any way.
Just. Keep. Waiting.
Yes, like everyone you know is having sex or thinking about having sex or talking about having sex. But keep waiting. Everyone will be talking about, thinking about, or having sex while you're in college too. Just. Keep. Waiting. I know you think you should just do it. And I know that you won't. Your hormones are going crazy but keep waiting. You're not ready. Maybe those other people are, good for them. But your not. And you will know when you finally are. Keep waiting. Because when it finally happens, you'll both have waited - but that won't be the important part. The important part is that you can talk about sex like an adult and have the conversations adults have about sex. No one is embarrassed, no one is shy, you'll both be able to talk about it like adults (it will be the weirdest thing you've ever done in your life but you won't feel embarrassed, you'll feel prepared.) You'll know you're body more. And you both with grow to discover things together and learn. It will be amazing. And guess what? No one has ever cared how many partners I haven't had.
Your acne will never clear up
It won't. 28 year old you has a big zit on her chin right now and she's wearing a bit of concealer and a powder. Thats right! Powder! I know you've always wanted to be the girl with the powder compact and the porcelain skin. Your acne will never clear up - but you'll learn how to take care of your skin. Wash it regularly but don't strip it. All the stuff that stings your face might not be the best. But eventually you'll grow to see yourself as not just pretty, but beautiful. You will be so vain - pimples and all - that someone on Instagram will ask why you take so many selfies. You are beautiful the way you are.
You will live in a world were acceptance is growing
First, you'll never be skinny but that won't be a bad thing. You'll be living in a world were not only are there plus size models and plus size actors, but you'll eventually live in a world where all bodies are accepted. There are issues you never even thought about, being discussed right now. You will be on the verge of homosexual and transgender rights crusades. You will be so concerned with others in the world that being caught up on your weight and comparing yourself to others will be so far in the back of your mind...you won't even be thinking about it. So start to grow a little more considerate, a little more thoughtful, and gain a little bit of empathy. The world is waiting for you to be a part of the change. And guess what? No one cares about how you look, they care about your voice. Be the voice.
You're 15. You're 16. You're 17. You've got your whole life ahead of you and your whole life to worry. There is no handbook but you will figure it out.....and then in 12 years I may be writing something the me in my mid-late 20's. Your life is a journey only for you. Soak it all up. The only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday.
I started this post off with the thong thing because of how grown up I wanted to feel for wearing thongs. Real women grew up, got sexy, and wore thongs. I am a real woman, I have grown up (enough), I am sexy, and I don't wear thongs. I don't do a lot of the things that teenage me thought grown up, sexy women would do. Grown up, sexy women are women who care about other women and how other women perceive themselves. Grown up, sexy women show other women that sexy is anything. A grown up, sexy woman is confident.....and that is what makes her sexy.
When we are young we are impressionable. We try to be like others. We try to be what we think others are. But the truth is the only person you have to live with for the rest of your life...is yourself. So make yourself the best self for you. Give to others, yet indulge yourself. When you can stand in front of a mirror bare ass naked and take all of yourself in with out criticism.....then you've become that grown up, sexy woman. And I'm pretty sure I'm there.
Thanks for letting me share this sort of private note in this very public setting.