14 sucks… aka Teenagers Love Yourself… aka A letter for my Niece

Ahhh…. fourteen… Grade 9 baby.  Such a hard and challenging time.  You were just FINALLY the top of the heap at school, and now you are at the very bottom again… and this time at highschool, someplace scary and challenging on a good day.  Fourteen’s also this weird time where you have really cut ties with all things kid even though there are still pangs for that carefree-ness… but you are still too young in the teenage years to really have anyone look at you like you are close to being an adult – and that is what you really really want… to feel like an adult.  This is the period of reinvention for so many… but reinventing what… who they are?  Who they want to be?  Who they think they have been?  Who they have always been seen as?

In your head you are soooo there… you and your friends really talk like you are there…. the rest of the “so-called adults” just don’t get it…  This head-space is where one of favourite people… my beautiful (even if she doesn’t see it) niece is living.

Fourteen… all the teen years really, they are defined in many ways by friends… the friends you make… the friends you keep and lose along the way.  The friends that drift away, but come back again.  Friends help us find ourselves in ways that you can’t see until you are well past your age and looking back on it.  Distance is such a wonderful thing because it give perspective to all the things that feel so big you can’t see past them at the time.  

Friends can also the be the one thing that stop is from seeing who we are sometimes.  The mirror that is held up to us with who they need us to be can be overwhelming… so easy to accept… so easy to fall into…  but at times distorted.  The mirror has to be held by someone that sees you for you, and not for the person they need of you.  Are you really seeing your reflection, or their needs in that mirror?  Is that a healthy mirror?

In Hamlet Shakespeare wrote the famous line “to thine own self be true”…  and adults continuously say that to kids in hopes of helping them not cave to peer pressure.  I have watched this girl grow up and change and struggle and do all she can to be here, and I guess the question we need to ask ourselves is – how do you do this when you have NO idea who you are yet?

Let me start by telling you what I see….  what we all see. 

You are FIERCE – You are BRAVE.  There is so much inside that leaves scars and hurt that no one can ever really understand , but we really want to.  You stand tall and proud, even when you don’t want to.  You have built all kinds of safety layers to protect yourself out of necessity.  You have your own ways to test people, to hold them at bay…  just know more than anything we want to just love you while you accept those scars and find your own path to healing.  When you feel sore and achy, alone in what you carry, remember this – We see you.  We always see you, even when you want to hide, and that will never change.  You aren’t alone even when you push us away. 

You are an ARTIST.  Sometimes I am sure this may feel like a weight of it’s own…  Artists are a different type of soul.  You see the world in a different way, and you can translate that to paper, make it visual in a way others can’t.  But this can lead to a rawness and even a vulnerability that you may not want to share.  Always remember that your artistry is your gift and you can share it how and when, and with whomever you choose.  But it is also a means of healing and letting some of what you carry on your youthful shoulders out.  Think of it as a means to unburden yourself at times.  

You are a SISTER/DAUGHTER/COUSIN/NIECE.  You have a family… a very large family full of flawed people (because we all are flawed and scarred in our own ways) also trying to figure out the world as well.  But the best part of this, family means LOVE.  It can be hard to understand, hard to see, hard to accept at times, but it’s there.  In the way your mom talks to you… in the way your sister laughs with you… in the way that your cousins hug you… LOVE


You are an INDIVIDUAL.  The most complicated piece of all… What the heck does this mean?

Let me tell you…. you set your own rules for your heart and your feelings.  You get to decide who you want to share this with.  But you also get to decide if they get to keep the rights to reside there, or if it is time to revoke their membership.  And that is power.  It’s a power no one can take away from you, and that can scare people.  

See… people like to feel like they have control all the time.  But no one can, should, or want to control another person’s heart or feelings.  When you take control of that for you, it makes other people realize that you can’t be theirs to do as they please with at will.  Remember this….  it can be so HARD to flex this “muscle” and to assert this kind of strength, but it is so healthy to do it.  

So what am I really saying… “OMG… Auntie A… get to the point”… I am getting there, I promise.

In your heart and head you are the person you are meant to be and going to be; you are just getting to know that person.  Even better, you don’t have to be who anyone else wants or needs you to be.  Every morning all you need to do is wake up and be the person who makes you happy… who you feel in your heart , who feels comfortable in your skin at that moment.  And it may not always be the same… it can change, but they are all you.  And if you can learn this… embrace this… and just get to know who makes you feel whole inside, then my dear, at that moment, to thine own self you are being true. 




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