You’re getting to an age now where life starts to get very confusing. Even more confusing than it was back when you were a baby, when you regularly got confused between your orifices, and tried to consume pureed butternut squash via your ear, and put sweet potato chips up your nose.
You’ll start to find yourselves facing a daily onslaught of opinions from friends and family and teachers and social media and advertising and celebrities and society in general about what’s important in life. About what you absolutely must do if you’re ever to make a success of yourself:
# Pass your exams
# Get a job
# Lose weight
# Get married
# Clear your overdraft
Etc, etc, etc.
With so many people shouting so many different things at you, it starts to get confusing. And so I feel like it’s my job, as your mum, to help you out. Because I’ve been where you have, too. And it really is confusing.
So here you go. Ignore the noise. Here’s the stuff that really matters:
#1 Find your tribe. Not necessarily the popular ones. Not necessarily the cool ones. Definitely not the ones who will drop you like a stone, the moment they decide that your face doesn’t fit. But the ones who will be there for you, in the good times, the bad times, and the in between times. Find them; hang onto them; don’t ever let them go.
#2 Oh, and on that subject, one true friend – even one you don’t see for weeks or months at a time, then pick up as though you’ve never been apart – is worth ten thousand fake friends.
#3 Work hard, but don’t beat yourself up when things don’t entirely go to plan. So long as you’ve worked hard enough not to feel disappointed in yourself, then you’ve done everything that you could possibly do, and more.
#4 Some things are in your control; some things aren’t. If you spend too much of your time focusing on the latter, and not enough on the former, then life can get pretty miserable, pretty quickly.
#5 Some people are good at passing exams. Some people are good at scoring goals. Some people are good at walking into a room of strangers and immediately making friends. Know your strengths, and celebrate them every single day. Accept the areas where you’re less strong, and don’t let anyone try and tell you that you’re less of a person because of them.
#6 YOUR SELF WORTH MUST NOT BE BASED ON HOW YOU LOOK. YOUR SELF WORTH MUST NOT BE BASED ON HOW YOU LOOK. YOUR SELF WORTH MUST NOT BE BASED ON HOW YOU LOOK. If I could say it a thousand times, I would. Beauty is not perfect skin, or thigh gaps, or glossy hair, or new clothes. Beauty is happiness. Beauty is kindness. Beauty is you.
#7 Be kind to others. Every single day. Multiple times, every single day. Kindness is like love; we don’t run out of it, if anything, the more we demonstrate it, the more we get. There will always be a load of terrible things going on in the world that we can’t do anything about. But that doesn’t mean we can’t change the world; and prioritising kindness, compassion and consideration is the very best way to go about doing that.
#8 If someone makes you feel like shit, then get up and walk far, far away from them. And don’t hate them, either. Hating is such wasted energy, that we could be putting to much, much better use. It’s their own unhappiness and insecurities that make them behave that way. Walk away… and then maybe, when you feel strong enough, turn back around and see if you can help them, too.
#9 Do the things that make you happy. Sing loudly. Eat cake. Give hugs. Fuck the fucking housework. Binge-watch TV series. See friends. Read a great book. Laugh so hard a little bit of wee comes out.
#10 Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Speaking up because you’re feeling sad, or can’t do something, or need a hug, doesn’t make you weak. It’s a sign of strength.
#11 And on that same topic, be alert and watch out for others who might also need help, but aren’t yet at the point of being able to ask for it. Be there for them. Because by being there, we change lives.
#12 If you love someone, tell them. And tell them again. And again. And again. And keep on telling them, because once they’re gone, you’ve lost that chance for ever.
#13 You deserve the opportunity to do something you love. If you’re stuck in a job that you hate, don’t just sit there and accept it as the status quo. We spend a hell of a lot of hours at work each week; we deserve to spend them happy.
#14 Ironing is so utterly unnecessary.
#15 It’s okay to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ll be honest: none of us do really, we’re all just muddling along, the very best we can.
#16 Relationships can be amazing, but don’t ever, ever feel that you need another person attached to you to be successful. Or loved.
#17 And on that topic, if you’re ever in a relationship with anyone who hurts you – physically or mentally, demeans you, or makes you feel like a lesser person, then you need to know that that isn’t love. That’s abuse.
#18 Be proud of you. Don’t wait for anyone else to do that for you. Loving yourself is one of the hardest and most important things that you’ll ever do.
#19 Love with your whole heart; live with your whole soul; throw your everything into every single day; and have no regrets. Because you are amazing.
#20 No matter what happens, no matter how bad the situation seems, you can always come to me. And we’ll work things out. Because while I’m still breathing, know that I will always, always be there.
I love you.