Taylor Swift and Advice for My 15-Year-Old SelfDanielle Hampton

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.

 

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  1. I loved reading your letter to yourself. I caught the Britney Spears lyric. :) Taylor Swift is the bomb diggity. I, too, was reluctant, but my husband, yes, my husband shared that he and his pals in Afghanistan loved listening to her songs before going on mission; this changed my heart. It’s hard to grasp when I think about it, but at fifteen, I would have already met my husband, and that year we would start dating… Crazy…

  2. Thank you so much for that. I am 15, and currently have tears running down my face. Thank you. Lucy xoxo

    http://www.her-name-is-lucy.blogspot.com

  3. I had what you might call a “troubled” Teen-hood and so I often think about if or how things could have gone different. I end up coming to the conclusion that I don’t really think I could have, even in hindsight, done things differently.
    As things stand I don’t have advice or a solution for the pain I was in at the time.
    Someday maybe…?

  4. I would say run, run far away from that guy and keep dancing like there is no tomorrow because there will be one and in it you may not be able to dance no more. I love this tay swift song I think I might have teared up when I first heard it. I felt I learned a lot of hard lessons at 15…but they made me better :)

  5. Self, remember a couple years ago when Mom told you to smile because the world likes happy people? She was right; keep on smiling, its going to make people want to be around you.
    You know how Dad is always bugging you about wearing your seatbealt, even though some of your friends don’t because they don’t think it’s cool? Listen to him; in 8 years that seatbelt is going to save your life.
    Older men are too experienced for you, tread with caution. Younger boys are too immature for you, tread with caution.
    Someday you will learn that your life does not revolve around guys; that being in love is not about NEEDing the other person, but about not needing that person but still wanting to be around them.
    You’re much stronger than you think.

  6. I’ll be 20 soon and I long for my 15 year old days. Yeah, it’s that awkward stage in everyone’s life but I honestly loved it. Realizing it’s time to let go, though, and move on with my life. Time to grow but still have fun and not take family and other things for granted.

  7. I love this article. :)

  8. Great article, except I’m not sure it’s entirely a given that every woman will someday become a mother…

  9. This article was very sweet! Thank you for sharing your life experience :)

  10. That line about spend time with your mom is right on. My mom passed when I was 17, I definitely did not think that would happen when I was 15…. <3

  11. Oh my goodness, I am totally crying over the “Spend time with your mom” line Danielle! Must be because I have TWO daughters now and I completely remember the stage when I, shall we say, did not care for my mom…not looking forward to it from the flip side.

  12. Oh my goodness, I am totally crying over the “Spend time with your mom” line Danielle! Must be because I have TWO daughters now and I completely remember the stage when I, shall we say, did not care for my mom…not looking forward to it from the flip side.

    Anonymous | 10/26/2011 08:10 pm
  13. Not a huge Swift fan (not really at all, but hey, I did catch her show to see NEEDTOBREATHE)… but, this post is amazing. Thank you for sharing!!

  14. I am 27 and living abroad (I’m in London, family is in Portugal) , so I absolutely understand what you mean about being nice to your father and spending time with your mother. There are so many things I wanted to tell my 15 year old self that are similar to what you say! I’m glad to know I’m not alone in thinking this :) going to listen to that song now. Thank you for sharing that :)

  15. Thank you for writing this! I found myself getting the chills reading these. I’m 23, and while a lot of these things I’ve learned, so many of the lessons I’ve learned have not yet stuck. Thanks for reminding me to “SLOW DOWN”. I needed that.

  16. I would probably say ”stop thinking about what other people think of you, it’s not as bad as you think, be yourself’…and stop being so shy!”

  17. Taylor is such an inspiration to me. I’m from Argentina, and I moved out of my house to live in the “big city” a few months ago. In one of my first rides after coming back home for the weekend, I was listening to Taylor’s album and when “Never Grow Up” started playing, I felt incredibly related to the lyrics, it touched me deeply and I started to cry thinking about how much my family’s worth and how I not appreciate it fully sometimes.
    I’d tell my 15-self to never stop shining, never stop dreaming, and finally “don’t get in that car. He’s the worst person you’ll ever meet.”

    Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room
    Memorize what it sounded like when your dad get’s home
    Remember the footsteps, remember the words said
    And all you’re little brothers favorite songs
    I just realized everything I had is someday gonna be gone

    So, here I am in my new apartment
    In a big city, they just dropped me off
    It’s so much colder than I thought it would be
    So, I tucked myself in and turned my night light on
    Wish I’d never grown up
    I wish I’d never grown up.

  18. Taylor Swift is great for life lessons sometimes. I’d tell myself that life isn’t always like it is in a small town, and also, that the small town isn’t all that bad. That my grandparents are great people and I should listen to them and their stories more, they have a whole lifetime of them to share. That I should keep trying to find my passions, and not be so scared. Also, to stick with my decisions, they may be hard along the road, but in the end, it will be worth it. Ooh me at 15, even just 4 years later, everything seems so different. these peaks and valleys seemed endless. The peaks and valleys still exist, but now they look a lot different.

    Love that you got to go to her concert, its such a magical experience. I saw her at two of her previous tours and shes so talented.

  19. Im 24 right now so what I would say to my 15 year old self: Hey, hey you with the gloomy face, dont look so sad. I know that every thing right now is a disaster and its chaotic, and you are calling this your ” Dark Ages” but trust me when I say that there is a silver lining, there will be a better tomorrow (its a cliche but its really really true) I promise you. First Accept who you are and trust me, your not fooling anyone, once you accepted your self, a great burden will be lift off your shoulder, and besides your not fooling anyone LOL. Keep Being curious, it will give you a greater perspective on life, keep exploring with all things good or bad because it will make you more appreciative in the future. Learn to play the acoustic guitar and learn it well, Stay really close with your family, trust me it will come in handy in the future. Being alone right now seems like a bad thing but once you turn 18 ( get that, 18 is your magic number) and out of High school, and yea thats one more thing, try to finish school, trust me when I say that . Ok well again once you turn 18 and your graduated from High school, everything will turn out just fine, actually better than fine, because your bad carma will turn and it will keep of turning to good as you reach your 20′s.

    thats what I would tell my 15 year old self~

  20. to put it simply, i would tell my 15 year old self that things are not always as bad as they seem. life is way too short to sweat the small stuff. talk to people (i was a very shy, introverted teenager, prone to bouts of depression). so many more things come to mind, but let’s be honest, at 15, we wouldn’t listen to a 34 year old (my current age) anyways. :) how i was back then shaped who i am today, and i can’t complain too much about my life right now.