I don’t know about you, but I shudder every time I hear the words, “middle school.” The time where we took too many smiling pictures with our braces, wore the infamous Snookie hair bump, and “fell in love,” all too suddenly, only to have our hearts, “broken”. Thinking back to my middle school self makes me kind of sad. I reminisce of days when I was so worried of what others thought of me, where I fit in, and when that perfect guy would ask me out.
At the time, my awkward self was constantly looking for the right advice. “Is this outfit ugly?” “How does my eyeliner look?” “How can I get him to like me?” There were two people in my life, however, who were giving me the best advice I could have gotten, but I was so blind to realize that, considering that they were my seemingly ancient parents.
They hadn’t had their hearts broken over text message. A phone to them was attached to the wall, with a rotary dial. They never had to worry about wearing the perfect Juicy Couture sweat suit. They could never understand me! I realize now that my parents were giving me the best advice that I needed, and were not even close to being as clueless and ignorant as I thought them to be.
Before writing this piece, I sat down with my parents and asked them to give me the 10 best pieces of advice that I should always carry with me. After hearing this list, I wasn’t only jolted by the memory of sitting down with my parents in 7th grade and hearing this same advice word for word, but I realized that these words will always ring true. Whether it’s for a 13-year-old, college student, or new graduate in their first job.
- Unlimited gossip about boys is fine, but don’t talk about other girls – whether it’s on Yik Yak, Twitter, or in the student union bathroom, this won’t get you anywhere in life.
- Don’t be afraid to stick up for what you believe in – there will always be those who disagree with your opinions, but you need to stand up for yourself.
- Doing the right thing is ALWAYS the right thing – trust your instincts.
- Don’t keep score in life – don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others. Maybe you are not the 4.0 GPA, the skinny girl at the gym, or the perfect girlfriend. But you are YOU, and that’s special.
- Don’t forget the longtime friends you’ve had – the new, shiny object may seem nice at first, but you’ll end up empty handed before you know it.
- Be thankful – you are so fortunate; take time to appreciate all of the good in your life. Try volunteering at your local animal shelter, or even easier, text your best friend and just say, “Thank you.” It’ll go a long way.
- Try lots of different and new things – don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone. Join the Quidditch team that seems to come up at every college orientation, talk to someone that looks different from you, or sample that new flavor of ice cream at the dining hall. Just try something new.
- Even though it’s your birthday, you have to put others first – it’s not always about you. You don’t have to play first in beer pong, or push to the front of the line to get concert tickets. It’s all about the experience. Soak it all in and enjoy.
- You don’t have to be involved in everything – being busy is great, but it’s important to relax and focus on yourself every once in a while. Step away from your chemistry homework and watch an episode of The Office, meet a friend for a chai tea latte, or just dance to “Shake It Off” in your room. That usually does the trick for me.
- If you start something, you have to finish it – while you don’t have to be perfect at everything, you do have to finish what you’ve started in order to get something out of it. “You would never go skiing, decide in the middle of the hill that you don’t like it, and walk the rest of the way down.”
This advice seemed so stupid to 13-year-old me. But looking back on my middle school years, and even thinking about where I am in my life today, I realize that in order to be my best self, I can continue to apply the advice that I was given as a child. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Be confident. Be strong. Be yourself and embrace who you are.
Since when did my parents become smart? Or when was it that I realized that they truly are always right?