My 13-year-old niece sent me an e-mail yesterday with this little gem: "I hate stuff right now." As the "grown up" in our relationship, I knew that I should be all "Now, you don't really 'hate' anything." But even as I thought it, I knew it was a lie. Instead, I ended up saying, "You know what? I hate stuff sometimes, too. Just don't let it get you down for too long. Being 13 sucks sometimes. It gets better. I promise."
I remember how I hated when I was a kid and an adult would tell me those were the best years of my life. Being 13 was not the best time of my life. It may have been easy in terms of not having a job or bills or debt. But it's such a weird awkward age -- especially, in my humble opinion, for girls. We deal with the crazy changes our bodies are going through, wondering if what we're experiencing is "normal" because even though our friends are going through it too, it's never quite the same for any of us. Am I too big, too small, too short, too tall? What is happening to my skin, my boobs, my hips, my body? Why do I feel like crying all the time and why the hell did I have to be a girl? Ok, maybe not everyone felt exactly like that, which is kind of my point. (I imagine there were girls out there who had all the answers and were sure of themselves and didn't worry about the changes they were going through. If so, they were the freaks, not me.)
At the time, I thought, "If this is the best time of my life, that means it goes downhill from here. Oh that sucks. I hate everything." So, my advice to my niece was to hang in there. Sure, there will be harder times in her life (as in all lives) but that doesn't diminish how hard it is to be a 13-year-old girl. I only hope she knows how amazing she is, how much I love her and that she can always come to me for advice -- even if the best advice I can give her is to grab some chocolate and ride it out.