|One year ago. Us. Being cool. Like we are.|
I want to scoop you up in my arms, cuddle with you on the couch, eat mashed potatoes and watch Charlie and Lola and close my eyes and remember when you were my teeny sweetie.
But that seems strange now that you are SIXTEEN.
How did this happen?
Wait. I know how this happened. It's life. It's the way.things.go.
I'm ok with you getting older, only because I am on.the.edge.of.my.seat waiting to see what you choose to do with your life. Because now, my dear - your life, well -- it's yours. Sure, you still live under the roof of your Mom and we can hear her saying, "Look up. See that roof? Whose is it? Mine.", but every decision you make from here on out? Well, it affects no one but you.
SO, with that in mind, I will tell you, my much-cooler, much-more sophisticated, much-more socially graceful than I was at your age, niece - what I wish I knew at 16.
1. Life won't always be like this.
There will never be another time that you'll live under the same roof, like this, with your family. I wish I would have appreciated my little sister busting into my bedroom when I was sleeping. I wish I wouldn't have rushed out of the house and ignored my family because they were annoying. I wish I would have appreciated them more. You'll miss these times.
2. Your Mom is doing the best she can.
My Mom drove me crazy. Not like, "Oh, she won't let me do that - kind of crazy," instead around 16 I started to dissect every personal decision she ever made and declared both to myself, and to her (how lovely of me) that in my infinite teenage wisdom that she had made bad decisions. Not until I held Lila in my arms did I realize that my Mom did the best she could, with what she had. And I love her for it and respect her for it. So, just know - Moms do the best they can and at this point, you don't know the whole story. One day, you'll get it. You'll be there before you know it.
3. Stop comparing yourself.
Sixteen is the height of comparison. You're gauging your attractiveness, self-worth and EVERYTHING based upon what's going on in the media and with your friends. The truth of the matter? Comparison is the thief of joy. Don't focus on what you don't have, focus on what you do have. And truth? I've met like 3 people who look the same in their grown-up-life as they did in their teenage life.
4. Don't pick your face.
It will scar. And don't EVER over-pluck your eyebrows, for you will still be growing them out at almost 36.
5. Writing will forever keep you afloat.
Always, always, always write. Write forever and for always. Write down quotes that you like. Write poems. Learn the lyrics to oldies that strike a chord with you. Write in the moonlight, write under a blanket. Write outside, all alone, as tears stream down your face and wet the page. Always, always write.
When you write, you will grow.
6. When you're dating someone, your friends and family should see a positive change in you.
If you have to hide anything, if you don't like you when you're with someone - that's not the right person. You can never, ever, EVER change ANYONE. EVER. When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them. And walk away. There's someone better out there. P.S. That someone out there will start out as your best friend...
7. Don't screw your friends.
Yep. Oh man, I did this. Get a boyfriend. Don't hang out with girlfriends. Lose boyfriend, try to be friends with girlfriends again. Rinse, repeat. Don't do this. Your girlfriends are your oxygen. Appreciate them. They come first, at least right now they do. And use them as mirrors. If they hate the guy, there's a reason.
8. Stop with the gossip.
Had I learned, "It's not my story to tell" 20 years ago, life would have been different.
9. Sixteen-year-olds need jobs.
Get a job. Buy your own stuff. Make your own money. Do it now so that you're not SHOCKED about commerce and life when you're 18. Our parents' responsibility is not to pay for us forever. And you don't want that, either. Paying for things yourself is incredibly fulfilling. So, get a job. Oh, and those jobs? Those are the best memories ever.
10. You're enough.
Every now and then my Mom would grab me by the shoulders softly, look in my smug teenage face and she'd kiss my nose and my cheeks and she'd say, "Kylee, you know I love you." And my bristly teenage facade would melt and I would know that I mattered and that I was loved.
Chloe, my dear...
Please know that you matter and that you are loved.
Happy birthday, precious girl.
I love you.
Make me proud. I know you will. And I expect that you will.