Things I’d Like To Tell My 12-Year-Old Self: Observations From An Educator
Times have certainly changed since my elementary school days. Granted, it was not that long ago that I was furiously memorizing times tables and MLA works cited formats. However, today’s youth is experiencing something that I didn’t recognize until my adult years: extreme stress. This year, especially, I’ve found myself repeating stress-relieving mantras to our students on a daily basis. From tears over B grades to pressures at home, my current students are slowly breaking my heart with their ever-growing worries and concerns.
Yes, I worried as a child—we all did at some point. But my students this year have been talking candidly about debilitating, sleep-interrupting, all-encompassing anxiety and stress. I’ve seen children break down in sobs, asking questions like, “How can I be better?” What I want to tell them in these moments has nothing to do with literary elements or plot diagrams. I want to tell them the same things that I wish I could tell my 12-year-old self when I felt stressed or lost.
You will not be the best at everything.
…But you don’t have to be. You will find that you are amazing at something—maybe even a few things. These are your passions—follow them, nurture them, be proud of them.
You will make mistakes.
…But your mistakes are your greatest teachers. You will learn more from your mistakes than you will from your successes. So use this knowledge and know that you will learn from your errors.
Your parents are always proud of you.
…Even when you fail, stumble, and struggle.
It’s okay to disagree with your friends.
…They are not always right, and neither are you.
People are going to be mean.
…But pay them no mind—it’s not you, it’s them.
Apologize when you mess up.
…And forgive those who apologize to you. Remember that saying sorry and being sorry are two different things—know the difference.
Life is not fair.
…So do not expect it to be. There will always be people who have more than you.
The only thing that you can control is yourself.
…Do not frustrate yourself with things beyond your control.
…You are capable of much more than you’d imagine. Take chances—you will likely surprise yourself.
Everything will be okay.
…It might not seem like it right now, but you will get through these tough times. The struggles will only make you stronger, so don’t give up.