“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1
A DJ on the radio station I listen to asked the following question: “If you could go back in time, knowing what you do now, what would you tell your 13 year old self?” People called in with lots of good advice like finish school, study a foreign language, invest in technology. One even made me laugh when she said, “Don’t worry about your hair, someday they will make products for that.” Their answers got me thinking about what I would say to 13-year-old me. I wish she had known not to care so much about what other people thought of her. To avoid making decisions based upon how it looked to others. To allow herself to make mistakes without obsessing over them. To know that mistakes are learning opportunities not failures. Perfection is an impossible task and pursuing perfection will only make you crazy. The most important people love you for who you are, not who you pretend to be. Being real and transparent and honest are good qualities to have and in the long run, much more respected than perfection. I would tell her to ease up on her friends. The world is not black and white, there is a lot of grey in between, and people who live in the grey are welcoming and accepting and have long lasting friendships. I would tell her that friends are a gift and to carefully consider before throwing away that gift in favor of being right. A judgmental attitude, even on a pretty face, is unbecoming. Not to mention mean. A single word from “a popular girl” should not wreck someone’s life, but it can. And that she doesn’t have to be the boss of everything all the time. Making people laugh at someone else’s expense will keep her awake 50 years later so find another reason to laugh. Listening is better than talking. You learn more and build bridges. That being a peacemaker is not just for war time and politicians but for 13-year-old girls who can sow discord or peace. Drama might be exciting for a time, but it gets old fast. Most importantly, I would tell her to take time to rest and enjoy her young body and the unfolding world around her. To not believe that she must strive or work or reach for the things all the time. That naps are good. To be herself. Because she has a lot of gifts and talents and can make a difference in the world but only if she gives up the weight of being perfect and pleasing others. To take responsibility for her happiness, not that of everyone around her. To make a difference in one person’s life is as important as changing the entire world. I’d say, “Don’t be afraid of the future. Every step will prepare you for the next one. Someday, you will write that book.” Oh, and that zit on your nose will be gone tomorrow. Don’t squeeze it and make it worse.