dear Bridget: be okay with you

Dear Bridget,

You may not think so now, but it’s kind of a cool thing to be in the process of growing up.

The older you get, the more you grow to know and understand yourself. You get to encourage the traits you like, reshape the ones you don’t. You can look at people you admire and emulate the positive traits you see in them.

You’re shaping yourself. You’re becoming something, choosing what kind of adult you want to be.

It’s healthy to grow and adapt. But although adapting is positive, there are some traits that are central to who you are. And if you learn nothing else, learn to be okay with you.

If you’re emotional, learn to manage your emotions, but don’t shut them down because you’re afraid of being judged. If you’re reserved, don’t force an emotional reaction to make other people feel better. If you’re creative, direct your creativity, but don’t stifle it in order to fit in. If you’re cautious, don’t force yourself to make rash decisions. If you’re impulsive, don’t drown yourself in detailed, pro-con lists.

Be you.

It’s one thing to manage yourself and your life, to encourage yourself to grow as a human being. It’s quite another to force yourself into a mold not meant for you.

Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference. But you’ll learn. You’ll learn when you realize you’re exhausted from trying to be something. If it exhausts you, drains the life out of you, you’re probably forcing something. When you embrace an aspect of yourself, a trait that defines you, you’ll come alive.

I won’t lie, Bridget. Being okay with yourself is a process. A long one. One you’ll probably be dealing with your whole life. But it starts with giving yourself permission to be you. Permission to be outgoing or shy, logical or creative, emotional or reserved. Let go of the “I should be more ___” and embrace those traits that are most central to your personality, most natural to you.

I’m not suggesting you should never improve yourself. Obviously not. Strive for a better version of yourself. But don’t strive to be someone else. That’s a path straight to disappointment and frustration.

When you give yourself permission to be you, you learn to accept yourself. And you show other people how to accept you too.

Be you, a person no one else can be. Be you, Bridget, and others will be encouraged to follow your lead.

Love,

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What’s Dear Bridget all about? It’s a series of letters to a hypothetical teen girl named Bridget. Why Bridget? It means strong. And it represents the current generation of young women. These letters are my attempt to break through the chaos and the crap that’s flying at today’s young woman in order to offer advice and encouragement, from me and other incredible women who remember what it was like to be in her shoes.

If you’re a teen girl and you’ve got a question or issue you’d like us to address, let me know. Just click on the contact button (that round envelope icon at the top of the sidebar) and send me your thoughts. If you’re an awesome adult woman who remembers those teen years clearly and would like to write to Bridget, feel free to contact me and tell me about yourself.