1. Be yourself. There is no one like you – you are unique, fabulous, creative, and you. There isn’t anyone else you should strive to be like. Learn from other people – explore your talents – but be confident in who you are made to be. I love you for you.
2. Don’t waste time worrying. It’s easy to worry – if you measure up, if you fit in, if the clothes you are wearing are cool, if you are doing the right stuff, if you should do this or that – don’t worry. Make a decision, talk over your decision, be confident in your decision, but then don’t sit in worry. Worrying just takes away time from the present.
3. Appreciate the little things. Of course, this. Take time to start to see the little things in life. It’s those moments that often bring great joy, perspective, and gratitude. Start recording them, sharing them, and seeing them. Joy isn’t something that is handed to you – joy is a posture of your heart that is willing to seek the beauty in the ordinary, normal, good, and challenging moments in life.
4. Stand up for your friends. And your family. Do not let others bully those who you consider friends. In fact, do not let others bully others. We all are people with unique hearts, with families, with stories – there is no tolerance for cutting down, trashing, or hurting others. Be a person of integrity and stand up for those around you.
5. I will always be there. I mean it. In the good, bad, ugly, silly, crazy, funny, sorrowful, made a mistake, need grace, great days, horrible days, normal, unpredictable times of life. In it all. So don’t go wondering about that part of it – just know that you can always come to me. Always.
6. Be firm in your convictions but be willing to learn and adjust. Even if it makes you not popular or cool or trendy. Develop backbone to stand firm in your convictions BUT do not become stubborn or short sighted to learn about others viewpoints and to change yours if you find that yours needs to adapt.
7. Help others. Volunteer. Give of your time. See others in this world. When you are out shopping – greet the cashier – put your phone down and converse. Open doors, help with bags, seek out opportunities to help others. Sometimes it just means smiling and being respectful.
8. Don’t whisper about others in front of others. This just hurts. If you’re going to say something about another person it should be something that you would feel comfortable saying to their face. If it has to be whispered then it’s gossip. And don’t go there.
9. Get enough rest and take care of yourself. It’s easy to be busy and to keep going and going and going. But we are not made to be creatures that never rest. In fact, I want you to give yourself permission to rest and to take times to refresh. Rest is good. And this also means watching what you put in your body – someday you will get older and you will appreciate taking care of yourself now.
10. Cultivate your gifts. Whether it’s playing piano, kicking a soccer ball, drawing, writing, making people laugh – whatever your gifts are make sure to cultivate and let them grow. These things are unique to you and make you you. And, if you can’t figure out what you want to do don’t stress – you’ll figure it out. For now, explore and learn more about the things in this world that make you excited.
11. Read. Pick up a book. Or load one on your kindle. But read. Don’t just read entries on facebook or all of that. Take time to read. Read books on culture, fiction, whatever – but read. Reading opens up a whole new world and challenges your brain.
12. Speak with respect. Bottom line – use your words wisely. It may seem funny to mouth off or be disrespectful but it really simply hurts you. People don’t hear the disrespect, they see an individual who has not yet learned the skill of self control. That being said, there are times that one needs to simply speak up and be bold and sometimes it might sound nice. That’s okay. We need people to speak up at times.
13. Pick your battles. If you went into a meeting with 11 things that were wrong and you decided to address all eleven things then very quickly others would learn that you are not ever really satisfied. Or you might be called a complainer. Instead write your list of eleven things and then from that list pick your top ones that aggravate you and only fight for those. And make sure to listen to other’s issues as well.
14. Seek to understand. This one is hard. Let me repeat that. This one is really really really hard especially if you feel slighted. But the truth is that there is more power in seeking to understand someone else’s point of view before arguing your own. You still may be right, but you gave the other person courtesy and respect before arguing. The heart matters.
15. Chores and work – they’re all good. It may seem like it’s just there to make life miserable, but the truth is that those chores make you stronger and teach a good work ethic. You are learning to be an adult in these years at home. You are not learning that I take care of absolutely everything for you. Therefore you need to learn how to do laundry, cook, and clean and all of that. It may not be fun now, but some day you will thank me.
16. You are not your emotion. Yes, I know that sounds weird, but you simply are not the emotion. You are feeling an emotion – anger, worry, etc – but you at the core are not that emotion. So learn now to take control of those emotions. Do not let them run you. Remember the thermostat/thermometer analogy? A thermometer simply reflects the moods/the emotions while a thermostat regulates them despite the craziness around. Work to be the latter.
17. Work hard. Don’t give up. In the movie “Facing the Giants” there is that scene where one of the kids does this horrible football crawl and he thinks he cannot go ten yards. Well, as you know, he ends up going the entire length of the football field. Because he didn’t give up. He had to stop seeing that he couldn’t do it and instead pushed himself beyond what he thought possible. Most things in life take tremendous work. If you stop, someone else will finish.
18. Always be willing to learn. Or in other words, don’t think only of yourself. We can learn from others. Watch others, listen, and don’t think that you have the only answer. It is amazing what others can teach us if we’re willing to humble ourselves and to just be willing to learn. Sometimes learning is uncomfortable, and that’s okay, it’s the progress not perfection.
19. Surround yourself with people that respect you and treat you well. Friends matter. Don’t align yourself with others who don’t treat you the way you would treat others. You matter, your heart matters, your dreams matter. Be the type of friend that shows your friends that they’re important too. Part of what makes that scene so powerful in Facing the Giants is the fact that he was motivated by his friends to keep going. That’s what you need to surround yourself with – people willing to keep up the fight and try harder.
20. Find balance. In life, marriage, relationships, work, fun, family, and all of everything. It’s very easy to live out of balance and in fact, you will find that most of life is trying to regain balance. Expect that, and then keep working to keep balance. You are only blessed with 24 hours in a day, twelve months a year, and so many years so find that balance in your life because time will simply slip by and years can simply be lost.
21. Try to be positive. Seriously. And I know maybe that’s not easy for you, but truthfully thinking positively takes less energy in the long run. Negative thinking clouds everything – emotions, relationships, what to wear, if it’s rainy, etc… Try to be positive. And the truth is that there are many things that we simply cannot control – like the weather – and is it really worth the emotional energy to get bent out of shape over it? I think not.
22. Be brave. Sometimes bravery means doing the thing you don’t want to do. Or riding that bike. Or getting on a plane and going across the country. Or standing up for the kid who is constantly picked on. You can be brave. I know it. Real bravery often comes in taking those risks that didn’t seem possible.
23. Know that you are loved. Bottom line. And most important. Simply know you are deeply loved. Not for what you do, accomplish, how you look, where you go to school, and all of that. You are loved for being you. You in your imperfect state. You are forever loved.
All photographs used by permission and credited to Hannah Nicole.
Images and original content are sole property of Rachel Martin and may not be used, copied or transmitted without prior written consent.