Blog creator, Jessica, answers: “What would you tell your younger self?”

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baby me

I guess it is my turn.  I have had a few entries over the last year that women in my life have submitted under this category of “What would you tell your younger self?”  This thought for me is constantly changing.  It is usually shaped by whatever I am going through at the time or certain things I have observed.  My life experiences have varied and I have been a witness to happenings that even as little as five years ago I could have never imagined.  Therefore, let me say that by no means is this all of the advice I could give to my younger self, but it is what I feel I can share today.  I hope that through this blog and through what I have written below, you can find comfort, similarity in your life or that of a friend and feel like you are not alone.  I do not think that I live with regrets, but if I was given the chance to change a few things, I think I would.  I have faith that I was destined to be wher

e I am today and that I am destined to be wherever I am at the end of my life, so I do not worry that changing things in my past will have affected my end result like some people do.  I am happy with where I am and I am so blessed with those in my life.  And so I begin with a letter to myself…

Dear Jessie,

You always thought about what it would be like to be 27 years old, but you never could really picture it.  You thought you would be married, which you are, and you thought you would have kids, which you don’t.  The only person you really pictured yourself as at this age was Barbie, and well…you were a little off, but that’s ok!

There are some things I wish I could have told you, but it’s a little late for that.  Instead, I will share these tidbits in the hopes that someone else might feel a connection and take something from what I have to say.  But don’t worry Jessie, you are doing just fine and those you love and look up to are still standing by you, 100%.

Love, Jessica.

What I would tell my younger self:

-Everything mom and dad told you was right!  I know you have to learn for yourself, but remember that there is a good reason (or two!) that they say the things they do.

-Be happy you don’t look like everyone else.  Here are some compliments people will give you about those odd little things you are not sure you appreciate: “I love that you have these moles (pointing to my shoulder, chest and upper lip).  I like them.” (friend in high school); “You have the best neck.” (husband); “You remind me of a young Ingrid Bergman.  You have the same sparkle in your eye.”(shuttle driver in California); “You’re thick in a good way.'” (athlete at school).  Some of those compliments may seem silly, but everyone appreciates something different so be you and let people figure out why you’re great on their own.

-Never sell yourself short.  In high school, you let school take a back seat to your social life.  Frankly, looking back, I think you could’ve had a social life, played sports and still earned straight A’s.

-Don’t let one thing, like having a boyfriend, run your life and forget about everything or everyone else.  The first person you date will most likely not be your last!

-Friends always want to be there for you.  Let them.  Be loyal to them and never say anything about someone behind their back that you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to their face.

-Be kind.  Always.  Remember how it hurts when others tease you.  Don’t take for granted that you have supports – seek out lonely people and befriend them.

-Drinking can be fun, but so can not drinking.  Know your limit so that you stay true to yourself…and thank God facebook and twitter did not exist when you were in middle and high school.

-Do not dress for others to notice you.  Dress for yourself.  Your skirt does not need to be shorter and your tops do not need to be tighter.  The right boys will notice you for you – not how much skin you show.

-Don’t lie to your parents.

-Respect your teachers and your coaches.  Even if you don’t agree with everything they say or do, respect them.  ***Side note – I never disrespected my parents by yelling at them or belittling them.  When I see kids talk back rudely, curse or act condescendingly to their parents (I am talking about good, kind, appropriate parents) it makes me feel sick.  Do NOT do that to your mom and dad.  It does not make you cool and it will not get you very far in life to treat others like that.  You can never replace family so don’t push them away.

-Don’t be afraid to be silly!

-Dance at the school dances.

-Throw “the rules” out the window!  If you want to go out with someone, ask them.  If you want to dance with someone, ask them.  The worst that can happen is they say, “no,” and you move on.  Don’t wait around for someone to call you – if you want to talk to them, call them!

-Hug your friends when you see them, and hug them goodbye if you want to.  Everyone wants to feel wanted.  Show them you’re happy they showed up and that you can’t wait to see them again.

-Tell people what’s on your mind.  If you want someone to know how they make you feel, tell them.  If you want to tell someone that you are proud of them, tell them!  No one can read minds and it feels so good when someone let’s you know something intimate like how you’ve impacted their life.

-Do not live in fear.

-Make decisions that you can be proud of.

-Know that when things don’t go the way you planned, everything will still be ok.  You are who you are, and you can do anything.

-Make yourself indispensable in everything you do.  Work hard and you will be noticed.

-Don’t doubt yourself and always trust your gut feeling.

-Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

-Don’t forget that you are loved.

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…I would tell her about Jamie Hubley.

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Click on this link to read about Jamie Hubley and watch a short video about his love for singing.  Jamie was a bright young man who liked to perform and sing, and he was openly gay.  Jamie was a young man who was bullied relentlessly by his peers, and his life ended in suicide.

It is good to have knowledge, even when it is painful or sad to learn.  Know what happened to this young man.  Know that it was wrong.  Know that somewhere, administrators/teachers should have stepped in.  Friends should have stepped in.  Strangers who witnessed this bullying should have stepped in.  Shame on those who thought they had a right to treat Jamie like trash.

By ignoring bullying, you allow it happen.  If you are too scared to stand up to a bully, tell an adult and get them to do it.  You are still helping.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”   -Edmund Burke

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men and women do nothing.”    -Me

Be sure to check out this blog during the week of November 13-18, as that is National Bullying Awareness week and I will be doing more posts on bullying.

…I wouldn’t want her to deal with depression on her own.

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Did you know that, according to the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia in 2011 (you can find the article at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002486/), adolescent girls are twice as likely to experience depression than adolescent boys?  This is one scary statistic.  So, why do young girls become depressed?

Depression is described as being sad, discouraged, and un-motivated.  It can also be a loss of self-worth and a lack of interest in things you used to enjoy.  There are many varied factors that can cause a young girl to be depressed.  The A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia says that depression can be caused by maturing and changing hormones or all different kinds of stress/disturbing events like physical or sexual abuse, bullying, learning disabilities, conflicts with your parents, failing in school, breaking up with your significant other or the death of someone close to you.  You are more likely to become depressed because of one of these events if you feel helpless or are too critical of yourself or if it runs in your family.  A lot of young people with depression also experience other mental health issues like anxiety, an eating disorder, ADHD, or Bi-Polar disorder.

It is extremely important to let someone in on what you’re feeling if you are experiencing depression.  It is ok to feel depressed and it is out of your control.  You don’t need to feel ashamed to tell a relative, teacher, doctor, friend’s parent, or friend that you trust.  Once you tell someone, you have started the process of healing.  You don’t have to face depression alone.  Remember that.  Also, I want you to know that it can get better.

There are several ways to treat true depression (by true depression, I mean the kind that consumes your life and you can’t simply will it away).  You can seek supportive care from your doctor, talk therapy (this is also something to be embraced and not feel ashamed of), or in some cases, you can be prescribed anti-depressant medications.

Depression, like any mental health disorder, does not make you “crazy”.  Many people experience a mental health disorder during the course of their life.  You are not alone and there is support out there for you.

A great resource is the National Institute of Mental Health website.  Here is the web address for their support page:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/getting-help-locate-services/index.shtml

Thank you to the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia found on the website for the U.S. National Library of Medicine for the facts about adolescent depression.

…I would tell her to work with other girls and not against them.

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Why do we try to cut each other down?  I don’t know why we do it, but I know that we do.  I’ve seen it and I’ve been guilty of it.  Whether it’s the girl who starts the rumor, tells someone else the rumor, or allows someone to tell her the rumor and doesn’t stand up and say that it’s false, that girl is part of the problem.  Talking behind someone’s back, whether it’s the truth or not, is cutting someone down.  The purpose of gossip is to make the person you’re talking about look worse in the eyes of the person you’re telling.

We live in a time where, as girls, we are already fighting against outside forces that want to bring us down.  Television shows like “the Hills” portray us as catty, reality television shows like “Jersey Shore” portray us as shameless, and even the news channels like to play up the missteps of women in power to make them look simple-minded.  It hurts me to see us hurt each other.  We are smart, motivated, and caring.  We should be standing by one another and helping to lift each other up.  Think of all the wasted time and energy we put into disliking the girl that is different from us or the girl that wants the same boyfriend that we do or the girl who is going for the same spot in Student Council as we are.  If we could refocus that energy into seeing the beauty of another’s uniqueness or enjoying that the girl who is the best fit to be Student Council President gets elected, we would be in such a better place.  It hurts when I hear someone say something negative about me, so why would I do that to another girl?  I don’t want to be the cause of hurt for another human being.  I want to be the reason that someone smiled!

There are enough people trying to make life difficult for girls.  Let’s not help them!  We all just have a human desire to be liked by other people.  Is it really so hard to just be nice?  Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little.  Together we can do so much.”  If we work together, we can change the world.

What is a way that you’ve supported another girl?

What is a situation you’ve had where you wished another girl had helped you?