Sisters are a blessing! From the fights over the smallest of things to laughing endlessly on the lamest of jokes, every moment I spend with my sister makes me grateful for having her by my side. An unending array of inside jokes, a common love for cheesy Bollywood movies and the constant nudges bind us together. The four-year age difference between me and my sister bridges when we sit together, exchange stories, bake cakes and make paintings. Despite her incessant attempts to act like the elder sister, she will remain the younger one. Although I cannot ignore the fact that she is growing up fast and I know what’s in store for her for the coming years.

The teenage years are a sudden shift in behaviour, surroundings and our own perspective. Mine, just like those of others, were marked with the best memories and the worst breakdowns. It’s the time we learn, unlearn and start looking at the world with a fresh outlook. Being on the brink of teenage, here is a list of stuff I want her to know, some things that would help her sail through these rollercoaster years.

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1] Love yourself: I have learned this after bashing myself numerous times. I am still learning, in fact. But I can vouch for the fact that it is self-love that can bring you peace and wholesomeness more than anything else in the world. On the days you feel you are too skinny or too short or can’t bear with that wavy hair, just look into the mirror and see yourself through those eyes of yours. You will find the kindest soul and you will learn how to embrace your flaws.

Let yourself be what your heart wants you to be. Wear the dresses you like, go to new places and do not let yourself be confined by this thought, ever.

2] Self-respect over everything: When you meet new people, especially older than you, you often stumble down on the ladder of self-respect. Never, ever let this happen. Respect yourself and learn to take a stand. You deserve to be treated well and do not let anyone make you feel otherwise.

3] There’s no such thing as ‘log kya kahenge’: The people around you would try to condition you, lay down terms often just because you are a girl. Just flush these terms down the drain. Let yourself be what your heart wants you to be. Wear the dresses you like, go to new places and do not let yourself be confined by this thought, ever.

4] Voice your opinion: Stand up and learn to raise your voice whenever you feel the need for it. If there’s something you are facing or something you see is going wrong, don’t just stay as a spectator. Your weapon against anything you find wrong is your opinion about it. Don’t let your voice die down, ever.

5] Mental health issues are real: You will cry yourself to sleep some nights and will be anxious for the littlest of things. It’s real. If you go through a feeling that you can’t describe, don’t hesitate in seeking guidance. I’m all ears whenever you need me. Do not let anybody trivialize your problems. It goes the other way round too – stand by friends who are going through mental health issues, be there to wipe their tears!

6] Be kind: Out of all things you can be, be kind. Kindness is honestly, the trump card. Nurture your heart to be compassionate towards fellow humans, animals and the world. Things might not always turn out in the best possible manner but you will know deep down, that you steered through it all with kindness.

7] Toxic friendships exist: I know it’s hard making friends and you do not always click with people in the first meeting as they show in the movies. But do not stay friends with someone just for the sake of it. You will find better friends, who will treat you better and those who will respect your opinion even when it is not the same as theirs. Find the Aditi to your Naina instead of settling with those who disrupt your mental peace.

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8] Never settle for less: Always know what you deserve and never settle for anything less than that. Never let your fears kill your dreams, desires and goals. Walk the extra mile if you have to but do not resort to excuses when it comes to reaching the finish line.

9] Live in the moment: Enjoy where you are. This moment you are in, the people you are with, everything is good only if you perceive it to be. All of us grapple with that sudden feeling of a vacuum but try to live to your fullest in this very instant.

10] Learn to say no: At one point, all your friends might be doing stuff that you do not relate to, that you don’t approve on morals grounds. When expected to do the same, say no to it, as simple as that. Better walk alone than taking a road that you know has bumps on it. Saya clear “no” when you don’t like how someone is behaving with you.

11] Study but don’t let the grades affect you: The mark sheet definitely does not matter but your knowledge does. I know that what the books have to offer might seem unimportant but believe me, we are privileged to hold them in our hands. Educate yourself not because the scores matter but because it will brace you to face the world. How will you question things if you don’t know about them?

You will find better friends, who will treat you better and those who will respect your opinion even when it is not the same as theirs.

12] Don’t judge anybody: I know that the society we live in makes us look at others with eyes that judge. But refrain from doing it. Just know that every human being is beautiful in their own way. Take off those judgemental lenses and like the people around you for who they are.

13] Don’t search for “the one” in every guy: Believe me, you’ll meet the best of guys and some will make you go all crazy. You will have crushes just like I did and do too, but just calm your nerves down! Never get dependent or so attached to a guy as to leave your girl gang. “The one” will definitely come, but try not to search for him in everyone.

14] Respect your body: Your body is beautiful as it is. You do not need bigger boobs or a slimmer waist. Nourish it and treat it with love. More importantly, with respect. Nobody is worth having access to your body via text messages. Do not ever end up doing something to your body that you will regret the rest of your life.

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15] Don’t fall for validation: Friends, guys and girls, will praise you and may even deprive you of the true sense of who you are. So it’s better to not fall for validation. You are the only one who knows yourself the best, and that knowledge is what will make you become the version of yourself you had aspired to be.

16] Take your time: It’s okay if you don’t know what to pursue or how to get over something. Take as much time as you feel like. We’re not running a race of who would be successful first, so stop comparing your pace at doing things with that of others.

17] Accept your faults: As much tempting as it might seem to simply point finger at someone else, do not. Learn to own up to what you’ve done. You will have to face the repercussions of your actions at some point and make yourself prepared for it beforehand.

18] Take out time for yourself: Often with the assignments piling up and a million things on the plate, you might not get time for yourself. But cut yourself some slack, and go sit out in the sun with that freaky playlist of yours. It’s utterly important for you to have some me-time as it fuels you mentally.

Your body is beautiful as it is. You do not need bigger boobs or a slimmer waist. Nourish it and treat it with love. More importantly, with respect.

19] Make your own decisions: More important than making your decisions is how you make them. People might try to sway you into believing what they do, they’ll offer you advice but choose your own path so that you do not have to blame others on who you turn out to be. Do as Jab We Met’s Geet does!

20] Do not abandon what you love: If that paintbrush relieves you of all the stress then do not ever lose the grip on it! Your hobbies and passion will feed your soul and will become a way of being.

Also Read: Five Life Lessons That My College Friends Taught Me

21] It’s not the end: As much as that heartbreak, friendship breakup or an exam failure might make you feel, the world around you is not collapsing. Things will go uphill too so just wait until they do. Do cry if you wish to but please don’t give up. If you feel like dropping your bundle, just think of so many faces that light up merely because of your existence, think of all the smiles you bring in through your lame jokes and keep walking.

Saavriti is an intern at SheThePeople.TV.

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