I'm sure you've done it. Fantasized about going back in time and battling all those teenage woes with the wisdom you've garnered now as an adult.
Maybe you'd tell your thirteen year old self that she is beautiful. Just the way she is. Braces, freckles, acne, frizzy hair, stringy hair, over developed, under developed, lots of friends, no friends, band geek, drama geek, sports geek -- that it all doesn't matter in the end. That finding true self-acceptance is about loving who you are (even in the 'imperfect' moments) and that believing in yourself is one of the best choices she could make.
Maybe you'd tell your thirteen year old self that she really can reach her full potential in life if she follows her dreams, takes good care of herself, and gathers around her a group of people who support her, listen to her, and talk to her. Maybe you'd tell your thirteen year old self that the heartache she feels right now because she feels rejected, alone, ugly, stupid, or defective are really just passing moments of emotion. That they aren't the truth. And that she will get through her hard time. And go on to flourish! Maybe you'd tell her that she is loved. Just because. Just because she is worthy of being loved. Maybe you'd tell her that she should take a risk and try out for that school play or present her science project in front of the class because taking those risks will help her cultivate a sense of confidence that only comes from doing the things that really scare you (and living to tell about it!) Maybe you'd tell her that she isn't alone. That other girls (and adults) feel the same way she does. And that if she can just raise her hand, ask for help, or try to find the right words to express how she feels that there will be someone on the other end more than happy to lend an ear or a hug.
Or maybe your conversation might look a little like mine would - if I could go back in time.....
Jess Now: "13 year old Jess, I promise you -- your hair will grow back."
Jess 13: "Really? You promise? Because this is the worst hair cut ever!"
Jess Now: "Yes, I promise. And one day you'll make peace with your curly hair, too. Do you know people pay a lot of money to get perms?"
Jess 13: "You sound like our mother. She always tells me that."
Jess Now: "Well, don't tell our mom, but she was right. You'll come to love and appreciate all the things you think you hate about your appearance."
Jess 13: "Impossible"
Jess Now: "No, really. You'll soon discover that all the time you spend on hating those things can be spent on appreciating and accepting your own real beauty. You'll even make a career out of sharing this message with others."
Jess 13: "No way."
Jess Now: "Way"
Even if we all can't go back in time to re-do our teenage years, we can do simple small things now to help a girl in our life. Just by spending time having a conversation about self-esteem and confidence you can truly make a difference in the life of a girl. Those minutes you spend can help erase negative messages, confusing relationships, and age appropriate self-doubt by replacing it with a meaningful moment of connection. Don't ever underestimate the power of your words and your time. To you they may be just moments but to her they are the wisdom and moments that change her life. Join us in the vision of the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem where beauty is a source of confidence and not anxiety and tell us what you wish you would have known at thirteen here!
Considered this generation’s “Go to Girl” for self-esteem, Jess Weiner is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Talk to Jess, LLC and the Actionist® Network. She is also the author of two best-selling books, "A Very Hungry Girl" and "Life Doesn't Begin Five Pounds From Now". She currently serves as the Global Ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Fund and travels the world speaking and hosting workshops on self-confidence.
Jess Weiner will be speaking at The Women's Conference 2010.