It hasn't been very long since I was a child - I'm only 21-years-old. In many ways, I still consider myself to be partially a child. I certainly don't see myself as a full-fledged adult yet :) I think we're all still somewhat in a state of being a child - at least we should be. Many people shy away from this idea. We want to be bold and courageous and independent free thinking adults. I'm not saying that's bad - but there's something unique about children. Children are learning, and children are growing. I think we should all be in a state of learning and growing.
When I was a child, I was afraid to get in trouble. I was afraid of what others thought of me. I was shy. I was reserved. When I was a Daisy Scout in Kindergarten I didn't play the games with the other little girls, I sat at a table and colored with my friend.
It hasn't been until these last few years of college that I've learned how to change that view. I've learned to get out of my own way and simply be myself.
If I could go back and tell elementary school Carly something - I would tell her to speak up. I would tell her that your ideas matter, that you're smart, that you're able, and just because you prefer reading to playing tag, doesn't make you any less than anyone around you. Being the first to raise your hand in class and honestly enjoying school isn't a bad thing! At all! Just because you wear glasses, don't always match your clothes, and sometimes forget that it's important to brush your hair - doesn't mean that you are any less than anyone else around you. Just because you're not a Disney Princess - doesn't mean that you're not a princess to God.
I don't mean to say that I was a self-conscious, unhappy little girl. I wasn't. I was comfortable with myself, but I was also very aware that I wasn't like a lot of the other girls. I wasn't athletic. I wasn't popular. And those things probably weren't going to change. But maybe if I had that push of self-assurance - that everything that I am is okay, that there is nothing wrong with the way that I am, and that it's actually a Good thing that I'm not like every other girl. Maybe I would be different now.
Then there is middle school and every little thing is a big thing and the smallest things might be the end of the world entirely. A poorly planned outfit or a pimple could be complete and utter deal-breakers. Being friends with anyone of the opposite sex meant you were dating and was filled with awkward prying, gossip, and embarrassment.
If I could go back and tell middle school Carly something - I would tell her to not be afraid. I would tell her that you're not weird - you're you, what other people think about you shouldn't affect how you choose to live, that your interests and goals are awesome - and to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF because nothing is impossible. I would tell her to be bold and unafraid, because the weird waters of middle school don't last forever and you are perfect the way you are.
Come high school a girl may no longer seem like a child in the same way she was as a little elementary student - but she is. There are still challenges abound and lessons to be learned. The path of self-discovery is far from over, and the battle to deeply and truly love yourself is far from won.
If I could go back and tell high school Carly something - I would tell her to get out of her own way. I would tell her to cherish the friends that make her feel good, and forget the ones that don't. Because if they don't challenge you, if they don't encourage you, if they don't support you, if they don't love you, if they don't inspire you, they aren't it - and you can do better. I would tell her how amazing she is - that her heart is HUGE and that she should learn to use it. I would tell her that she can do anything, that none of her dreams are too big, and that she should shout them from the rooftops. I would tell her that she is perfect because she is God's, and anyone that doesn't see that or turns her away from that isn't it. I would tell her that the opinions of others DO.NOT.MATTER. What matters is God. That you love God. That you love others. That you love yourself. Because you are amazing.
These lessons came to me slowly since being at college. I can finally say that I've fully embraced who I am, that I whole-hardheartedly love myself, and I would change nothing about who I am. I can finally say that I don't care if someone doesn't like me for who I am - because there is no use trying to change to please somebody else. I've learned to not be afraid to say what I feel and express who I am. I've learned to not be afraid to dream big and follow God in every walk of my life. I thank God every day for the person that He has made me, and I constantly look for opportunities to spread His love. I tell all three of my beautiful ladies these lessons I've learned with the hope that they can learn them, and embrace them when they are still children.
And guess what - you can do that for a child too. Take a look at these kids that are waiting for your love and guidance. You can change one of their stories today.