If you could go back and tell your middle school self advice, what would you say? In honor of International Women's Day, YouTube has asked female YouTubers to give out advice to their younger selves as part of their #DearMe campaign — and it turns out there's an awful lot of advice to be had. Because let's face it, our younger selves could probably all have used some help.
In life, we often have to figure things out the hard way, usually by doing it wrong for a long, long time. We adopt limited views of the world because we don't have the experience necessary for greater perspective. We screw up when confronted with problems because we're massively unprepared and have never had to deal with this stuff before. We take certain things for granted and place too much stock in others. We basically have no idea what we're doing.
I remember my teenage self as shy and almost painfully earnest. She had yet to develop a tough outer shell or a sense of irony. The whole world basically freaked her out because she took everything so seriously — especially herself. She was, in short, the exact opposite of a person that you might expect to one day write for the Internet. And yet here we are.
The truth is that we all really do grow up, as much as it doesn't feel that way sometimes. We live, we learn, we grow and change. But it would be nice if we could have spared our younger selves some of the pain of having to learn some of this stuff the hard way. I know younger me could have used a lot the advice I've seen in the #DearMe campaign. In fact, present me is still working on some of these lessons, too.
Here's some of the best advice from the #DearMe campaign.
1. Hannah Hart
"Whatever your goals are right now, awesome! Go for it! Don't stress out if they don't happen right off the bat."
Also: "You're gay! This will all become abundantly clear in college."
2. Magali Vaz
"The only person who needs to be happy with your body and how you look is you.... People who have too strong opinions about how you look and feel like your body weight is their business, just avoid them."
Also: "I hate to say this but ... your mom was right 90 percent of the time."
3. Chesca Leigh
"Instead of being jealous or being insecure or intimidated by people around you, look at the things that make them great and figure out how to learn from them."
Also: "There is no reason to change yourself for someone else."
"There is great power in online community; there is great power in enthusiasm; there is great power in being able to find ways to express yourself and say what you actually feel, so please don't be ashamed of any of that."
Also: "Please get some sleep."
5. Lilly Singh
"Being different is the greatest thing to be.... All these things that make you different are going to get you so far in life."
Also: "You're never really alone."
6. Laci Green
"You don't owe anyone a perfect body, or perfect hair, or perfect anything. How you look does not determine your worth as a person."
Also: "don't spend any more time on those boys that aren't treating you right."
7. Gigi Chao
"There will be moments when you are lonely, but you have lots of great friends that you're keeping at a distance just because you're afraid to let them know who you are and what you are, and actually nobody cares. So just be yourself."
Also: "Suffering is overrated."
8. Issa Rae
"Stop trying so hard to be something you're not."
Also: "You are great. Continue to be great."
"You are beautiful. You are good enough for someone to love you for who you are, regardless of your past."
Also: "You really only need just a few quality friends. The number doesn't matter."
"The world is telling you to straighten your hair, to wear more makeup, to tweeze your eyebrows and then draw them in, but don't bother because eventually you're going to regret it all."
Also: "You're cool, but you get a lot cooler when you're older."
You can also get even more advice by checking out their individual videos, and in this YouTube compilation video.