Advice I Would Give to my 13-Year-Old Self

Being thirteen was a long time ago — nine years ago, if we're counting. It's a little scary to think about, if I'm being honest. Although I'm a firm believer that I wouldn't be who I am today without everything I did and felt up to this point, I can't help but wonder how different my life would have been if I had known everything I know now, especially at thirteen.

Turning thirteen was such a big deal to me growing up. I remember writing about it in my old diary (I always tried to channel my inner Lizzie McGuire), mostly about how excited I was to be a teenager. To my disappointment, it turned out thirteen wasn't too far of a jump from twelve. But because I was still a huge drama queen back then, and a little more sensitive than I am now, here's some truths I wish I could've been hit with those nine years ago.

1. You know how after you embarrass yourself, people always tell you that one day you'll look back and laugh? I promise it's true.

Every single thing that happens at that age always seems to be the worst thing that could have happened to you. But it always blows over and you end up evolving in the process. I attribute my embarrassing moments to making me comfortable with being in front of people and for drastically raising my tolerance for humiliation. On that note: Middle school Cindy, I'm really sorry that you walked into TV production with your skirt tucked into your underwear. Also, thank you for that. Because since then, I've never left a bathroom without checking my skirt twice. Lesson learned.

2. Be more forgiving.

If anyone reading is as confrontational as I was as a kid, you know how easy it is to put your foot in your mouth. Friends argue about dumb things that may not seem like a big deal once everything dies down. It isn't worth burning any bridges or staying at home alone because your friends have decided to hang without you. I'm still learning how not to make decisions when I am angry, and man is it a process.

3. There are always going to be mean people, but they will help you grow.

Growing up, there was one thing that happened pretty often, regardless of where I went: whenever I would be mom and my sister, people would comment on the fact that I was larger than both of them, though I wasn't even by much. Sure, it really sucked, and I was insecure about my appearance right up until college.

I'm not going to say that those comments weren't hurtful, or that I didn't assume this was the reason that boys didn't like me back then. But I also know that it's one of the many reasons I now feel so strongly about self-love and being confident. You'll run into people who don't like you no matter how much you want them to, but over the years I have learned that sometimes, you need to accept this and move on to bigger and better things.

4. Be a good role model.

I was actually told this a lot. I always disregarded it because I found my little sister annoying, and I resented how often she followed me around. But you get closer to your siblings as you grow older, and suddenly that four-year age gap doesn't seem so large. Then, you end up wishing that you had been nicer to her when you were kids, because all she wanted was to come to your best friend's sleepover.

My sister still annoys the living daylights out of me, but I admire how decisive and headstrong she is. This might not apply to everyone, but I've found that you're never more comfortable around anyone else but your siblings – you've known them all your life, after all.

5. It does get better, but you'll also miss how things used to be.

Lots of things get more bearable with time – periods, your skin, your family, etc. You end up admiring yourself for powering through it when it was difficult. But every so often, you end up thinking back to nine years ago and how much simpler things were back then.

In middle school, I watched cartoons and wore Bermuda shorts. Everything that I thought was stressful back then doesn't seem like such a big deal now. Sometimes I wish my only worries were about what I was going to wear to the dance and how I was going to approach my crush in geometry.

While this might be a list of things I wish I had known growing up, some of these things are still relevant. Today isn't a reflection on the future, and there will always be things that I wish I had known. Life is about learning though, and I still have a lot of learning to do.