So, *surprise* today is my 21st birthday. Whenever I turn a new age, I always sit and think about what I was like on my other birthdays. I remember my 12th birthday when all of my friends forgot and I laugh about how I honestly thought it was the end of the world and how devastated I was. Last year, my 20th birthday, I would have never thought my life would be where I am at (in the best way). But now, my 16th birthday is officially 5 years ago which is so weird to me.
16 for everyone is kind of the launching pad to adulthood. You get to drive, you become an upperclassman, and you basically think you’re the coolest human alive. Now that feeling was five years ago and I am sitting here thinking “wait was I supposed to be an adult by now?” For me, 16 was a year of personal pity and reaching for goals that I shouldn’t have been aiming for. I wanted to act professionally and was accepted into Governor’s School for the Arts in drama. At that time, it was my passion, the one thing to keep me from “slipping into the dark” (dramatic, right?).
16 was the year I was the nastiest to myself. I beat myself up day after day for my appearance, personality, and talents. I was my own personal bully. There are so many days I want to go back in time, lift up my head and tell myself the things I am about to share with you. Whether you are 16 yourself or already in retirement, it’s always important to remind yourself of these things.
You don’t have to be famous to make a difference.
This was a HUGE deal for me. Fame, fame, fame, and more fame was all I ever wanted. If you’ve ever watched Glee, the inside of my head was a lot like the character of Rachel Berry. I knew I was talented and I was dying for the world to see it. I was writing my Oscar acceptance speech every time I took a shower. It honestly wasn’t until I graduated high school and took on leading a small group of middle school girls that I realized how wrong I had been. I remember watching them cry out to God, worshipping with all they have and thinking “how lucky am I to be entrusted the honor of being their small group leader?”
You don’t have to be an amazing speaker, singer, actress, or be a millionaire to change the world. Being kind to those around you and being a Godly leader is how you really make a difference. Sure, no one may know your name. But a hundred people know that person you took time to mentor and love on and a thousand may know the person they chose to mentor and love in the same way you did with them. It’s not about fame. It’s about the small little imprints you leave on someone’s life each and every day.
Trust me, someone will love you.
So I’m gonna be real. At 16, I had never been kissed, never had a boyfriend, and had never had a straight guy interested in me longer than a month. Yet everyone around me was in a relationship and kissing each other. I’m not joking. When I went to Governor’s School for the Arts, everyone kissed everyone, except for me. I just felt so dumb, ugly, and stupid. 5 years later I have been in two long-term relationships and I am now lucky enough to understand what it feels like to be in an adult, loving, and healthy relationship.
16-year-olds should not be dating. Period. In my personal opinion, any relationship begun before college is slightly pointless and just leads to unnecessary heartbreak. Trust me, 16-year-old Brie, one day someone will love you more than you ever felt you deserved. Love is a lot harder and a whole lot more to handle than they pretend it is on TV. Your prince is coming, so be true (and kind!!) to yourself and just work on you and your relationship with God. When the time is right, he’ll be there making dinosaur noises and calling you an old lady.
I am lucky to have found someone as amazing as Jon so young. But for those of you out there my age or older who haven’t been in relationships, that’s a good thing. God is making a man of all men for you (or a woman for all you guys). Work on yourself, love yourself, love God. Someone will love you more than you ever thought possible.
You are beautiful.
I gained a little bit of weight my sophomore year in high school and I was devastated. I was so, so mean to myself. I still to this day struggle with that inner hate. We hear this all the time, but it is so true. The way you look right now will change in a year. Love the body you are in and embrace it with full confidence. Sure, my hair may have been stringy and damaged, but it grew out and became healthy. All it needed was a little time. I was 16 and barely done growing and had NO ACNE, PEOPLE. Love the body you are in right now because it will continue to change and grow to fit the season you are in. You are beautiful today just as you were five years ago and will be five years from now.
Don’t let people change your “weird.”
I was mega-bullied in my underclassmen years in high school for how I dressed. A girl literally said she hated me because of how I dressed. I wore Oxfords and button-up denim shirts and colorful jeans in 2013, not exactly revolutionary. I was so upset that someone would go as far to say they hated me because of how I dressed. I loved how I dressed and I didn’t want someone to make me out to be an outcast because I tried to make myself look nice at school. Two years later I would be voted Best Dressed for my senior superlative. What girls said they “hated” about me later became what people loved. Who you are and how you express yourself is wonderful. Don’t hide it because some people may not understand it. I bought a beret in 2014 and never wore it because I was too scared people would think it was weird and now it is one of the hottest looks in 2018. How I dressed is how I expressed myself in high school. Who you are is not weird, who you are is revolutionary and uniquely wonderful.
You are not alone and this is not the end- it gets better.
As I said above, I was in a pretty dark place at 16. There were many times I thought about ending my life and many times I just couldn’t see how it was going to get any better. But here I am, five years later doing things I honestly could have never dreamed myself doing when I was 16. If you ever feel broken or like you can’t move on from the darkness around you, believe me, you can and you will. Life will not end for you today. It may be rocky and scary, it may honestly get worse for a little bit. But right now, you are exactly where you need to be and life gets better. I have been through a lot of crazy, weird, and sad things the past five years but that is one thing I can never forget: tomorrow is a new day and tomorrow will be a better day.
No matter how you are feeling today, I just wanted to encourage you all to not give up and to see things a little further in the future. At 16, I could barely see past high school graduation. But now, I have so much ahead of me and so much to look forward to. I am lucky I didn’t throw in the towel and give up. Don’t be discouraged about the current state of your life but know you are exactly where you need to be.
On another note, I wanted to say “thank you.” Without the support of each and every one of you reading this post, I would not be able to continue doing what I love. You all are the very best. Thank you for making my birthday so special, I feel so honored that I get to share my life with you all!!