As a parent of an three adult children, I've lost count of how many times over the years I told them that if they could "just be yourself everyone will like you." Honestly, I'm not sure any of them ever followed my advice and I am pretty damn sure looking back on my own teen years, I didn't.
I don't beat myself up about it too much. It seems I turned out ok, and my kids all seem to be doing pretty well too. And, let's face it, the teen years makes it hard to like yourself. You are sure you are too tall, too thin, fat, funny, boring, lame or otherwise to be worth anyone's while. We spend a lot of time envying those kids that seem confident, assured, and somehow know what they want and how to get it. The rest of the time we spend trying to blend in.
So when my 15 year old niece decided to visit me for a few days, I figured I knew what to expect. After all, I've spent some time with a few 15 year olds in my day and I survived. To be prepared, I made careful plans for the time, and worried that she might be bored, I strategically filled every waking moment with grandiose and jaw dropping excitement.
What I got was something I definitely didn't expect. Standing in front of me was that kid; the kid; that elusive, rare 15 year old high school legend; the living breathing, standing in my kitchen "just be yourself and everyone will like you" kid. The one who knows herself, is comfortable in her own skin and owns who she is. She does it effortlessly. So much so, that when she reads this, she'll think her aunt is just plain crazier than she originally thought.
She gets straight A's, she makes the really hard to get onto soccer team and plays goalie. She has the most unbelievable mane of hair in that perfect dirty blonde color that I've ever seen. She has exquisitely placed freckles, is tall and lean and strong. She's quiet, but not passive, has an opinion, but not aggressively so. She is kind and smart and downright hilarious. Luckily she's inherited the family sarcasm.
At least so far, she seems to like her parents and her younger sister and she loves to spend time with her grandparents. She will play cards for hours with Nan, and as if she were a direct spawn of her Pop, she will happily spend hours in the river with him fly fishing. She chooses to go to soccer camps and fly fishing summits in Montana. She rides horses, reads voraciously, snapchats and instagrams. She's a typical 15 year old girls and yet is just so not.
I am jealous of her for her self confidence, her willingness to be herself and to let other decide how they feel about who she is. She is a leader and as my daughter says, "every college admissions counselor's dream." I can't wait to see where life takes her, and now whenever I need to tell someone; grandchildren perhaps, to "just be yourself and everyone will like you," I have a real living, breathing model to show them.
Here's to her!
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