This past weekend I attended the Taylor Swift concert in Phoenix and besides the obvious “ohmygodTaylorIloveyou” moments, I had a few instances throughout her set that made me really think. Attending a Taylor Swift show and deep thoughts might not be the first pairing that comes to mind, but there was one song in particular that really got my wheels turning.
Now, Taylor Swift listener or not (I am a reluctant-turned-enthusiastic kind of fan myself), I think the song ‘Fifteen’ can be appreciated by most women. Behind it is that old teenage mindset that this is truly it- that everything going on is the end-all-be-all of your existence, and the whole idea of how great it would be knowing then what you know now. But of course this is the timeless adage of life; hindsight is 20/20 and naturally everything is so much clearer when you’ve already experienced it.
But it got me thinking: what would I tell my 15-year-old self if I had the chance? I’m no stranger to this nostalgic look back – about a year ago I talked about this on my own blog – but after this weekend’s show I had to revisit the topic.
So to my 15-year-old self, I say this:
15 years old is a hard age; you’re not a girl, but not yet a woman (hello, accidental Britney Spears lyric), and this in-between stage can be a bit tumultuous at times. You’re still trying to figure out who you are, and you will spend the next few years of your life trying on looks and identities as if they are hats, taking them off as quickly as you put them on. Eventually you’ll figure it out, but be aware that the friends you make in each stage of your soul-searching might be hurt by your flippant and sometimes flaky attitude as your move through your journey. Remember to be kind. You’re a social butterfly, and at 15 you trust everyone you meet. This will become a problem during that first summer in high school, but you’ll quickly realize that not everyone means what they say.
A couple of things: keep on trusting that instinct of yours. You’ll see as you get older that you are almost always on point. That feeling you got in the pit of your stomach when you met what’s-his-name? You were right. That odd premonition about camping in Payson? Yup. And feeling weird about getting in the car with those guys you and Amy met in Tempe? Right again. Run, don’t walk when your head tells you to get moving. Realize that not everyone is as honest as you. At 15 you feel like you have something to prove, and you want to impress the older kids that have taken an interest in you. Please know that you don’t need anyone’s approval. You are enough on your own, and you don’t need to pretend to be anything you’re not in order to fit in.
Another big one: slow down. At 15 you can hardly wait to get your license. At 16 you’ll be in the biggest rush to have your own car; at 17 you’ll be focused on graduating. Soon enough you’ll be in college. Stop. Realize that this is it, and trying to rush ahead to the next phase is futile. Time is time, and enjoying where you are at may be one of the most important lessons you’ll eventually learn. At 29 you’ll find yourself looking back in awe at that far away adolescence, wondering where the time went.
Some specifics: be nice to your father. He may seem overprotective but one day you’ll realize that everything he does is out of love. Spend time with your Mom. It’s hard for her to see her little girl growing up so quickly, and before you know it you’ll be away at college and miss her more than you know. Treasure those moments with your parents and sister. Do not, do not, do not pierce your belly button on your 16th birthday. Twelve years later that hole will still be there, annoying and itchy as you are pregnant with your first child. And yes, I said child. You will become a Mom one day, meet the great love of your life and live in a small town with the both of them. You’ll be happier than you can imagine. This seems unfathomable now I’m sure, but keep this in the back of your mind as make your way through high school and college and date all the guys you naively think are “the one.” Another thing- don’t be too cool. Keep on having fun, and embrace your unique self. You’ll attract others with the same interests and years down the line you’ll realize that true friendship is so much more than just being on the same dance team or partying together week after week.
And finally, remember that you only do this once. All of the heartaches, ups and downs, the happiness, the hard moments, they’re all pieces of this one go-round called life. Try to focus on this perspective as you make your way through the next ten years. It’s all part of one big story, and at 29, it’s still a mystery with no clear end. That’s the beauty of it. So enjoy it girl, the ride’s only just beginning.
How about you? What advice would you give your 15-year old self? I’d love to hear more in the comments, or reply to me on Twitter (and while you’re at it, add Taylor herself onto the tweet!). Can’t wait to see what you have to say.