Some people will assume you're lazy. Some will think you've no ambition beyond sending your next text. But I know something about you and your kind from years of observation: 14-year-old girls are a force, a phenomenon.
Sure, you leave a trail of crumbs throughout the house, your bed is often unmade and sometimes, I can't find your floor, thanks to the contents of your wardrobe strewn like confetti after a parade.
There's drama. And tears. And strident scoldings of your little brother. No one's perfect and we are, all of us, learning each day.
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But you, my fierce, determined one, have many decades and myriad resources to climb life's ladder using your rapidly developing brain and powerful upper body.
Here are seven reasons it's great to be a 14-year-old girl:
1) You embody confidence. The world has not shaken it from you. You know your strength. Physically, you can climb to heights that would have my knees knocking. You don't give it a second thought. You can walk, run, kick a ball and jump all day. You have the balance of a gymnast and the grit of the TV ninja warriors you admire.
2) You learn quickly. New phone app? Mastered in minutes. Algebra? I'm not sure I ever grasped concepts and problem-solving techniques you employ. Art? You can look at a photo and draw what you see, using your own perspective to make it even better. Woodworking? Give that girl a pair of safety goggles and a mitre saw, and she's away. She'll make you a chair, table or napkin holder that will require permanent safekeeping, according to the parental code.
3) You know your worth. It doesn't derive from the way you look, stuff you have, or from your parents. It's a gift from God, or the universe or the collection of cells and genes that miraculously mingled to make you who you are (you get to choose your own spiritual path, too). You're worthy because you're human. You are not a special snowflake so often written about in a snarky way, but instead, a girl similar to all others and unlike anyone else. You are self-possessed. You understand what it means to own your body – no one has agency to invade or judge it.
4) You're kind. You're sensitive about people's abilities, limitations and interests. You refuse to form opinions about people based on skin colour, language or culture. You uphold the underdog. Neither outcasts nor popular kids intimidate you. You sometimes demonstrate weakness and exasperation with your primary antagonist - your little brother. We all know the saying – you always hurt the ones you love. You've learned to say, "I'm sorry."
5) You have a questioning mind. You don't believe everything you read or hear. You realise your peers don't have all the information. Neither does your mum. Neither does Google. You synthesise data from many trusted sources to make decisions. You're unlikely to fall for someone else's kooky theory because you read about it online. The term "peer-reviewed research" will become important to you, because you respect science. And watching chemical reactions in the lab is fun.
6) You love adventure. While being home with your beloved dog, friends and the stuff that forms part of your surroundings is comforting, you also want to see new places and meet people where they live. Memories of these folks – stories, jokes and food they shared – will stay with you long after kitschy souvenirs disappear.
7) You exude possibilities. It's not just your tender age; it's your attitude. You're ready to learn to fly. And God forbid, to start driving in two years. You might have one career or 10. Two children or six. Or none. A succession of partners or one spouse for life. Choose wisely, have patience and work on your relationships knowing nothing is forever – either a partner will die, or the love will. For all your shiny hopefulness, life has already taught you about loss and grief. Maybe that's why you love unreservedly; why affection for your precious pup can bring you to tears; why you cherish friends and family, cheering their accomplishments and scurrying for plasters when they're hurt. Your "I love yous" are not stored for tomorrow; they're given freely today.
Fourteen-year-old girls – be proud. If you work hard, we'll help you achieve your goals. Just ask us – we know someone who's doing what you're curious about. Or we'll find someone who does.
To my newly-minted 14-year-old: your exploration is well under way. People you meet will learn as much from you as you from them. Keep taking risks. Stay confident. Make sure you're paid the same as your peers – men and women – for your work. Always wear sunscreen (you knew I'd say that).
Happy birthday, Miss 14. I love you.