Teen years are… rough. And you know what? I’m not even swimming in that pool yet! My daughter is technically 12 and won’t officially become a teen for another 6 weeks or so. I’m holding onto every last day of her tween life. It’s all going too quickly for my taste. So, honestly, I’m not rushing a single thing. Not one second of one day.
But I’m no fool. I know that the tween years and the teen years are the roughest ones yet for young women. Girls are unsure of who they are, who they want to become, who they should be friends with, how they feel about their bodies… and more. Moms, we all know that some of that never really goes away, right? I have a post in me about my lifelong struggles with body dysmorphia. I’m just not ready to write it… but it’s brewing.
Anyway, I know my little girl is feeling all those feelings even though she might not be talking about them with me. I know because I was her 20+ years ago to date. I hated my skin. I hated my size. I hated that my mother wouldn’t buy me Gap clothing even though everyone else was wearing the brand. And then once I finally got her to buy me a striped t-shirt from the store, I hated that all my friends stepped up their game and switched to Polo. I was never on top of the trend. I was always playing catch up.
And so, I started to get quieter. I started to retract. I didn’t want to be seen because I didn’t think that what I had was worthy of being shown.
I blended in elementary and middle school. Never stood up against the crowd. Never made waves. I watched and pined for what wasn’t mine. I traveled inside the crowds and tried to mimic the sounds of their footsteps – attempting so hard to keep up.
Does this sound familiar to you? Am I awakening any feelings? 7th grade was hard for me. I remember it vividly.
Yesterday, my daughter came home and told me about a conversation she had with her bus driver. She told me that he asked her why she stopped singing on the bus.
I didn’t realize she stopped. Natalie sings all day long. Morning, noon, and night. Just this morning, we were belting out the Frozen musical over cereal. It’s what she does. It’s who she is. She is LOUD and CRAZY. She was born that way. A wild child to say the least. So, hearing that she “stopped” singing on the bus felt very much out of character.
I asked her to tell me how she responded.
Natalie said that she stopped because it annoyed some of the kids. They didn’t want to hear her sing. They found it irritating.
Full disclosure: hearing the same Dear Evan Hansen song for the 50th time in a row can be a tad bit irritating. So, I understood where they were coming from. But I was actually surprised that Natalie CARED. In all her life, she never cared what anyone thought. She just giggles at all of us if we beg her to not repeat a song AGAIN… and then she repeats it AGAIN. But on the school bus, it’s different. Those are her peers. Her friends. People the same age as her. Her classmates. They aren’t soft cushions for her to fall back on. They don’t love her like we do. So, yeah – I get it! It made her draw back and quiet down.
So, that’s what she told the bus driver. She told him that her singing annoyed some of the other kids. And do you know what he said?
“Don’t let anyone ever stop your show. Keep singing.”
I mean…. YES!
We need more of these men out there in the universe telling our children to do the things that they love. We need more adults out there in the universe teaching our children that it is ok to be who they want to be. We need more women out there in the universe encouraging children to go after their passions even though it is against the grain.
I literally held back all the tears as Natalie told me what that bus driver said. I told her that he was a great man and that she should sing for us at that very moment. And that’s what she did. She put on a big show for her entire family. And she’s been singing ever since.
I’m not saying that she is going to march onto the bus every morning belting a tune – because like I said – teen life is hard. BUT, Natalie received some sound advice that I hope she keeps with her for years to come.
Don’t let anyone stop your show. If I’m being honest with you, I needed to hear that advice myself. The last few months, I’ve been dealing with a personal disappointment that I am only now getting out from under. I think I wasted a lot of time letting other people steal my joy. I think I wasted a lot of time in 2018 worrying about what other people thought of me. I know who I am. I know what I am worth. And I am proud of it all. I want to teach these things to my daughter. That’s what I want her to see when she looks up to me. Someone who won’t let anyone stop her show.
The curtains are up. The lights are dimming. The mic is turned on and the party is about to begin, folks. I hope you are ready for the ride.