In a wonderful photo-essay commemorating the day, CNN interviewed some of the world's most remarkable and impressive women in all walks of life, and asked: "Looking back, what one piece of advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?" For some especially inspiring excerpts, read on. I took on this assignment myself, and this blog post is what I would say to my 15-year-old self, after getting out of my phone booth time machine and confiscating all of my 15-year-old self's death metal t-shirts and credit cards:
#1: Don't ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up.
#2: You don't feel this, and you won't feel like this for a pretty long time. But you! You are capable of nothing less than extraordinary greatness. And if you achieve anything less than extraordinary greatness, I will never forgive you. NEVER.
#3: Less makeup. Just...less, ok? Ok.
#4: There are so, so, SO MANY things you have prioritized today that will soon vanish, and by 24, you will have absolutely no mental trace that these things or people ever held meaning for you.
#5: What you look like today has absolutely NO impact on what you will look like in 10, 20, or 50 years. Don't sweat it.
#6: 99% of your best friends today - those friends you spend hours of each day obsessing over impressing and fitting in with - those blonde-haired mascara-eyed girls and the wild-haired rebellious boys - you will never see again after high school for the rest of your life. Ever. Also, when you eventually find them on facebook after all these years and painstakingly stalk their lives - using that career-family-physical attractiveness trifecta - in making these judgments - you will still never again speak to them.
#7: Your mom doesn't know everything. Far from it. Unfortunately, neither do you. She might not really understand you, or know what's best for you, but the upside of erring on the side of religious fanaticism masquerading as maternal TLC is that 10 years from now you have someone other than yourself to blame.
#8: I don't care how much pain you will be in during this life - I don't care how hard it gets and how horrible everything seems or is and how tasteless your food becomes and how badly you want to drive your car onto the train tracks and how lonely you feel and powerless and pathetic and unloved and unlovable - you grit your teeth and you HANG ON. Suicide is not the solution - because when you disappear from this gritty, disgusting picture, they win. Don't surrender. Don't let go. Channel your anger - the pity, the sadness, the alienation, the whatever - and kick their asses.
#9: I know it seems like sex is, like, the most insanely important and miraculous thing that has ever existed in life. While this might hold some meager truth, I'd like to assure you that sex is neither sufficient nor necessary for happiness. No even close. I mean - sex is amazing - heart-stopping under the right circumstances. However, using physical manifestations of others' perception of your sexual desirability as a measure of self-worth...not very accurate.
#10: There are some people on this earth who end up marrying their elementary/middle/high school/college sweetheart. You are not one of them.
#11: You. Are. Not. Crazy. You are not crazy. You. Not crazy.
Your feelings, motivations, aspirations, pain, anger, indignation, frustrations - your emotions - they are valid. All of it is valid, legitimate, reasonable, and human. You are human, you are valid, and these feelings are valid. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise - is just an asshole.
Your turn, dear reader. What are some things you would tell your 15-year-old self?