Listening to all my senior girls during their senior sessions and portrait viewings compelled me to think about what I would say if I could go back 10 years and talk to my 17 year old self. What would I be dying to tell her? What am I dying to tell these fabulous girls I photograph? My heart literally breaks when they pick themselves apart during their premiere viewing sessions. So...
These are all the things I wish she (me) would have known. Mostly, I wish 17 year old me (and every young girl I know) would have learn to love them self--fiercely.
Dear 17 year old me,
1. You’re beautiful. Seriously, believe it when you hear it because it’s true! And not just externally. There is beauty in kindness, humility, personality and intelligence, too. And those last four are way more important than the former.
2. Lose the attitude. It's not cute. Be nice to your mom so you can avoid spending most of your 20's apologizing for your teens.
3. When you talk about and to yourself use positive words. And When someone gives you a compliment say, "thank you" and don't even think about adding a “but…”. And compliment yourself, use positive language. Because what you dwell on is most certainly what you become.
4. Picking and affording college is hard. Deciding what you plan to do with the next three (yay dual credit!) years is stressful. Know you'll still accomplish everything you want to going with the financially sound choice. And unlike many of your peers, graduate debt free (thanks mom) and that will make all the difference while you chase your dreams.
5. Everyone has their own insecurities and imperfections and that’s okay. Don’t dwell on the things you find imperfect. They don’t define you. Love yourself wherever you are because it's hard to move forward if you're in a perpetual cycle of self hate.
6. People will judge you, who cares?! You can't please everyone, so let's just focus on pleasing yourself ok? Once you stop listening to everyone else and start following your heart you're much much happier.
7. Build others up. I know girls can be mean, but be the girl that's positive. At 27 your favorite quote is "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." - Madeline Albright and more recently Taylor Swift. So be a positive force to those around you. Feminism is a movement you get behind, despite that crazy professor in college who freaks you out.
8. Know your worth. Don't look for value in the wrong places. You’re worth it all on you own.
9. Disliking your job won't last forever, if follow your passion. All that hard work will make you appreciate the freedom that comes with working for yourself even more.
10. Advocate for yourself, don't expect anyone else will do it for you.
Girl, ten years down the road, everything will feel complete. Hang in there and do the work. It all starts with showing yourself a little grace and a lot of self-love.
Your 27 Year Old Self,