What if you could sit face to face with a teenage you – pimples, dimples, mood swings, angst and all? What in the world would you tell her? I was asked to write a letter to young Shaunna, given all my wisdom today. Here’s what I had to share:
Look, girl. I know you haven’t lived long enough to understand this crazy world in which we live. You’re about 13 or 14 years young over there trying to figure out what’s important. You’re grappling with your direction because you literally have the world’s opportunities at your fingertips. Let me give you a few pointers on how this world works and insider tips on how you can respond:
Be generous despite the world’s selfishness.
There will be folks out there who are OK with taking advantage of such a sweetheart. Takers continue to take until they are interrupted. So remember this as you continue to pour out your value into the world:
People are not born knowing hatred…
They are not born knowing the inadequacy of themselves and others…
They are not born taking without the intention of giving…
Be aware of all this, but don’t allow a few selfish people to prevent you from being a giver. Be generous with your time, talents, and treasure. Give where your gifts will make the most impact with the full knowledge that you must function around folks who may try to take full advantage without reciprocity. Besides, we all know the principle of sowing and reaping. Not only will you reap what you sow, but you will reap even MORE than you sow. One corn kernel in fertile ground yields many ears. You and I are from the country, so that’s how we know this!
Eat well and move often.
This seems like a simple concept, but frankly I’m tired of reading the data about unhealthy children who grew up to be unhealthy adults. Don’t be that child, so you don’t have to be that adult. Yes, I know it’s not your fault that adults either rewarded you with food, didn’t monitor your wellness, or didn’t make you move enough. However I’m telling you now – prioritize your health. It’s the well from which all other life springs. Go to a nursing home – or even better, a funeral home. The elderly and the morticians both will tell you what happens in the long run when you don’t take care of yourself from the giddy up.
Don’t live a risky lifestyle.
Take care of your sexual health. If you don’t know, ya betta ask somebody – somebody who will tell you the truth. Don’t sleep around. Don’t smoke. Drink in moderation. Wear a seatbelt. Don’t text and drive. All of those simple things can make your break your future. Risk seems like a big word, but simple missteps can create complex problems for you as an adult.
BUT don’t be afraid to take risks.
As my motto goes – Wow Yourself! Don’t choose goals for yourself that are low-hanging fruit. Stretch. Stretch yourself. Do something that you think is just a little out of your reach. You’d be surprised by what you can actually accomplish. Give yourself an opportunity to be surprised. Take that calculated risk.
Hold yourself accountable for an insane work ethic.
For some reason, “hard work” has become a super power when it used to be the norm. Don’t expect anything to be given to you, so that when it is given – it’s a blessing. When something isn’t given to you, it doesn’t derail your plans. Either way, work ethic always works on your behalf.
Stand for something.
Yes, battle fatigue is real. So, I understand that a lot of people experience health problems because they have carried the stress of fighting for something that they believe in. Stand for something, take care of your physical health, while also attending to your mental health. Being a person of principle and legacy requires all of this.
Finally, don’t believe the hype.
There will be a lot of television shows, magazine covers, and articles that will try to make you feel like you aren’t “enough” of something.
You aren’t skinny enough.
You’re not curvy enough.
You’re not smart enough.
You’re not cool enough.
You’re not mature enough.
You’re not capable enough.
Well, they’re a lie and the truth ain’t in ‘em. The reality is, there are lot of people in the world who can make a ton of money from making you feel “less than.” They are creating a fictional problem in the attempt to provide you a solution — at a price.
Don’t believe the hype. Your skin is smooth enough. Your body is beautifully and wonderfully made. Your brain functions to full capacity. You have everything you need to be all that you want to be. Don’t let your insecurities open your wallet and close your mind to your possibilities. Don’t believe their hype, because you inherently have everything you need.
If you like this letter, share it with a young person who needs it.
Dr. Shaunna Payne Gold writes monthly for CRUSH Fitness magazine AND…she’s a U.S. Masters Swimming Certified Coach, Triathlete, Marathoner, Author, Blogger, Educator, & BoyMom, Owner & Founder of SHEro Athletics, LLC.
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