7 Things I Wish I Could Tell my 17-Year-Old Self

On my search for black female bloggers who are setting out to empower other women through transparency, realness, and advice I came across LaTisha and her blog Blushing Black. In particular, her blog “Twenty Things I Wish I Could Telly my 20-Year Old Self, and though I’m still young (23), I started thinking about a point in my life where I could’ve used some words of wisdom to keep me from experiencing a lot of heartache and disappointment.

First, I thought of 13 because that’s a tough age for a lot of girls and you start experiencing a lot of things with your mind and body. Then, my bonus sister, Cortni, thought of this catchy title, which automatically triggered thoughts about all of the things I wish I knew at that age and what I would want another young lady to hear. Even though I’m young, I definitely have some stories to tell and the scars to prove it, and I know there’s girls out there like me who’ve dealt with a lot before hitting their 20’s.

1. You’re beautiful. I know this is the most clíche thing to say, but no matter what it needs to be said, over and over again. It doesn’t matter how many times your mom or your friends tell you you look good none of it matters until YOU truly believe it. If I would’ve known the depths hidden within my skin, my smile, my hair, my body, etc. I wouldn’t have gone looking in all the wrong places for someone to tell me. Every chance you get tell yourself you’re beautiful and mean it, it may not feel like it at the moment, but it’ll go a long way and you won’t be looking for someone else to say it.

2. Keep these “men” at arm’s length. Now, this is not about to turn into a “men ain’t ish” session (I have two brothers and a boyfriend that I love – black men are EVERYTHING), butttt if I would’ve known how many scars the men I let close to me would’ve left…girl. At 17 I was starting my freshman year in college, so attracting the upperclassmen was my whole life and I wanted the attention that came with being on their radar. I met some great men in college that I’m friends with to this day, but if I could offer any advice it would be don’t make yourself easily accessible. Make great friends and live life for you, not for the attention of a man that doesn’t deserve it.

3. Stop comparing yourself to others. Like I said I was starting my freshman year of college, so I was being exposed to completely different types of girls than I was used to seeing at home. I was never the skinniest girl, I never had big boobs, and I was still struggling with my complexion, so seeing girls my age and older with great hair, beautiful skin, and amazing figures I quickly started to wish I looked like them so I could, yet again, get men’s attention. Self-esteem and confidence is still something I struggle with, but I have come a LONG way from that girl, and if I could I would tell her that you have so much more to offer than your looks (but you’re poppin’ don’t forget that), there’s no need to compare yourself. Recognize what makes you, you and stand out from the crowd.

4. Don’t stop reading and writing. When I was younger I read A LOT and let my imagination run wild through writing my stories. As I got older I let myself get further and further away from those past times that actually enriched my mind and vocabulary and started looking at reading as a chore. I wish I could go back and tell myself to find more books that interest you, sit alone in your dorm or the library and get lost in a book like you used to, just don’t stop doing this thing that is going to make you a better scholar and person.

5. Do not settle. When I say I wish I could’ve written this on sticky notes and placed them everywhere in my dorm…whew chile. Settling is one thing that I did far too often during this point in my life, and honestly, I didn’t learn how not to until maybe a year ago. I would go back and smack 17-year-old Jade right across the face for all the mistreatment she settled for from others and quite frankly herself. I settled for the excuses I made not to eat right, not to go to the gym, not to read more, etc. I allowed myself to accept less than I deserved constantly. If you feel like you’re doing the same thing I need you to stop reading and give yourself a reality check right now. You deserve greatness and you WILL NOT settle for anything less, not from a guy, a friend, a family member, and especially not from yourself.

6. Take your Spanish seriously. Fun fact about me: I’ve taken seven years of Spanish and I’m still not fluent (I know). Alongside my two majors, I was also a Spanish minor so I had to take a set amount of classes to complete the minor, many of which were advanced af. I really wish I would’ve taken them more seriously or just kept practicing the skill after graduation. I could be fluent and easily immerse myself more in the culture and let’s not forget, it would make me more marketable honey. Advice: pick a language, any language, and immerse yourself in it and its culture and you won’t regret it.

7. Put yourself first. I feel like I preach this in most, if not all, of my posts and that’s because it needs to be yelled from the mountain tops. I promise if I would’ve learned how to truly do this I could’ve saved myself a lot of time, tears, and headaches. I allowed, and still allow, myself to get pulled in so many directions trying to please and help everybody that I’m left with the short end of the stick. I would tell that sweet naive young lady that she is her first and only priority. Now, I don’t mean this in a selfish way by any means necessary, but I do mean that I need to focus on how Jade feels before anything. Focus on what’s best for you, do right by yourself, spend time alone so that you are full before you try to pour into someone else.

Needless to say 17-year-old Jade experienced a lot of things that could’ve crushed her, but all of these experiences, both good and bad, shaped me into the woman I am today. Do I wish that I could go back and warn young naive me and save myself a lot of pain? Yes. But more than anything I’m proud of myself for growing through it, learning from it and allowing it to make me stronger and wiser. My hope for you ladies reading this is that you resonate with some of my advice and incorporate it to prevent yourself from experiencing unnecessary pain. If you’re in your early twenties like me my hope is that you remember yourself at that age and everything you may or may not have experienced and be grateful for it all. Whether it was good or bad everything we’ve gone through was used to make us who we are and/or motivate us to become the person we want to be.

growth giphy

I want to hear from you guys! DM me on Twitter @skinlovepeace and tell me one thing you wish you could tell your younger self.

Bye for now!

“The tiny seed knew that in order to grow, it needed to be dropped in dirt, covered with darkness, and struggle to reach the light.”  – Sandra Kring

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