Dear Younger Me and all the Women Navigating Through Life Today

There is not one person I know who has not struggled with society's expectations of becoming a young woman. The preconceived notions in our heads at a young age of remaining classy yet strong, soft-spoken, but empowering, helpful and caring, yet individualistic and bold, are exhausting. All of the ideas that society, men, and history have molded us into today are conflicting and undermining mindsets that do not capture how powerful and unique women genuinely are. While navigating through my teens and early 20s, there were times I felt conflicted in who I wanted to be, times where I felt ashamed of who I was and what I looked like, times I felt on top of the word, and times where I looked back and realized I was just growing. The most important lessons I was taught, and even things I wish I would have learned at a younger age is something many women have in common. From my amazing support system to yours, here is a list that 10 of my friends, family, and I have put together that we think are the most powerful lessons for young women navigating through life. 

"Here's to strong women: may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them." – unknown

Do Not Allow Celebrities & Men to Pave Your Beauty Standards

Skincare morning routine Kevin Laminto If you look back over the last 20 years, women have been subjected through media to mold into society's ideas of beauty. In the 2000s, most social media sites pushed us to look slim, have thigh gaps, and resemble a Barbie. A decade later, it was all about having a big butt and an hourglass shape. Waist trainers and glute workouts flooded the media. Facial and body editing apps became popular and social media took us down a loophole of unrealistic expectations. Beauty standards and norms will always change and set a new standard. The sad truth is that many females feel the pressure to change their bodies and image as these trends come and go. Your body type is beautiful and one of a kind. It is not worth trying to look like everyone else for a trend at the expense of your own mental health. Your body should not be viewed as a walking display of perfection; it should be viewed for all that it does for you and how confident you can be in your own skin, nothing more. You are way more than a glance from strangers checking you out or attracting a significant other.

It's Okay To Be Confident and Show It

Woman smiling Matthew Hamilton Since when is it not okay for women to be confident and express that? Every female that I know has a slight bit of discomfort when receiving a compliment, whether it be a long pause, a deflection the compliment, or replying with something that seems like the compliment doesn't apply. Why do we constantly do this? Be confident and show it. The more confident you are, the happier you will be with yourself. There is nothing sexier than a confident woman. I'm not talking about being perfect; I'm talking about taking pride in the things about yourself that you are proud of and love the most. You are the main character in your story and should walk around knowing it. Be proud of who you are in your accomplishments and achievements. 

Real Deep Friendships Will Take You Further Than Anything Else

Keegan Acton and friend laughing Keegan Acton Real friendships will push you higher than anything else around you. If I could go back and tell myself one thing as a child, it would be that being popular or having a ton of friends does not even come close to having deep connections with a few girlfriends. The ones who truly know your heart, love you and want the best for you. Invest in your friendships. At the end of the day, when things are hard, your girls will always be the ones there for you. 

You are Yours Before Anyone Else

Maria Scheller-Wavy Hair Sunflower Field Dress Summer Brunette Maria Scheller / Her Campus I repeat you are yours before anyone else. Take the time to work on you. Own your story, know who you are, and grow by yourself. Do not let yourself think that someone else would like you a certain way or that you need someone. You need yourself. You need her and all of her beauty, heart, and intelligence. Get out of the mindset of what you can offer others and offer that to yourself first. Protect your energy for the sole purpose of working on yourself. There is nothing someone else can do for you that you are not capable of doing all on your own.

Self-Love is a Process

Sunset Ocean Beach Sky Evening Charlotte Reader / Her Campus You're going to grow, be awkward, not know who you are entirely, and make mistakes. Self-love is a journey and takes years to perfect. After all, we have all experienced that awkward middle school phase. Self-love is a journey, and as we get older, we begin to learn this. 

Comparing Women is Never Okay

Oval Brown Wooden Framed Hanging Mirror Nadine Wuchenauer / Pexels It's never okay to compare women, period. Why do we do this? Everyone is completely different. Wanting to be like someone else or degrading yourself by comparing women takes away your value. We each get one life to live and do whatever we please with it. Begin to work on yourself and be proud of other women and their achievements. The world needs more female empowerment, and when we compare women, all we do is tell men that it's okay to judge us and make ourselves feel less. We all have different goals, dreams, and ideas of what we want life to look like. I didn't understand this when I was younger, but everyone is working on themselves even if it seems like they have it all together. Every woman has insecurities, and no one is perfect. Look at other women you admire as an inspiration for your own story, not your competition. 

It's Okay to Grow at Your Own Pace and be Inexperienced

Photo of young brunette woman wearing a backpack and walking down a street alone shot from behind Photo by Karel Rakovsky from Picjumbo Never feel bad about what you are inexperienced with. You do not need to conform to society and feel uncomfortable to feel normal. Take your time and do things at your own pace. Whether it be college, sex, relationships, career goals, you name it. Taking life at your own pace is the beauty of why each individual is unique. 

Hopefully, some of my shared advice gives you some food for thought or a new perspective at looking deep into yourself. At the end of the day, not a single person is flawless or perfect because we are all human. All that matters today, tomorrow, and in the future is being the best version of yourself.