It has been said that youth is wasted on the young; you don't think so when you are young, but looking back you finally have it all figured out. Well, I'm 50 and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Having said that I do really, but maybe I've just left it too late.
There is a lot of emphasis now on body positivity, I for sure struggled with that my whole life. When I look back at photos of when I was 16 I feel so sorry for that girl, so much time spent thinking I was fat; I wish I was that 'fat' now. But it's not just learning to love the skin you are in, it is also about developing emotionally and spiritually. Again I wish this was something I had mastered at an earlier age. Forget learning to build relationships with other people; learn to have a healthy relationship with yourself first. It's never too late, especially if you move away and can start all over again where no-one knew the other you(!)
I spent my 20s making excuses for all types of negative behaviour. Blaming my parents as I drowned my sorrows; never taking any responsibility for my own behaviour. Without a doubt our parents do have a huge influence over how we see our place in the world, how we view ourselves, and how we go on to build friendships and learn how to form an intimate relationship. It's a real shame that for some we don't learn how to shake all that off until we've had a family of our own, sometimes even later. Maybe never.
Wouldn't it be great to offer debriefing classes to 16 year olds. Try and unravel the barbed wire that will inevitably choke them for years to come. Send them out into the world with a different perspective, enable them to explore their own feelings and mental well being. Reflect on the idea that some of their best qualities may have evolved as a result of their past negative experiences. Teach them to embrace those qualities and not fight against them.
There is such a vicious cycle of being parented, parenting and repeating bad practises. Some people make a point of not repeating these practises and do the opposite to their parents. Some don't. So how do we empower those who never get to know how beautiful they are, inside and out? Isn't that sad, imagine dying never having known or believed that you are a beautiful person. If we can't have debriefing classes; we might call them self-empowerment classes; we can make a difference little by little.
As a parent it might seem obvious, but maybe not to some. How many times do you tell your child you love them, you are proud of them, that they are beautiful? We are the most important person in that little person's life, and they believe every word we say, let's make them positive words. It's not just at home we can help; everyone we meet has value. We can make them feel valuable. At the risk of sounding like some cheesy motivational speaker, let them know that they are valuable, that they exist, you have noticed them and what they do. You must remember a time when someone surprised you in that way, and how it made you feel.
For me giving birth to my son when I was nearly 30 was like a magic wand. Nothing else mattered other than his happiness. His unconditional love enabled me to learn to love myself. I look at him now and I know I've done a great job. If he can love me, then I can love myself. I am a friendly, kind and honest person (as well as incredibly funny). I care more about making someone laugh and smile than I do about the size of my hips, thighs and bum. I wish I hadn't wasted so many years hating myself, but then maybe that was part of the process.
Looking at yourself in the mirror isn't going to give you the answers; look at the face of the person you are talking to.