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As you complete your first year of middle school, I have a few things I’d like you to know:

Not everyone will get you. Be patient. You will continue to find your people.

Even if you aren’t a natural athlete, grit will be the characteristic that separates you.

When you run, you have an angel on your shoulder.

Friends aren’t meant to be collected. Good ones last a lifetime.

Wear deodorant.

Girls. It’s OK for them to be “just friends” because you are too young for romance, anyway. The good ones will secretly like your shyness.

Humility is hard. But, important.

Be Confident. It’s not cocky to embrace your strengths.

Talking is better than texting.

Teenagers are weird. And you are almost one of them. It’s OK. It’ll pass.

RELATED: Suddenly My Son Is a Teenager and I Wasn’t Ready For How That Makes Me Feel

Politely ask people to speak up.

Calling an adult “Sir” or “Ma’am” shows respect. And also points out you are not from around here. Military kids are unique in that way; be quiet during the National Anthem, face the flag, and take off your hat.

Brush your teeth.

You can mix plaids and stripes. If you go there, though, you gotta own it.

Bed-head can be a style. (But shouldn’t be.)

Find the kid who is eating alone and sit with them.

Looking people in the eyes will get easier with practice.

Dance.

Laughing at yourself is endearing, but being self-deprecating is not.

Own your mistakes. Learn and grow from them. We’ve all made them.

RELATED: 7 Things Your Middle School Daughter Needs To Hear From You

Forgive.

Always pat a teammate on the back when they put their chin down.

Chew with your mouth closed. Yes, ketchup does taste good on almost everything, but it’s messy, so use a napkin.

PE clothes should be washed more than once a week. They smell. Then you smell, and NO one likes a smelly kid.

Trust God has a great and bold plan for you.

Be you. Trying to be cool is totally uncool. Square pegs end up changing the world.

Kindness is golden.

Hold doors. Say please and thank you. Try using “You’re welcome” instead of “No problem” because serving others isn’t a chore. Develop a firm handshake but not too firm and certainly not limp.

Pray.

When you feel down, turn your gaze up.

RELATED: Dear Middle School Girls, Make Your Mistakes But Remember Who the Real You is

Read. Draw. Listen to music. Play outside. Devices make you kind of boring. Look up. Unplug. Be still.

In closing, my beautiful Battle, know you were designed perfectly imperfect. You will make mistakes. Do and say dumb things. Have some regrets. But, you will also overcome. Persevere. And we will be here to guide you, support you, and love you.

I pray someday you look back on these years and see the greatness we see.

Love,

Mom

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Valli Vida Gideons

I am a military bride, who writes about raising kids with cochlear implants, military life, and other things from the heart. Unrelated but not irrelevant... I have a degree in journalism and wrote my first short story in second grade about a walking/talking sponge; I've been an exercise instructor since my teen years (Flashdance sweatshirts, leg warmers and vinyl records to prove it); and may have been an extra on the vintage 90's hit, Beverly Hills 90210 (proof still found on VHS tapes). I got hypothermia in my first marathon at mile 25.5, but went on to kick butt the next six times I toed the line; I use to cut hair on Melrose Ave. in another life; and I am still besties with my two closest pals from elementary school, who encouraged me to share my story. This is my journey. I hope it provides a sliver of inspiration for anyone who is entering or in the midst of a fog. Follow my journey on Facebook and my blog!

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