Thursday, March 13, 2014

Words of Wisdom For Your 12-Year-Old Self

Sometime last week, I read an article from a magazine giving tips as to what simple steps we can take to discover more joy in our lives.  One of the recommendations was to imagine what you would tell your 12-year-old self to reassure her that it's all going to be okay.  (Don't ask me why the age of 12 was chosen).  

I decided to give it a shot today after trying to remember who I was and how things were like when I was 12.  That would be in the mid-'80s and I was probably simmering in a whole lot of Michael Jackson, Madonna, Wham and Hall & Oates, not to mention all the sentimental love songs by Whitney Houston, Paul Young and Phil Collins, most of which I most likely didn't fully comprehend.  How  could I?  I was only 12, though by then, dying to be 13 just so I can claim to be a 'teen', more mature and free to do as I wish.  Ah, the joys of being young and naive!

I remember that at 12, I couldn't wait to be older and by the time it was less than six months to my next birthday, I would tell some people I was 13, rationalizing in my head that I'm simply rounding it off.  I couldn't wait to be older and not be a 'child' anymore.  I was insecure about a lot of things and just couldn't wait to move on to the next phase of my life, hoping that a few birthdays would automatically spell out a host of desired changes.  Again, the joys of being young and utterly stupid!

Anyway, here is my list for my 12-year-old self and I hope that somehow it manifests even just a faint glimmer of wisdom gained from close to three additional decades of birthday celebrations.

1.  Don't let your body size define you.  

Don't waste your time trying to be skinny because you'll never be.  First of all, you were born with a big frame so no amount of dieting and obsessing will turn you into the typical petite Asian size.  Second, I know that you're only obsessing over your size because you've been told that being overweight and 'chubby' make you less 'lovable' and unattractive to the opposite sex.  In your heart you know this is not true so ignore those destructive voices.  There is so much good and love in you to focus on, so much more you can accomplish if you just stop criticizing yourself  for your size.  Remember that you are worth more than how you look.  

2.  Take your time with (the idea of) falling in love.  You will find and be found by someone really special.

It's okay that most everyone around you are having boyfriends.  Trust me. It's not because you're unattractive or awful.  You're really just meant to take your time and focus on more important things right now that will help you mature better.  Besides, 'boys' will not sustain your interest and attention. When the time is right, you will find and be found by a real man and it will be worth the wait, worth every ounce of passion that is so natural for you.  And yes, true love can look past body fat, stretch marks and bad hair.  

3.  Believe our parents when they say that you and your siblings are loved equally, even when you feel you're not getting the attention that you crave.  

Sometimes it may feel as if you're not doing enough, achieving enough, being enough.  And sometimes you may feel ignored and that your other siblings are getting more of the spotlight.  But trust that you are enough to your parents and that they do love you unconditionally.  Your soul alone makes them proud of you and that they mean it when they say they couldn't ask for more.

4.  You may be reserved or generally shy.  But you will still be able to gain friends who are true, and be in the company of remarkable souls who will truly enrich your life.

It's okay if you don't feel very social.  It's okay that you don't enjoy the attention of strangers or people who don't matter to you.  Just know that the seeds of friendship are nurtured when you remain true to who you are and accept others with humility.  You will be surprised and overwhelmed by the support and friendship people will offer you in the future, just because you gave everybody a chance sometime in your distant past; just because you were humble enough to realize that people are merely different, instead of better or worse than your self.

5.  Take good care of your skin and don't take it for granted.

You may disagree and hate it when Mom tells you to clean your face at the end of the day, or shield your face from too much sun, or to not bother with make-up until after college. But you will thank her later.  Trust her. The woman knows what she's doing.

What words of reassurance do you want to say to your 12-year-old self?


  1. Beautiful post, Joy. You are insightful as always. I have a really long list, but the first thing that came to mind is similar to your number 1 item. To paraphrase, I would tell my 12-year-old self to look at herself in the mirror with all her so-called flaws and know she is beautiful as is. Also, I would tell her to get comfortable in her own skin, don't be so self-conscious. Others will accept her and those who don't she doesn't need in her life.

    1. Thanks Adriene, and glad you enjoyed the list. Telling my younger self to be less self-conscious would have been really beneficial. Sadly, I'm still a bit like that but fortunately, much less.

  2. Its not so much words. I would just give her a really big hug and tell her that everything will be okay eventually. It really will.

    1. Oh Janine, what a wonderful idea! A hug would be great for my younger self too!

  3. What a lovely post, Joy, love the tips you give to your 12 year old self. I have some troubles going back to my own 12 year old self, I guess I spent my early teen years worrying a lot about my physical size and missing curves, feeling unloved and desperately wishing to appear older and more beautiful, hell I was probably wishing for the knight in shining armour on a white horse to come and rescue me!

    1. You and me both, Barbara! It's kind of frustrating to think of all that wasted time but then I suppose we had to go through all that to find wisdom, right?

    2. Hey, soul sister! I love to think of it as a process we had to go through in order to find wisdom and understanding for my daughter when she went through the same phase (though I do not want to ask her!) and maybe today I listen more and do not disperse unwanted advice to young people!

  4. What a lovely post, Joy! It seems to me that you had a good childhood, and I couldn't help being a bit jealous. If I could talk to my former 12-year-old self, I would say: run away! It is not you, it is your family! If only...


Let me know your thoughts!