It’s the International Day of the Girl, which is a very special day. That is a day. And there are girls. On the day. Internationally. All day.
Or something like that.
Okay, so I have no idea what the International Day of the Girl is. What I do know is that CNN is covering it by sharing quotes from notable women on what they would tell their 15-year-old selves, if they could. (CNN also provided a definition for what the International Day of the Girl is, but I’m in a distractable mental space tonight and to me it read all, “A date that blah blah blah, blooby blahdy dah, did you check your email, blah, blah, crap when is the car payment due, bloopy boo, I wish I had cookies.”) In spite of the fact that CNN chose to share this story by way of a completely useless slideshow – number two on my list of “Things I Hate” – it’s an intriguing question, one I haven’t seen before. It’s kind of like the “Things I Want My Daughter to Know” blog meme that’s been so totally done to death that nowadays it’s really only suitable for casting as an extra on The Walking Dead… limping along, all bloody and bloated, dragging sloppy, snail-like entrails of “Embrace your intelligence!” and “Be yourself!” alongside. It’s the most terrifying of all walkers: the overbearing, boundary-lacking, meddling mother zombie who wants to wheeze her dead breath in your face and talk periods before chomping on your brains.
I’m scared of the undead, both human and cliche forms, and so I’ve avoided that particular meme (even though I’ve got lots of good ideas for it, like, “When you don’t know what to say, quote a Michael Jackson song,” and “It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right, just beat it (beat it).” But this twist – “What would you tell your 15-year-old self” – I like.
What would I tell my 15-year-old self?
Follow your heart. You know better now what you’re meant to do, than you will at any other time in the next 15 years. It’s true. At 15 I was rock-solid on my purpose in this world. I lost sight of it soon after, not to find it again until I was nearly 30.
Pretty boys with soft lips are usually gay (especially if you’re both theater majors). It’s a major hit to the self-esteem to have to learn this the hard way. Especially the second time. And the third. Aaaand the fourth.
Shut the fuck up already. You sound like an idiot and you’re missing chances to learn from people who actually know what they’re talking about. I commend everyone in my teenaged life who refrained from punching me in the mouth.
Next year a bird will poop on your head. Don’t sit under that tree. ‘Nuff said.
Be gentle with others. My biggest regrets nearly all revolve around carelessness with others’ feelings.
Be gentle with yourself. Most of my carelessness was because I didn’t think I mattered, and so was genuinely ignorant of my ability to impact the people around me. It really is true: you can’t love others until you love yourself.
Your feet will get wider after you have babies. Don’t blow entire paychecks on spectacular but narrow shoes – they will NOT last forever. “Are you going to have any more babies?” people ask me. “Not unless I plan to take up scuba diving,” says I.
Always have extra clothes in the trunk. In four years you’ll buy your first stick shift and stall it out on your way to work, on a hill, on an expressway, during rush hour. You will sob and pee your pants a little (by which I mean, a lot). You’ll figure it out, and someday you’ll laugh at it. But you’ll always wish you’d had extra pants.
You will make mistakes. Your mistakes don’t define you; how you handle them does. Apologize promptly and graciously when needed. Accept constructive criticism. Brace yourself to weather peoples’ disappointment, anger, frustration. You can’t avoid mistakes, but you can know you’ve tried to do right after you’ve made one.
Zima is fucking gross. Stop drinking that shit.
You’re going to be okay. A lot of things will happen. Some will be scary. Some will stick with you for a long, long time. Some will give you an anxiety disorder. Some will make you feel depressed. But you will come out the other side, and you’ll be okay.
Don’t go see “Jingle All the Way.” Even if you really like Sinbad. Just don’t.
What would you tell your 15-year-old self?