Growing up is a weird time. Go ahead and try to change my mind. You can't. I don't regret the tween years. After all, they got me to where I am now, but there are too many things I wish I could tell my twelve-year-old self. Maybe if you are younger you will read this and take my advice, but most likely that will not happen. I don't think if anyone told me these things when I was twelve I would have listened, but I guess that's the funny part about growing up. We hear the same things over and over, but we don't actually listen until we have experienced it. So, here are five things I wish I knew when I was twelve:
1. Nobody cares that much
I said it. You might be shocked, but no one actually cares all that much. No one cares if you wear that blue shirt today or tomorrow. No one cares if you decide to hang out with your family on a Friday night instead of going out with friends. Look. Obviously, people care about you. So many people. The thing is that the people who truly care about you don't care all that much about what outfit you put on that day or how you did your hair. No one is going to sit there judging you for laughing too loud or just being you. If they are judging you, then they definitely are not worth your time anyway. Dr. Suess said it best: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
2. If your friends make you nervous, they're not your friends
We have already established that being twelve is a self-conscious time. Let's not make matters worse. If you get anxious to hang out with your friends, they are not your friends. If you fear what your "friends" are going to say about you behind your back, they are not your friends. I know I am making it sound simple, and even though it is a simple concept, it is not the easiest thing to do something about. When you are twelve years old, a majority of your friends are the same people you have grown up with. They are all you have ever known, and it can be very hard to move on. So, yes, it is going to hurt, but just remember that if you do not feel comfortable enough to be your true, maybe kind of crazy, self with your friends, then who are you going to be comfortable with?
3. Don't be intimidated by the people who make more noise
As a middle schooler I was extremely introverted. One of the most frustrating things about being shy was being afraid of the people who were louder and more outgoing. I remember going to soccer tryouts in seventh grade and feeling as though I was not as good, not making as many friends, and just not having as much fun as the girls who were more vocal and seemed to be best friends after two days of tryouts. I forgot that everyone was in the same boat. I forgot that everyone was still trying out just like me and that most of the girls did not know that many people yet either. So don't be intimidated by the people who make more noise. Being quieter does not make you any less talented.
4. Start doing more of the things that you love
Since I was considerably less confident after changing from elementary school to middle school, I was not as enthused to get involved in activities, even if they were things I enjoyed. This one is pretty simple. Get involved. You will meet more friends who are like-minded. You will feel good at the end of the day if you are doing at least one thing routinely each day that makes you smile. It does not matter whether it is a school sport, cooking club, or the chorus. If you are putting effort into something you are invested in, you will get positive results in return.
5. Fake the confidence, and it will come
Fake it 'til you make it. It probably sounds a little odd to you. What do you mean fake the confidence? Trust me on this one. It works. If you stand tall, put your chin up, and tell yourself that you are fully capable of accomplishing whatever it is that you want to accomplish, you will do it, whether you actually believe it or not. You will convince yourself that you are able. You will trick your mind. In all honesty, I still use this trick probably every single day. Confidence does not come easily. We all have our doubts. We all worry about what other people think sometimes.
At the end of senior year, my best friend was going to give her salutatorian speech on graduation day in front of hundreds and hundreds of people. She was preparing and practicing her speech for months before, and often people would ask her how the speech was coming along. She would proceed to tell people how nervous she was and often talked about how scary the experience was going to be. One day I looked at her, and I told her to just fake the confidence. From then on any time someone asked her about the speech, she would look at me and smile, "I am a little nervous…but I am really excited!" We would laugh because we knew it was a stretch of the truth, but graduation day came and I have never seen my friend so relaxed. We were making up stupid handshakes in the hallway minutes before she walked up to the podium. She was prepared, and she knew it. She faked the confidence, and in the end, it came.
Alright, folks. There it is. Growing up often means feeling self-conscious and confused, but you will turn out okay in the end. That's a promise! If you are twelve (or any other awkward middle school age), feel free to email me and I will happily be your big sister ;)