What 5 Women Would Tell Their Younger Selves
YouTube's new campaign will seriously inspire you.
Oh, the teen years—so full of angst and confusion. We bet most of you wouldn't mind forgetting those tough times altogether. Between navigating the world of young womanhood (from that first period to first dates), and trying so hard to fit in, your teenage self had a lot on her plate.
And for today's teens, things are no better. According to a recent survey from the American Psychological Association, teens rate their stress levels at a 5.8 on a 10-point scale, topping the average stress level of adults at 5.1. Thanks to technology, teens have new issues like online harassment to face, too. In the 2010-2011 school year, 9% of students ages 12 to 18 experienced cyber-bullying, according to a 2013 U.S. Department of Education report.
In honor of International Women's Day this Sunday, March 8, YouTube is hoping to change all that by reminding girls (and grown women, too) that being your unique, full self is better than good enough—in fact, it's the best. As part of the #DearMe campaign, YouTube is asking women everywhere to take a video of themselves answering one big question: What advice would you give your younger self? Some of YouTube's biggest personalities have taken to sharing their thoughts, and the videos so far are amazing.
The advice may be for teens, but many of the vloggers touched on things we all need to hear. Here, our 5 favorite highlights.
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Don't think you need to change
"I know that you're worried about a lot of things right now: your grades, your body, dating, your body, your future, your body, and a lot of other things...like your body," Laci Green, a sex educator and host of MTV's first YouTube channel Braless, tells her younger self in her #DearMe video. Even in the adult world, getting hung up on, yes, your body, is a constant struggle. To fight all the noise telling you to change, Green has this advice: "In a few years a light bulb's going to click on and you'll realize how dumb all these expectations really are. You don't owe anyone a perfect body, or perfect hair, or perfect anything." Amen!
Forget trying to be "normal"
YouTube comedian Lily Singh, also known online as Superwoman, knows how stressful trying to fit in with the "norm" can be. "I would never try anything new. I used to be so bad at sports. I remember I used to cry during gym class," Singh says. "I would never want to step outside my comfort zone because I was so scared to stand out. I already stood out. I was passionate about weird things. I was the only girl who liked wrestling." Her smart advice: "If I could go back I would say embrace all those differences. As you grow you realize those differences make people awesome."
Fight negative thoughts with love
"Perfect is the most boring thing you could be," says YouTube actress and gamer Felicia Day. "So go ahead and mess up big. Failure is not the end of the world." That's advice we adults could manage to remember more often. If you do get down on yourself, just use Day's smart trick: "When that voice inside your head tells you you are fat or ugly or not going to do anything good with your life, then just think about them as a sad, lonely person living in a tiny cave in the back of your skull, and visualize hugging them because the best way to overcome hatefulness is love." And also: "Take care of your skin," Day says. "Your old self will brag about you at parties and you'll be really, really smart in retrospect."
Stop comparing yourself to others
Franchesca Ramsey, who goes by Chescaleigh, has gained a large following for her funny videos. In her younger years, though, she wishes she wouldn't have gotten so discouraged by the success of others. "When you see someone that's really successful you're just seeing the results, you're not seeing all of the work, and hardship, and all the disappointment that happened before they got to where they are. So if you compare yourself to them, you're just doing yourself a disservice because what you really should be doing is spending time and energy working on yourself and making yourself better so you can get where you want to go."
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Don't let material objects define you
On YouTube, Brittani Louise Taylor is known for taking your favorite songs and turning them into hilarious parodies. Through her #DearMe video, she shares why young girls shouldn't get caught up on the physical things. "You thought it was so important to have a nice car and nice clothes and nice things, and someday you will realize that things, money, cars, possessions don't matter. People matter, the people that love you matter, and doing things for others is what matters and fulfills you, not possessions."
International Women's Day is still two days away, so there's plenty of time to make a video of your own (when you're done, you can also create a GIF to share on social media). You may be completely removed from your teenage years now (and Thank. God.), but reflecting on how far you've come is bound to feel good. What could be better?