10 Things I’d tell my 13-year-old self if I could change her life

A friend asked me awhile ago to join her and other women in creating a book of wisdom for a niece who is turning 13. Of course, I want to participate, I told her. And promptly got busy on the many other things on my plate.

But it has been sitting in a corner of my mind. The wondering of what would I tell my 13-year-old self about life, love, living? What wisdom do I most want to share to inform her journey?

I let my mind float. Let it empty itself of conscious thinking and sink into the reservoir of known but unseen wisdom within me.

Ten Things I would tell my 13-year-old self if I could change her life.

  1. There is no such place as forever. Nothing is forever. This too shall pass. Whatever you are experiencing, the trauma, the angst, the joy, they are all illusory. Transitory. Ride whatever is happening hands free, barefooted, body wide open to the experiences of life. Now is not forever.
  2. You’re okay. More than okay, you are amazing. Just the way you are. There is no fashion too out there, no style too wild if it is what you want to wear. You are not too fat, too skinny, to short, too tall, too under-developed, over-developed. You are who you are, how you are. And that’s amazing.
  3. You are worthy. This is a tricky one. Your mind wants to steal this one away and hide it because to know your worth, you must risk — the unknown. the perceived impossible. You must risk the ups and downs, ins and outs, overs and unders of life. To know your worth, you must know there is nothing, noone, no way anyone can steal it from you. It is your birthright.
  4. Believe in you. Really, really believe in you. Don’t question your right to be. Don’t question you’re right to go anywhere, do anything, anyway you choose. Be you. Everyone else is taken. Wear your hair up, down, wild, straight. Colour it pink, gold, orange or green. It’s your body. Your hair. Your skin. Your life. Your right to believe in you and be you just the way you are.
  5. Be kind. People will say mean things. Do cruel things. Be kind. Like you, they struggle to know their worth, find their place, feel their feelings. Like you, they are taking this journey of life without a manual, unable to control and predict everything life will throw at them. Like you, they are sometimes scared, sometimes silly, sometimes confused, sometimes wise. And like you, they too are looking to fit in, to belong, to be part of something bigger than themselves. Be kind, no matter how they act. Be kind.
  6. You don’t have to find your meaning. You are your meaning. Live it with your whole heart wide open to life. Your meaning is not in wearing the latest fashion or having the coolest stuff. Your meaning is found in how you approach every moment, engage every person from that place where you know, no matter what you think they think about you, you think and know you are amazing, just the way you are.
  7. Seek magnificence. Don’t go looking for mediocrity. Seek to be known through your magnificence and seek always to know others through theirs. Don’t look for fault, seek the lessons, seek the knowing, seek the value in all things.
  8. Risk often. Life isn’t a predictable series of events over which you have ultimate control. The only person you have control over is yourself – and even then you’ll sometimes doubt just how in control of yourself you are. Risk anyway because, if you’re involved with others, there will be lots of messy, sticky, unexpected and sometimes painful things happening on your journey. They’re just things. It’s all just stuff. You are amazing  – I know, I said it already – it’s true. Believe it. Risk living from the place of knowing you are okay, you are amazing, you are magnificent. Risk living as if it’s true — because it is.
  9. Smile often. Laugh lots. Dance always. And when you cry, cry out loud. When you laugh, laugh out loud. And when you see injustice, ask what can I do to change it, and do that thing with your whole heart and know, that is enough. You are enough. You don’t have to have all the answers, you only need to learn the one’s that will allow you to make the difference in the world you want to see and be. And that’s enough.
  10.  Get creative. Don’t go looking inside boxes for the recipe for life. Live it not knowing what’s next. Live it expecting the unexpected. Live it free of holding onto hurts and pains, sorrows and regrets. Live it up. Fill it with joy. and always, always SHINE! Because you are amazing. You are worthy. You are magnificent. And that’s the only truth you need to know to live your life fearlessly in Love with all of you.


28 thoughts on “10 Things I’d tell my 13-year-old self if I could change her life”

  1. Soooo…. I am getting ready to rush out for the weekend. My daughter is in a (PAYING) <<YAAAAAY!!!! 🙂 Play called Vanities and it is up in a resort mountain community so my best friend and I are going to go see it! I am so excited! Anywaaay, I was on my phone which always says LOADING (whatever that is about) when I am trying to post on your blog and signed in under my other blog so you've gotta know that THIS really touched home!!!! I had to reeeeally love it to come and make sure I LIKED it and commented here! I LOVED this one Louise! This was soooo great!
    A few years ago I wrote something similar
    But it was to an even younger age and not as epic as yours!
    This was wonderful!


    1. You make me smile always. And wow!!!! Congrats to your daughter. How very exciting. give her a hug from me. Tell her I think you’re amazing! And enjoy the trip — sounds like great, great fun.

      And thank you for your beautiful words and encouragement. I sooooo appreciate you.

      I remember your letter btw — very moving. Hugs


  2. OMG Louise … you have written the whole book. This is so perfectly beautiful that I’m going to have to find a new way to incorporate it into the book. Thank you so much for taking the time to condense your wisdom so perfectly!


  3. Morning Louise,
    Thank you for you words.I have shared them with my daughter who just turned 22 yesterday.
    Now, I need to motivate myself to continue packing for a camping weekend in Jasper.
    Enjoy the long weekend.


    1. Good morning to you too Yolanda — how lovely that you shared my words with your daughter! Thank you. I am not packing up to camp this weekend. 🙂 It is predicted to rain in southern alberta — do you have better weather up there? Harrump! 🙂

      HOpe you have an amazing long weekend too my friend (and yes!!! I mailed it!:))


  4. Great list. I think I’d be sure to add something about beauty and body image as that’s so important to young girls. I know I hated how I looked at 13. One of my sister’s created a journal for my eldest son when he graduated from high school and collected advice from many people — she’s an artist– she collaged an entire chair with the sayings and also a journal. Nice present!


  5. Louise this is a BRILLIANT post. When I read your title was mentally ran through what i thought I would do before I read your post. When I thought about it, the advice that I would give my thirteen year old self would be entirely different than what I would give my thirteen year old daughter which again would be entirely different than the advice I would give my daughter now as a 25 year old and again me as a sixty year old. Then I read the rest of your post. The thing that struck me was that the advice was applicable to ME right here, right now at 60 years of age! Would i have listened when I was only thirteen? I am not sure. Yet at the same time the advice you have listed would apply to all those people (me at 13, 60; my daughter at 13, 25) . It is timeless.


  6. Thank you Elizabeth. Funny — when I was writing it I was trying not to think about me as 13 but rather, what would have made a difference in my life if I’d known these things at 13. And, as you say… whether or not I’d have listened…. well, that’s another matter! 🙂

    and yes, they apply to me today at 60 too. Hugs my friend. Hope that winter’s imminent arrival in your part of the world is a welcome respite from the heat!


  7. Louise, your stories always put a smile on my face & give me the push to look inside to see how I can ‘be’ more present. Thanks for expressing your vulnerability so eloquently.


  8. Louise, you remarkable woman; you’ve just been my mother, or should I say – I wish you had been my mother when I was that frightened, confused girl of 13.
    This post needs to be hung on school walls; oh heck, it’s 2014, it should be on all the social networks where, not only 13 year olds can read, but woman of all ages…!
    Such a joy to read this.. Smiling and relating, sweet woman…


  9. Wow…! What an amazing list Louise! Thank you for sharing another delightfully inspiring post. Love “You are your meaning”. xo Gina


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