With my twentieth birthday being tomorrow I have been reflecting a lot on my teens. So much has happened from thirteen to nineteen and I cannot believe the time has gone by so fast. My teens were a time of learning, lots and lots of learning. They were filled with laughter and happiness but also sadness and anger. Looking back there were so many days I never thought I would make it, days I was sure I was defeated once and for all. But here I am now, hours before I enter a new decade of my life and I somehow managed to make it through it all. However before I cheers to turning twenty, there are are a few things I have to thank my teenage years for.
Thank you for shaping me. Thank you for somehow taking the awkward, braces faced girl, and turning her into a young woman. Thank you for all of the experiences that molded me into the person I am today. Your teens are such crucial years, you learn a lot about who you are and more importantly, who you want to be, and you learn it isn't always easy to get there. Over the past years I have learned what works and what doesn't, who I am, and what I will never be. When I picture 13 year old me I smile and look at how far I have come since then. Thank you for the people, the places, the adventures, and the lessons that have shaped me into the peson I am now. It wasn't easy, and it definitely did not happen over night, but I can confidently say I am so much more genuinely me after growing up through my teens.
Thank you for the memories. Junior high, high school, and the beginning of college were one hell of a ride and I know I will never forget all of the memories. From laughing fits at the lunch table, to school dances, to winning sports games, it was all a whirlwind of wonderful experiences. It is so strange to me that I lived so many days as a teenager, yet most of them I will not remember. But the ones that I do remember I will cherish forever. I was always the girl with the camera trying to capture every second, every little moment, because the thought of them being gone forever made me sad. Now, I have hundreds of pictures to look back on and rememeber all the fun that was had and all the hell that was raised. I'm sorry at times I took the moments for granted because I didn't realize how important it was while I was living them. I learned that life goes by so fast and that all you have to hold onto the past is the memories you've made.
Thank you for all of the "firsts". Your teens are a time of experiencing things for the first time and it is crazy to think of all the "firsts" I've had over the last seven years. My first time driving a car, my first cellphone, my first car, my first kiss, my first boyfriend, my first prom, my first days of school, my first college acceptance letter, my first job, my first drink, my first day of college. Those are just some of the many special firsts that hapened during my teenage years. There are so many things that just seem natural now and are a part of our every day lives, like driving a car, but every single thing you do there was a moment you did it for the first time. The ones I remember are such special and precious moments that I will always hold close to my heart. When you are young and do something for the first time it is so magical, yet so tragic at the same time because you will never feel the same way again. As I look back with nostalgia on all my teenage firsts, I know my twenties will hold different, but just as many extraordinary firsts.
Thank you for giving me friends who changed my life and taught me lessons. My teenage friends are people who helped shape me and who I shared countless laughs with, regardless of if they are still in my life today. These friends taught me the impotance of true friendship and what it means to be a friend in return. I am so lucky to have so many beautiful people in my life that have stuck around over the years. Not all of my teenage frienships worked out, some ended messily, some faded away, but these are the ones I learned the most from. I learned that your BFF may not actually stay in your life forever, and that's okay, because there's only enough room in your life for people who love you and make you happy. Thank you for teaching me when to let go of toxic friendships and how to focus my energy on the people who make me feel good. I'm not going to lie, my teens weren't all laughs at the lunch table, there were some mean girls. In those moments I remember crying and wondering why they didn't like me, what I did wrong, being completely devestated that my "friends" were turning their backs on me. But I learned that my friends were not these people, but the ones who held my hand and wiped my tears when others were not being as kind. People come into our lives for all kinds of reasons, some to make us stronger, some to each us lessons, and others come in and touch are lives in a way that we are never quite the same. To these friends, the ones that make me glad to be alive, thank you. Thank you for making my teens a blast. For the inside jokes, the nights that turned into mornings, the memories we shared, the stories that aren't appropriate to share, it all means everything and more to me.
Thank you for teaching me how to love myself and for forgiving me when I didn't. This one wasn't easy to live through, or to write about now for that matter. I spent most of my teens hating every inch of my being. I spent countless days, weeks, months, and years, hating how I looked and who I was, trying desperately to change myself. By trying to make myself "better" I only made myself worse. I hurt myself and my body daily, I abused myself mentally and physically because I wanted to be "good enough." I thought maybe if I went for that run, or could fit in those jeans, or could get my hair to look just right, that life would be better, that I would love myself. I was wrong, I was so so wrong. I wish I could go back in time to my teenage self and tell her to stop, to tell her she is perfect for who she is, but of course I cannot. But what I did do is forgive myself and promise myself to do better. Of course I wish it didn't have to be the way it was then, but I believe I had to go through those years in order to learn how to truly love myself. Though it took years of pinching my stomach and running till I collapsed to see my value, I do now, and that's what matters. If anyone ever says their teens were an easy time, they're lying. A lot of my teens were fucking awful. But sometimes you have to go through the awful in order to get to the good. I learned that you have to love yourself first. It took a lot of fucking up, but I learned to love myself. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. There are still times where the old demons creep up and try to pull me back in, but I am older, and stronger now, and I don't want to go back to that place. I learned that I am never going to be anyone but me, and that I only have this one life and this one body, so why waste my time hating myself? I learned what a fucking awesome person I am, that I am beautiful inside and out and that I am so so SO much more than a number on a scale. In my teens I realized that I am not my appearance, but I am my favorite books, my laugh, the way I dance around my room while getting dressed, my favorite songs that I belt out in the shower, my hopes and dreams, my accomplishments. I am the love I give to others, the jokes that I tell, the movies I watch, the places I've seen. I am me, and there's no one else I'd rather be stuck with. So thank you teens, though it was a bit rocky, I finally have learned to love myself.
Thank you for the hard times, I am so much stronger because of them. As I said before, my teens weren't perfect, I had my fair share of struggles. In the moment I remember I would always think "why me?" But I now know that it is because they helped me grow and taught me lessons that I needed to learn. Thank you for challenging me and showing me how to persevere when times got tough. When you're young everything feels like the end of the world, but now I know that no matter how many tears you shed the world keeps on spinning. Life kicks you around sometimes but the struggles you face do not define you, how you overcome them does. Sure at the time it sucked but now I am grateful because at a young age I learned life isn't easy or perfect. I learned that the strongest people have gone through the toughest shit and that life doesn't feel bad for you, it just keeps on going and you have to figure out a way to pick up the pieces. I discovered that no one could fix it for me, that I had to do it myself. I don't resent any of the hardships I've faced because they made me who I am today, and for that I am grateful.
Thank you for teaching me how to be happy. This is a big one. Thank you for pushing me to figure out what made me happy and what did not. For so long I did things and spent time with people that didn't make me happy and sucked all of the energy out of me. But my teens introduced me to so many new things and people and showed me how to be happy. My teens brought yoga into my life which has taught me so much about being happy. Through my yoga journey I have learned so much about life and myself and it is a huge reason why I am where I am today. The past few years have brought me friends who make me happy everytime I am with them. I have eaten delicious foods and seen beautiful places that remind me there is good out there. I was blessed with sports and yoga and photography and sweet summers and nights filled with laughter that showed me happiness is attainable.When I was younger I always thought happiness was this far fetched goal that everyone strived to obtain, but as I went through my teens I realized that there was happiness all around me. Happiness isn't a destination, it's a way of life, and the second I realized that was the second I started being happy. I find happiness in life's little moments and it's so rewarding. Thank you to my teens for giving me the tools and wisdom in order to be the happiest version of myself.
To my teenage years, just thank you. I cannot even begin to sum up the last seven years, they started off at the innocent age of 13, and ended at the slighly (okay, drastically) wilder age of 19. The lessons, the memories, the bliss, the tears, the games, the dances, the birthdays, the summers, and everything in between has been sensational. Even though I write this feeling a bit nostalgic for the years that have gone by and a tad bittersweet kissing my teenage years goodbye, I still smile for all that's happened, all that's changed, and for all that is to come. I hope that my twenties are filled with maybe a little less awkwardness, but with the same life changing experiecnes that my teens brought me. So to my teenage years, goodbye, and thank you for turning me into the young woman I am today who is ready to embrace whatever her twenties have in store. I have a feeling the next nine years are going to be pretty fucking awesome. Cheers to leaving behind the days of teenage shenanigans(most of it...) and moving on to the promises of my twenties.