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Dear Teen, When The World Tries To Break You Down, Stay True To Yourself 

Dear teen, 

Now that you are older, you are reaching an age where I can no longer shelter you from the unpleasant parts of life. Throughout your childhood, it has been my goal to shield you from the hurts and pains of this life. But the truth is, my days of being able to do that are coming to a close. There is a huge world out there, a world full of adventure and exploration. A world wild with possibilities – both good and bad. And the thought of releasing you to it is terrifying. It’s not you that scares me. I know you. I know your heart. I believe so much in your ability to succeed out there. But the rest of the world…. I don’t trust what I know of that. You see, this world will do its very best to bring you down. It will dish out more heartache and temptations than I ever want you to face. And although I will ALWAYS be here for you, I can no longer protect you from them. So, as I begin to let go and watch you step out into this big wide world on your own, please remember this: Stay true to yourself. 

When the “popular” girls at school hiss and whisper as you walk by, or when you are constantly the brunt of the jokes by the guys on the team, stay true to yourself. When there are so many pressures to look and act a certain way, participate in certain activities, or achieve certain standards, remember that you don’t have to fit into anyone else’s mold. You’re not meant to. Fitting in is never worth the cost of sacrificing your true identity. You can lose yourself in the constant pursuit of being what the world wants, and you’ll never find true contentment in that life. Never compromise your values or your character. You are enough. You are who you’re supposed to be. 

When you don’t make the team, don’t score first chair in the orchestra, miss the mark on the grade you wanted, or you are given the less desirable part in the play, stay true to yourself. Don’t believe the lies that you’ll tell yourself that you’re not good enough. Instead, let those closed doors be opportunities to learn and find new ones. You are capable. You are not a failure. You are resilient. 

When you get betrayed by your “friends” or have your heart completely shattered by a boyfriend or girlfriend, stay true to yourself. Your worth is not defined by others’ opinions or treatment of you. People will hurt each other, it is a sad reality of life. But that reflects far more on the ones doing the hurting than the one who is hurt. You are worthy. You are valued. You are lovable.

When our own relationship feels rocky and you feel I am being unfair to you, stay true to yourself. We are both figuring out this stage of life, and we will both make mistakes as we do it. Offer me the same grace and forgiveness you want to be shown to you. Remember that nothing you do can change my love for you, even if my frustration or our disagreements make you feel otherwise. I would do anything for you simply because you are my child and I adore you. As your mom, I have the responsibility of raising you, and sometimes that pressure weighs heavy on me and causes friction in our relationship. But I am so proud of who you are. You are respected. You are cared for. You are loved. 

When you feel lost and uncertain and you don’t know how to find your way in the world, stay true to yourself. We have all felt this way at times, stuck with decisions we had no idea how to make. I understand how scary and stressful it is. Know that in time it will work itself out and you will know just what to do. Even if a mistake is made, you can always come and tell me about it and work together on solutions to fix it. When the world feels overwhelming trust your instincts. You are brave. You are able. You are strong.  

No matter what this world throws at you, know that you will make it through. On days when it feels too heavy to carry on your own, I am always here for you. But the times I can’t be out there with you, know that you are enough. No matter what comes, stay true to yourself. Because who you are is exactly what the world out there needs.

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