It's not always easy being a kid. So many things can make us feel insecure, or have us stray from who we really are. Maybe it's the parent who tells you boys shouldn't wear skirts, the dance teacher who says you don't have the body to be a ballerina, or the kids at school who make fun of your skin colour, your height, your weight, your curly hair, your straight hair.
As adults, we know that things do get better. Eventually, you grow to be comfortable in your own skin and embrace who you really are. But as a young child facing bullies, insecurities and assumptions about what's acceptable or not, sometimes it can be hard to see past it all.
We asked some notable Canadians to share the advice they would give their younger selves. From embracing an eccentric sense of style to being comfortable in one's own skin, read on for their inspirational words.
How would you guide a younger you if you could go back in time? Let us know in the comments below.
Emma McIntyre via Getty Images
"Dear 10-year-old, baby girl Lights:
You are currently wearing a bucket hat and parachute pants with as many pockets as physically possible, while a vast collection of Lip Smackers, pocket knives and Beanie Babies are clipped to your belt loops. You have NO idea what’s fashionable in your era and that makes you invincible. Other kids look at you funny, but you know what you like and you revel in it (It’s literally hanging on your hips as we speak). So my fashion advice to you is, 'Don’t change, just do you, girl.'"
Saty & Pratha
"I would tell myself: It hurts that they keep making fun of my looks and my voice, but it's OK, because I love me and I'm going to show them that I can do and be whatever I want with or without them. So I will not perm my hair, Mom, I will wear my afro that I love, I will wear the colourful clothes I love, I will talk as loud as I want so they can hear me coming, and I will become a big model and actor one day."
Courtesy Joe Mimran
"Whether you are a boy or girl, be kind to those around you, respect their differences, stay active, be curious, cultivate your interests, learn an instrument, try and do one good deed a day, be proud of who you are and your heritage, never give up."
Courtesy Chloe Wilde
"Hi, little Wilde! Let your personality shine with every aspect of your life – with the way you talk, act and the way you dress. Have fun with your outfits and remember that there’s only ONE you, so don’t feel like you have to dress like everyone else. Here’s a little tip if you’re having a sad day: wear something that makes you happy – maybe it’s a bright coloured shirt, or some funky socks! – Older Wilde"
"I would tell my 10 year-old self to stand up for myself. It might be difficult in the moment, but you’ll thank yourself later."
"By the time you have the chance to recognize how powerful and invigorating your youth is, you will long be in the depths of adulthood. And so savour it, experience it, live it. Oh and make sure to wear a hat." - Kirk Pickersgill.
"You will surely, albeit gradually feel better in your own skin and gain more confidence in yourself than you ever thought would happen. All that doubt in yourself is silly. You are more on track than you realize." - Stephen Wong.
Courtesy Cailli and Sam Beckerman
"I would tell myself not to worry about finding myself. It will happen. Being different is good. Happiness and love will always surround me and not to worry about being bullied." - Cailli Beckerman.
"Being different is what makes you unique and special." - Sam Beckerman.
Courtesy Jenny Bird
"You will often be told to 'follow your heart,' but it will be hard to know how to, since you’ll wonder, 'How do I hear it; what does it sound like or feel like?' It is your inner spirit you must listen to, your true self. It will vibrate and cause you to experience feelings that can be listened to. Like the feelings of being comfortable when things are right for you, and uncomfortable when things are wrong. If you stop when you feel joy and happiness to recognize your state of being, you will feel a warmth deep within yourself. You may also experience a feeling of fear. This is your inner spirit. In all relationships, activities and work, go towards the warmth, steer clear of the uncomfortable and face the fear. Sometimes it will be hard, but you will find your bliss. Then shine on!
"Then I would pass along to myself my favourite quote from Marianne Williamson, "Our Deepest Fear":
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Young Minds Matter is a new series designed to lead the conversation with children about mental and emotional health, so youngsters feel loved, valued and understood. Launched with Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge, as guest editor, we will discuss problems, causes and most importantly solutions to the stigma surrounding the mental health crisis among children.
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