As the mom of a daughter, I often think about the big life lessons I want to teach her. In doing so, however, I've discovered that a lot of the important ones I learned as a young girl didn't necessarily make their way to womanhood. They got lost along the way, and now, as a mother, I'm having to relearn them alongside my child.
Here, some of the hallmark lessons I hope and pray she'll remember her whole life long.
1. Trust your instincts.
From a young age, your gut will steer you in a very clear direction. Listen to it. It's your intuition, and nine times out of 10, it's right on. As you get older, though, you might push back against your better judgment — often because someone is trying to sway you, pressure you into a different way of thinking. It's important you don't back down from what you believe in.
2. Take risks . . . but understand the consequences.
Don't be afraid to take a leap. Just be prepared for what happens if you fall.
3. Never let anyone tell you you can't do something.
You might not notice it now, but at some point in your life, you'll begin to think that there's just certain things you can't do — only boys are good at that, only rich kids can have those, only popular girls go there — and it'll quickly become the standard way of thinking if you let it. Don't ever base your actions on the approval of others. You alone call the shots on what you can do.
4. Love freely.
Hearts that don't break don't love. A flower will wither, a beloved pet will get sick, and someday "The One" might not stay. Keep loving just the same.
5. Love your body.
It's the only one you've got. Treat it with respect — feed it healthfully, and it'll grow just as it should. If it's not what you wanted, if someone else's body seems better, get over it.
6. Learning from mistakes is better than being smart.
Natural talent is incredible, it really is. But it's not necessary. Dedication and hard work will get you further in life, and the times you slip up will provide you with more opportunities to develop than when you simply get it right.
7. You can only do your best.
Yes, nothing is worth doing if you don't do your best. But also accept that there will be times when your best won't be good enough. You might try your hardest and still not succeed. Accept defeat, but don't let it keep you from trying again.
8. The world will change you if you let it.
It's no secret that the world is a difficult place. War, starvation, violence, hatred — they can harden the softest, most innocent of souls. Consider these trying times as defining moments, in which you are being tested. Will you let a persistent bully make you angry and afraid, or will you rise above and remember that the world can be a beautiful place, too?
9. Admit when you're wrong.
It can be frustrating to swallow your pride, but the simple words, "I'm sorry" — when expressed genuinely — can work wonders on a damaged friendship.
10. Crying doesn't make you weak.
Denying your emotions is the worst thing you can do, second only to holding on to pain for too long. If you need to cry, do it. Let it out, and then let it go.
11. Time can heal most wounds.
For those terrible things, when a good cry doesn't suffice, know that time — and with it, perspective — can work wonders. You must have patience and an ability to compartmentalize to get through each day. Just remember that some heartache will always stay with you, so you'll have to learn how to live with it.
12. Don't take others too personally . . . or yourself too seriously.
Try not to let criticisms tear you apart just as you shouldn't let compliments go to your head. Don't expect everyone to treat you the way you deserve to be treated. And as important as you are, don't assume that the world revolves around you. Your mother's world might, but she's the exception.