An acquaintance recently asked for 13 tidbits of advice to share with their daughter for her thirteenth birthday. It was a wonderfully thoughtful gift, and as I sent the lengthy message, I realized these 13 tips are pretty universal, and decided to post them here.
1. You are more powerful than you’ll ever know. Your life matters, and you are a leader. Every little moment you think no one is paying attention, as well as the incredible milestones you’ll accomplish, will impact someone. Never worry about whether you’re deserving, or significant. Focus instead on how to lead, and on what you stand for. Because of your power, learn to be gentle. Learn to be kind. Learn to be loving. In every scenario.
2. Looking good is about being healthy, well-cared for, stylish, intentional, and appropriate. Own your appearance and trust your style, and how that will change. If you don’t know ask for help.
3. Others will try to tell you what your sexuality is, what it means, what you should do with it. You, and your body are not a toy for others to lust after or desire. Your first understanding of your sexuality should never be imposed on you by a crush, or media, or anything outside of you. Understand, and never forget, you own your body, your feelings, thoughts, actions and ideas just like you own your identity. Sex is not just an activity. It’s a deep spiritual act designed to bond two people together for life. Don’t be afraid to say no to things that seem weird or uncomfortable to you. That doesn’t make you a prude, or sheltered, or anything but clear about how valuable your choices are. Be careful who and what you allow into your realm: Mind, body, spirit.
4. You have a purpose and you were made on purpose, to be whole, pure, joyful, free, true, great, loved and love. Anything that suggests otherwise will hold you back: Never be afraid to say no to it. You become like those you spend your time with, so choose carefully who you spend your life around.
5. Never use being great as a crutch to pass for average. You will be different from, better than many of your peers and it is okay to be set apart. Never try to fit in. Who you are is your greatest asset. There is no one else like you. Learn your gifts, hone your gifts, and share them every opportunity you get. Be who you really are, and expect others to do the same. They will come and go but your relationships will be honorable.
6. All your life you will develop habits. Just like biting nails, only some habits are in the way you think, behave, or feel. You can always learn a new habit, a healthy one. Keep your mind fresh by reading, listening, drinking in new ideas and thoughts that feed who you were made to be: Joyous, truthful, good, loving, pure, free, self-controlled.
7. Self-control, discipline, passion, and work are absolutely mandatory for greatness.
8. Build a spiritual foundation. Everything else will change, will crumble, shift, grow and transform except that. Having a spiritual grounding gives you a stable, purposeful life that can change the world. Be mindful when you feel strongly about something and can’t explain exactly why: There is usually a spiritual reason that is perfectly clear behind it. Learn, and know those foundational truths so you can live your best life.
9. Always, especially when you don’t feel able, honor your parents, and your family. Honor others. When you do, you honor yourself and others will do the same.
10. Don’t believe the lies about finding love. It’s everywhere. So is lust. They do. Not. Work. Together. The reality is, mathematically speaking less than .00001% of the population will be the person you marry. Which means 100% of people will not be your spouse. That means instead of thinking about the world of strangers as potential dates (which are also potential mates) really, you should learn early to live like you’re at a family reunion. At a family reunion, you assume everyone is related to you and thoughts of dating potential are non-existent.
11. You are loved. You are accepted. You are wanted. You are perfect now, because you have everything you will ever need in this moment. People will love you the best way they can and sometimes that will hurt. Don’t withhold love because of it, and don’t feel obligated to take on their hurt.
12. Have fun! Be silly, laugh until you cry, try new things, meet new people and live unabashedly you.
13. You can always choose peace, love. You have control over your thoughts, and therefore your feelings. Be willing to look within. When you don’t feel peace or love something is not right: Excuse yourself, close your eyes, pray, meditate or do what you must to reclaim it. Every major emotional crisis you will enter is about something that happened to you as a very young child. When you feel overly angry, sad, jealous, rejected, offended, or helpless it’s because of something that happened in your life before you could really do anything to influence it.