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What would you tell your 13-year-old self if given the chance?

Hindsight is 20/20, or so they say. And we know that for many, the teen years can be fraught with challenges, emotional peaks and valleys and so much inner turmoil. So of course we had to ask our favorite Raging Feminists what they would say to their young teen selves if given the chance. The answers are all over the place, but each is heart-clenchingly honest.

What do you wish you could tell your 13-year-old self?

To my 13-year-old self: Get outside your comfort zone, and take risks on people. Sure, you’re in for some heartbreak, but you’ll be in such a better, happier place when you stop being afraid of human connection. Everyone doesn’t leave. You will find people who love you. Now go hug your mom, and tell her you love her a lot. You’ll get it soon.” — Rachael Berkey

What happened to you was not your fault, and it never should have happened. But it did happen — as much as people whose job it is to keep you safe would like to convince you otherwise. You deserved better then, and you deserve better now.

And one more thing: You are not worthless.” — Amber Garrett

More: What does being ‘ladylike’ mean when you’re a feminist?

You don’t have to keep all of this inside. If you don’t want to talk to your parents (and let’s be honest, they’re the reason you’re here, so talking to them might not be your first choice), call an aunt. Tell her about all of the ways racism presses in on you every damn day. How those boys call you a racial slur every day. How the teachers expect you to “know your place” but you were taught that your place is wherever you want it to be. How your speech marks you as an outsider. How your previous education sets you apart. How your light brown skin and reddish hair make you a curiosity. How all of this is thrown at you every day to remind you that you are ‘different.’ Let someone know.

Alabama is just a stop on the road for you. There is more out there for you.

And if you get a chance to do something exciting years from now but the boy you’re dating says he doesn’t want you to do it? Do the thing. Forget that boy.” — Jacqueline Bryant Campbell

You will still be hopelessly enamored with Oasis’ music, and one day you will meet Noel Gallagher and somehow manage to be a normal human while talking to him. (Try not to die of happiness right now so that you may live long enough to do this.) Unfortunately you will not ask him anything particularly interesting. Your love for Gavin Rossdale from Bush will wane a bit, but mostly because all the music he puts out after 2001 will be… not good. Even to your indulgent ears.

But most of all, you should know that many of the friends you have today will still be around, and you will still love each other with a fierceness as though they are family. Those stories you’re writing for them? They get better. You write that book. You are, for the most part, happy, even though you came back to this city that you thought you would leave for bigger and better things. You brought bigger and better things back, and it’s going to be magnificent.” — Sara Habein

One day your hair will be the LEAST of your problems.” — Minda Honey

Each boy who tells you you’re somehow wrong (too loud, too opinionated, too whatever) is a bullet dodged — no matter how perfectly his hair flips above his eyes. You will know this in the future when you scroll social media and see how they live now and compare it to how you live (and thrive!) now.” — Ki Russell

Have way more sex before you get married.” — Lily Tsui

More: Every cute thing my children said or did, I exploited for my blog

It’s going to get a lot harder before it gets better, but you are stronger than you can ever imagine. The people who have hurt you were wrong, you were only a little girl and deserved better. You will make things better, but first you have to get out of the fire that surrounds you now. No one will save you — you will save yourself. You saved us and made us the strong woman we became. You did that in spite of all your pain and loneliness. You will change the world for yourself and for other people. Be strong, little girl, there is a light at the top of this tall mountain, and it is you.” — Amanda Adams

13-year-old me was wracked with undiagnosed mental disorders, so I would tell her that she was not crazy, she was sick, and to shout it from the rooftops that she deserved help. I wasn’t able to do that until I was in my 30s and irreparable damage had been done.” — Danielle Vintschger

Stop taking yourself so seriously. How you see yourself is not how others see you. You’ll come to realize this eventually and know that you slay. In the meantime, chill out and enjoy the dance. Others may be watching, and will even laugh at you and put you down. But who cares? Dance because it feels good to dance.” — Jill Di Donato

Write. Write. Write. Your imaginary friends will save you. Listen to the voice that speaks when your brain is quiet. Do not listen to anyone else. Keep going.” — Chanel Dubofsky

You are perfect the way you are. Right now. Love yourself. Have fun.” — Veronica Arreola

Even though you share a small bedroom, be nice to your sister. Appreciate her eccentricities, and listen to her advice. Remember everything you share. She will leave you too soon in life.” — Meg Galipault

You deserve to feel safe, loved and valued. The negative environment you’re in does not define you, your worth or your abilities. You are the strongest person you’ve ever met, and the things you faced will help shape the ways in which you empathize and help other people. You don’t know it yet, but you will grow up to be the very person you need in your life right now. And you will be that person for so many other young people.” — Natasha Vianna

More: Feminists share the worst pickup lines they’ve ever heard

1. You survive.

2. It’s worth it.

3. You’ll soon feel the impulse to get bangs. Don’t do it.” — Jenny Jaffe

Before you go, check out our slideshow below:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg coloring book
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

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