For many people, their early teenage years are a time of development, identity exploration, and awkwardness. For example, when I was 13, I was constantly fixated on my appearance, worried about finding a boyfriend, and I cursed myself for not being good at the sports that my friends played. Although I'm sure that my parents gave me good advice about these struggles, I was stubborn (like most 13-year-olds are) and I often assumed that they didn't really understand. In fact, even if I could go back in time, I doubt that my 13-year-old self would take any of my advice. Nevertheless, here's what I'd say.
1. Wear the clothes that you like to wear, not the clothes that you think that you should wear to fit in.
A lot of the trends that are cool now won't be so popular in five or ten years.
2. Don't be embarrassed by your braces.
A lot of people have them (especially in middle school) and you'll get them off soon enough. Just own them! Plus, when you look back at your middle school photos, you won't be embarrassed about the fact that you had braces. Instead, you'll be embarrassed that you made ridiculous "duck faces" to try to hide them instead of just smiling.
3. Don't stress out about "dating."
Most of your middle school "boyfriends" will end up being just regular friends, acquaintances, or distant memories.
4. If someone starts a rumor about you, don't freak out.
Chances are good that no one will even remember what the rumor was about in five years.
5. You don't need to cake your face in makeup to "fit in" or look "grown up."
If you want to wear makeup, wear it because you like the way that it looks.
6. Some of your friends will stay your friends for a long time, but others won't be a huge part of your life in the future.
Don't fret when things start to change. Instead, be thankful for the people who you've had fun with.
7. It's OK if you're not good at a certain subject in school.
Your eighth-grade report card does not define you. You still have lots of time to figure out what you want to pursue.
8. Don't be ashamed of having hobbies.
During their early teenage years, a lot of people act like it's "cool" to do nothing all of the time. This is not true.
9. Don't be embarrassed by your parents.
They do a lot for you. Don't act like you don't know them when they come to pick you up from school or walk a few feet behind them when you're shopping at the mall.
10. Be patient.
Enjoy your youth! It goes by more quickly than you might think. Sure, it can be an awkward time and you want to finally be taken seriously, but don't try to grow up too fast. Adulthood has its ups and downs just like being a teenager.
11. Control yourself on social media.
I understand that getting a Facebook is new and exciting for you, but this does not mean that you need to post updates about what you're doing every minute. Just live your life! In a few years, you'll look back at your timeline and cringe a little bit.
12. Hang out with people who you truly enjoy being with.
Friendships should make you happy. If they don't, it's OK to give people some space. Everyone grows up at a different pace.
13. Stay true to yourself as much as possible.
Everyone makes mistakes, especially as a teenager. Just be who you are and own up to your actions.