I often help women who struggle with dating in their thirties, women who need help with self-esteem issues and emotional baggage. But in an ideal world, these women wouldn't have self-esteem issues to begin with.
It's ambitious, but if we could teach tweens and teens to have the best relationship with themselves and foster great relationships with others, I believe they wouldn't struggle as much in later years.
If I have a daughter, I'll make sure she knows the following:
Look up from your phone. If you're constantly glued to it, you're going to miss the important stuff in the present. Pictures can capture a moment, but a great memory will last a lifetime. When you're hanging out with friends or a boyfriend, make them the priority. The phone, Facebook and Snapchat will always be there later.
Social Media is Not Real
Pretty pictures on social media may be great #inspo, but those pictures are a reflection of the best part of someone else's life. And even then, those people in the pictures probably took 40 of them just to get that perfect shot.
This one doesn't just apply to young women, it applies to everyone. I recently worked with someone who blatantly used her looks to pass her probation, flirting her way through performance meetings with senior management. Not only did I not respect her work ethic, I also lost respect for her as a person. Have people remember you for your intelligence and your wit -- those only get better with age.
What People Say About You is Never About You
There was a time when I let other people's thoughts or criticisms upset me. It wasn't until I got to my thirties that I realised what people say about you is never about you. In fact, what people say about other people is often a reflection of themselves. As Taylor Swift said in her recent concert: "You are not the opinion of someone who doesn't know you."
You Don't Have to Do What Everyone Else Does
I majored in English at uni, but if I had gotten the grades to go into medicine or commerce, I would have majored in either -- just because that is what every 'smart' person did. I wish I learned this in my late teens and studied Journalism. Had I known a university degree would just be a piece of paper, I would have pursued a degree I genuinely loved.
There is Plenty of Time to Fall in Love, So Don't Forget to Fall in Love With Yourself First
When you're 16 or 17 and all your friends have a boyfriend, it's easy to want to rush out and get one too. I wish I knew that I would have so much time later on to do that. Your relationship with yourself should always be a priority. You show others how you want to be treated by the way you treat yourself.
When a Boy Genuinely Likes You, He Will Make an Effort
You won't have to compromise your values or second guess his intentions. He won't intentionally make you feel insecure or bad about yourself.
I was at Taylor Swift's concert a few months ago and just before her song 'Clean', she gave a speech that made me think of how important it is for young women to have healthy role models to look up to. I'm not talking about pop stars, but the teachers, mothers, sisters in their lives - someone who'd constantly remind them of the following:
"When you have bad days that just won't let up, I just hope that you will look in the mirror and remind yourself of what you are and what you are not.
You are not your mistakes.
You are not damaged goods or money from your failed explorations.
You are not the opinion of someone who doesn't know you.
You are a product of the lessons that you've learned.
You are wiser because you went through something terrible.
And you are the person who survived a bunch of rainstorms and kept walking.
I now believe that pain makes you stronger. And now I believe that walking through a lot of rainstorms gets you... Clean."
- Taylor Swift, The 1989 World Tour in Tokyo, Japan.