dear Bridget: the respect

Dear Bridget,

At this point in your life, you’ve no doubt heard a lot of lectures about authority. About how you should respect authority figures. And you’ve got a lot of those–teachers, parents, friends’ parents, etc. But as you get older, those authority figures will become fewer and fewer.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be plenty of people who will attempt to be authorities. But here’s a secret: once you’re an adult, you get to have more control over who’s an authority in your life.

In general, people will be an authority for one of two reasons. One, their position requires it (boss, law enforcement officials, etc.). And two, you give it to them (friends, mentors, and once you’re an adult, your parents).

But others will try to insert themselves into your life as an authority. (Just in case you were wondering… my letters are not an attempt to be an authority. I just want to be a helpful big sister who provides an inside look at life as an adult, along with a little encouragement. Consider me your confidential informant.)

People will always have opinions on your choices, Bridget. And some of them will state their opinions loudly, trying to set themselves up as people who have the right to admonish you for your decisions.

But they only have the authority you give them. Strong opinions and a loud voice do not an authority make, regardless of the credentials they claim.

As you become an adult, you’ll have more and more power over who you respect as an authority. Which is both easier and harder. Because the people you choose to respect will have a major influence on you. The people you choose to respect will reveal a lot about who you are and who you want to be.

Look for people you want to be like. Look for people who respect others the way you respect them. Look for those who actively invest in your life, instead of simply swooping in to voice an opinion.

Those are the people who will enrich your life, who will serve as lighthouses to guide you around the rocks.

The others are simply seagulls, squawking as they fly by and drop crap on you. (You’re welcome for that visual.) The seagulls can be loud, and they’re flying high, so it seems like they’ve got it together. But they’re just passing through, making noise on their way.

Look for the lighthouses, Bridget. They’re the people who have your best interests at heart. Make them authorities. Offer them your respect. Let the rest fly on by.

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.