I remember those years so well. I remember the emotion, the growing pains, the insecurities. Maybe that is why when I hear of teenage girls struggling with identity and body image and the hard transitions of the teenage years, my heart squeezes in my chest and I just want to hold them and whisper continuously in their ear, everything is going to be all right.

I was thinking about that today and pondering all I have learned in my adult years. It is incredible what a difference 15 years have made. If I could imprint these truths on every teenage girl, I would. Here are the 10 things I would tell them as they forge their way into this big, brutal, beautiful world. 

Be yourself.

Authenticity trumps cool every day of the week. I know that is hard to believe right now. But someday it will all make sense. For now just trust me on that one.

A woman’s beauty, true beauty, resides in her spirit.

This is why every size and shape and skin color and hair color can be beautiful. Feed your soul and your beauty will radiate and be irresistible. 

Your body is just a shell.

But it is also your vehicle while you are here in this world. Take good care of it, and it will take you everywhere you want to go.

Find things you think are interesting.

Spend as much time as possible doing those things.

Be kind to everyone, everywhere, always.

We are all fighting unseen battles. Your kindness has the power to transform another human’s whole world.

Life is brutal. It is also beautiful.

And this will be true all of your days. Dwell in the beauty, rest there, linger there. The beautiful will give you the strength to endure the brutal.

You do not owe anyone an apology for who you are.

Find your strengths, whatever they may be and cultivate them. You were made exactly as you were supposed to be. Be humble when you are unkind or unintentionally hurtful. But no apologies for being your brand of you.

Find a way to connect with your family.

Even if they mostly drive you crazy right now. Friends, classmates, neighbors come and go. If you guys move tomorrow, guess who you are still stuck with? Find common ground with your siblings. Nurture that ground.

Protect your heart and your body.

You deserve this and will not regret it. When you are ready, look for a partner who adores you. Do not settle for anything less.

And lastly, believe in abundance.

There is enough grace, enough love, enough hope, and purpose, and laughter, and adventure, and joy to last each of us a lifetime. Those things can seem elusive at times. Surround yourself with people who will help you rediscover them when they have become lost to you.

And please know, I am rooting for you. I believe in you, it doesn’t matter that I have never met you. I know, just because you are alive, that all the goodness and potential in this world dwells within you. Life feels so lonely sometimes. And we can do such a poor job of communicating how valuable and remarkable the people in our lives are. But there is hope. There is always, always hope. Hold tightly to hope. And never, ever give up your search for love and acceptance and purpose and joy. If it is already with you, bask in it and share it with everyone around you. If you are still searching, know that my hope and belief is strong enough for the both of us.

Breathe deep. 

Hold onto hope.

Know you are worthy. 

You are worth it.

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Protect your heart and your body. You deserve this and will not regret it.

Echo Vetter

I love books and trails and road trips. Writing has helped me heal a broken heart and reclaim the identity I lost to a long walk through postpartum depression. I have a deep and abiding appreciation for authenticity, simplicity and story. I am learning that life is best lived around the table and under a blanket of grace. I married my high school sweetheart when I was nineteen. Today we homeschool our four children in Nashville, TN.