One of our treasures is blossoming young women, yet there is an alarming increase in both suicides and suicidal thoughts in girls. There are so many forces shaping these divine bits of female clay including the pressure from social media, bullying, and everything brought up by the #MeToo movement. How can we help form them so when they come through the fire they will not crack? There’s so much I would like to say to them, so here goes:
It will get better. I promise. While you may be experiencing the worst thing in your life, and I do not mean to diminish that in any way, life is long and you will be able to put it in perspective. When you survive teenage angst, that is laying the foundation to make you stronger to face whatever comes next. Life is full of good times and bad times. Realizing change is inevitable gives you better balance to surf the emotional waves.
Your looks will change. You will lose that 10 pounds and you will gain it back. You will have a good hair day, then a bad hair day. You will put on an amazing outfit. Then you will be a fashion don’t. For as much as you may beat yourself up, your older self will look back and say Oh my gosh, if only I had realized then how pretty I was. Enjoy your neck.
Being a sexual being is amazing. There is so much shame girls face. No wonder you want to keep everything private. Here is the truth. Sex is a natural and yummy part of romantic love, and it is your gift to give, so make sure that person is worthy of it. Be educated and safe. You are in charge of your body, not anyone else. Alcohol is not your friend in this department. Even if you meet Prince Charming, give him your number and go home. If he is not interested in coffee with you the next morning, then his crown is clearly cardboard.
Find your happy place. Find small things in your control which bring you pleasure and make them a daily practice.
Don’t take your freedom for granted. You are too young to remember a time when women did not have the rights they do today. Don’t be complacent or cynical. We have already fought the good fight, and if your freedom is threatened, it is your turn to do battle.
Words matter. Do not date the high school jock who speaks disparagingly about girls. Do not vote for a president who says it’s okay to grab women by the p**sy. Do not listen to songs with misogynistic lyrics. This is not just boy talk. This is not okay, period. There are plenty of boys and men who respect women. Choose them.
Bet on health instead of beauty. Women are brutally judged on their looks, there is no denying it. But feeling good is your best path to looking good. Don’t be thin, be strong. Instead of spending a ton of money on makeup and beauty products, invest in nutritious food and exercise that creates gorgeous hair, skin, and toning from the inside out. Instead of hating your body, treat it well and reap the rewards.
Be a good friend — boys will come and go but a good girlfriend can last a lifetime.
Turn off your phone. Addiction to your phone is one of the most potent and dangerous addictions you will face. It is not reality. Social media is a highly manipulated effort for kids to try to prove that their life is better than yours. They are not. They just have a better Snapchat filter.
Find a hero — a singer, a writer, a creative person whose stories, lyrics, or actions speak to you. Every generation has its voice. Add yours to it.
Being free from pain is different from being dead. You can’t take back being dead. Being a pretty corpse is no consolation prize.
High school is hell. I can tell you that many of the most successful people I know were tortured in high school. And some of the most popular kids in high school had their moment in the sun as teenagers and it was all downhill from there.
Get really, really, angry. Scream. Cry. Punch the pillow. Pour out all of your feelings. Don’t let it turn inward.
Get an imaginary love. Send yourself a flower, write a card to yourself, even text yourself something sweet. (Okay, I don’t know how to do that.)
Find one adult to trust — it doesn’t have to be a parent or a teacher. Your truths might be too painful to admit to them. I get that. I truly believe most of us adult women would be nothing but honored to have a teenage girl’s trust and honest questions and opportunity to help. Remember . . . we were you not too long ago. We are made from the same clay.