The "11th Thing" Wisdom Deluge

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I ran a contest last month on my Facebook page where people entered the one thing they would add to my list of 10 Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls.   I read all of the submissions last weekend and it was the greatest evening I've had in a long time.  You guys are really, really smart.   I was forced against my will to choose my 10 favorites (you can see and vote for your faves here), but I wanted you to experience the wisdom that I got to sit under last Saturday night. The thing about "10 Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls" is- they're the same 10 things I'd tell anybody.  The application varies, but the principles are the same.  The same is true of these reader submissions.  Halfway through, you'll forget you were reading things written to tweens, and take a whole Post-it pad's worth of notes to self.

Last thing:  These were all sent to me without their authors' names attached so that I could choose objectively.  If one of these is yours, let me know in the comments or via the contact form and I'll add the attribution.  You should have credit for your brain-babies!

Enjoy these runners-up! love, Kate

Don't be fake, because that's a hard game to keep playing.

I've seen girls who try to impress their friends by being in sports they don't even like or pretending to have read every book in the library while they're secretly just reading summaries online. Trying to impress their friends in these ways are harmful and tiring.  Let people love the authentic you.

You don't need to know the (your) whole story to do the next right thing.

Sometimes we want to know how things will turn out. Where should I go to college? Who should I marry? What career should I pursue? But those things come. You don't NEED all the answers when you graduate high school. You need to know and do only the next right thing. The practice of doing the next right thing in little decisions makes the big ones more obvious, and it's easier then to choose the right thing in the big decisions. So when you can't see "around the bend" just do the next right thing.

Fairy tales are overrated!

Love shouldn't magically happen. Love that you choose, and that chooses you back is sweeter and more beautiful than you can imagine. Love that you fight for will fill you up, full. This goes for friends and men.

The college guy you're dating isn't as awesome as you think he is.

If you're a junior in high school, you wouldn't be caught dead holding hands with the 8th grader down the street. Sure, the 8th grade boy is probably getting high fives all over the place, but your friends are considering an intervention. If there's a cute, 5th year college senior sending you flirty texts, RUN. There's a reason he isn't dating girls his age and IT'S BECAUSE HE'S NOT AWESOME.

Find your thing and do your thing with all of your guts.

Having a hobby, a sport, an interest that captures your heart will form your identity and put you in a circle of like-hearted cool kats, and that, my friends, is a saving grace.

Find a way to laugh every day.

Laughing instantly changes your mood and lifts the mood of those around you. Don't take yourself too seriously. If you do, you just might miss an opportunity to be uniquely you and help others find their way.

Interact with people, not things.

Don't take life for granted. The people you wished you had spent more time with can get taken from your life.  Make memories with your friends and family while you can. Technology may seen like the best thing that has ever happened right now, but the things you will cherish the most are the times spent with people you love.  You won't remember all the selfies you take, but you will remember the happiness (and sadness) you shared with the people you care about.

Pretending to be someone you are not just to make a new friend is not worth it. You'll attract the wrong type of friends AND exhaust yourself in the process because being someone you aren't is a full time job.

Too many teenage girls so desperately want to belong that they will do anything to fit in, often with the wrong group. It is simply much easier to be yourself, stay true to yourself, and let common friends find their way to you. As a middle school teacher, I see this every day - a young girl exhausting herself trying to be someone she is not. It kills her energy and her spirit.

Be Courageous

Don't allow others' expectations to define your risks; not foolish, life- and reputation-ruining risks, but risks that might go against your established 'identity'. You're the 'smart/perfectionist/leader girl'? Don't be afraid to do something you might not be good at. You're the 'girly girl'? Don't be afraid to try out for a sport you love. Don't let fear of other's expectations of your identity inhibit your personal growth. Set yourself free! Your teenage years are awesome years of freedom where you can try new things and discover areas you might never have known you were gifted in or truly enjoy.

Work hard in EVERYTHING you do.

Your work ethic is being created now--if you learn to work hard now you will continue to work hard in everything you do. Also, how hard you work now will determine where you end up in your life.

Never compare what stage of life you're in with where someone else is or where society says you should be. Every person's journey is distinctly different and beautiful.

We often have a preconceived idea of when and how we should experience different stages in life. "I must graduate college at this age and have my career rolling at that age. I should be married by this age, and having children by that age." But our stories are all different. Jesus obliterated any need for comparison. The Great Shepherd is leading and guiding us, and He knows exactly where we need to be and when.

Don't treat your parents badly, because when you get older they will be your closest friends.

I think that so many girls push their parents away instead of embracing one of the closest relationships they will ever have. Parents care the most about what happens in their child's life and will be there no matter what happens. They also have a ton of wisdom.

Be Kind.

You can be remembered as the girl who got all the guys, the one who made straight A's, the girl who threw the biggest parties, the "Christian" girl, the "mean" girl, the "jock" girl, etc., etc., OR you can be remembered as the girl who was KIND. Our teenage years can be all about self-discovery, self-fulfillment, self-esteem. SELF. How about making it about someone else, every now and then? Say hello to someone you've never talked to, before. Help a friend study for finals. Volunteer at a local church or charity. Pay someone a compliment. Make a donation. Thank a teacher. Thank a pastor. Thank a parent. AND REALLY MEAN IT. Spend a little time, each day, being nice. Just because. Practice kindness early. Make it a habit. Let it change you. Then, see how it will change the world.

Now go read the captions/descriptions (here) for the 9 quotes in the photo and the one I couldn't fit in there (from Mary Kistler which says, "If you believe in fairy tales, learning to spin gold from straw provides a more certain future than hoping every guys is a prince charming).  Their explanations are so good!