I am writing you this letter to give you on your thirteenth birthday, which is tomorrow. I still sit here in awe knowing that tomorrow you are going to be a teenager. I don’t know how the time went by so quickly and how my little baby, toddler, preschooler, elementary student…became this beautiful, smart, funny, caring and feisty, almost lady. You have blossomed right in front of my eyes over the last year and will only continue to do so as you grow into yourself over the next several years.
Whether it seems relevant to you or not, I know what you are going through. As you’ve reminded me, I do know times were different back in 1993. In fact, I came up with thirteen differences from my life at thirteen:
- We still had land lines and long distance bills (that I frequently got in trouble over for calling boys from out of town)…oh and no caller ID or call waiting (do you know what a busy signal is?) but you could look up someone’s phone number in the phone book (do you know what that is?) and you had the last four digits of every single one of your friend’s phone number memorized
- Cell phones were called “car phones” and only parents could use them because we were charged by the minute…and there were no games, videos or apps on them
- The Internet was just making its way to Iowa and if your family had AOL, you were the bomb, but only one person could be on it at a time
- We watched movies on a VCR and we had to wait like six months for a movie to come out on tape
- Instead of play lists, we made mixed tapes that you had to manually rewind or fast forward to find your favorite song
- We had to actually watch the commercials during our favorite shows
- The selfie hadn’t been invented yet and we couldn’t see ourselves in photos until the film was developed
- We couldn’t document our every move on snap chat or even text our friends…we actually had to call them…or knock on their door!
- We could still walk around town at night on our own
- We had to read Teen Bop or Teen Beat to keep up on our favorite celebrities
- We had to buy the latest fashions AT THE STORE, and beauty stores like Ulta and Sephora didn’t exist so we had to fill our caboodles with Wet n’ Wild make-up and lip smackers
- We had to stalk our crush with random walk-bys past his actual house or calling and hanging up, and we had no idea if he was home or what his family ate for dinner
- We had to pass notes in school to find out if someone liked us. Note folding was a talent
So, maybe things have changed just a little bit now that you are a teenager. However, I am now older and wiser and there are many things that have not changed…so here are thirteen facts that are still true today that I want you to know:
- What seems like the biggest deal right now won’t matter in six months or a year, and definitely not later in life
- You have no idea what people are actually going through – no one’s life is perfect and no single person is perfect, even if it seems like it
- You don’t want to peak now…or anytime soon
- You can never go wrong by being nice. A simple smile, hi, or asking how someone is could change their day, week, year or life
- People that are mean or put other people down, are actually the most insecure and need the most love. Forgive and give grace always
- It’s not all about you…ever. Open your eyes to what actually matters and how you can make a difference. The world does not owe you ANYTHING
- Be comfortable in your own skin – you are unique, you are beautiful and you have so much to offer the world – so just be YOU! If others don’t like it, that’s their problem, not yours
- You would stop worrying so much about what other people think of you if you realized how seldom they actually do – everyone is inherently self-centered so they are thinking of themselves too, not you
- Everything is ok in moderation – learn healthy habits now or it will catch up to you when your metabolism slows down – move your body in ways that are fun to you, control yourself and don’t overindulge in anything in life, except your faith and service to others
- If you have a dream or want something to happen, do your part. Hard work ALWAYS pays off and most of the time in ways we can’t even imagine up front
- Solve your own problems now, while the stakes are low, and when the real problems of the world come your way, you’ll be ready. It is ok to make mistakes, but learn from each and every one so you don’t make the same mistake twice
- Whatever situation you are in – good or bad – it will change. Time is the ultimate healer. Be patient and give time its proper time. Even change you know is good change will be a transition, so those changes also need time
- You have the strength to get through anything, as long as you lean on God and not yourself
I probably needed to write this list as much as I want you to read it. Enjoy. Smile. Be happy. No one can make you happy but YOU. Enjoy these years. Enjoy getting your summers off, hanging out with your friends, spending your parents’ money and sleeping in. Enjoy being you. Enjoy the sunshine and the swimming pool and soak in the smells of every season. You will miss it. You will regret taking it all for granted because you didn’t know there was anything else beyond it. You will miss sleep when you have babies, but they will change your life in so many more wonderful ways…like you changed mine…thirteen years ago. THANK YOU.
I love you and couldn’t be prouder of you. I will never miraculously accept bad behavior, attitude or disrespect, however, I will always be here to guide you, push you and challenge you. You definitely won’t always like me, but one day you will thank me. One day you will understand. And it is ok if you don’t understand today – you’re not supposed to.
Happy birthday sweet girl, YOU ARE LOVED. God is smiling down on you today and always – don’t you ever, ever forget that.