Being 13 is tough

Dear Pauly,

Being 13 is tough. There's a lot going on.

You're getting to middle school, your parents are starting to talk to you about your grades more, your friends are growing up. Some of them even have girlfriends. Multiple girlfriends.

The worries never stop. The internet says you should be one way. Your parents think you should spend less time doing that thing you enjoy doing. You aren't very good at anything. School work is a drag. You can't keep up with your friends on the sports field because you're overweight. You try. But you can't. There's a cute girl who goes to the events you go to but you're too afraid to talk to her. Plus, she's taller than you.

I know these things because I remember being in 8th grade. I remember standing on the sports field looking at my friends with hair under their armpits. Then being extra careful to keep my arms by my sides whilst I took my shirt off. I kept the shirt in front of me so my stomach wouldn't show.

My hair was always a mess because I didn't like looking in the mirror. I didn't really care anyway. I'd go to class and cause trouble because I needed attention.

I thought, "I can't wait to grow up."

Some years passed. I started to grow. I got hair in the places.

But the worries were still there.

13 is tough but so is every other age. The worries never go away, they only change form.

When you're 13 you're self-conscious about your body.

"Why don't I look like the other kids?"

When you're 23 you're self-conscious about your job.

"Am I earning enough money?"

When you're 33 you're self-conscious about your body.

"Am I getting fat?"

When you're 43 you're self-conscious about whether you can pay for your kids' school.

"Am I earning enough money?"

When you're 53 you're self-conscious about whether you've spent enough time on the things you enjoy.

"Should I sign up for next weeks piano class?"

When you're 63 you're self-conscious about whether you've got enough time left to spend with your grandkids.

"The doctor said I should be taking it easy."

I'm not saying these things to scare you Pauly. But I'm not going to hide the truth from you either.

You're old enough to start thinking about what you can and can't control.

Put it this way. You can't control when you start to grow. And as much as you'd like, you can't control when you first kiss a girl.

Spending too much time thinking about these things will only make you more insecure. It's hard to understand now but I thought about the same things when I was your age. Thinking about them all the time only made it worse.

I want you to try something. Sit down and think for a minute.

What are the things you can control and what are the things you can't?

You'll probably find there's much more you can't control than you can.

But there's one thing you've got within you. One thing that will follow you from 13 to 23 to 33 to 103.

The story you tell yourself.

Now they don't teach this in school. Because it's really hard to teach. Everyone is still trying to figure it out. No one really knows how to explain it. Including me.

The best example I can give is that movie you love watching. You know the one we put on when I came to visit last.

What happens in the ending scene?

Jira becomes King.

But you know he didn't start there.

He started as a young boy. You remember him walking through the streets. The merchants rushing up to him and telling him to get lost.

All he wanted to do was grow up like his older brother, Leroy. Leroy the tall Knight with the beautiful girl.

What happens next?

Jira goes through the forest. He gets lost. He's stuck and doesn't know what to do.

Then what?

Jira decides to face his fears. He fails the first time. And the second time. Then still manages to end up on the throne. But now he's self-conscious about whether he's a good leader or not. There's always something.

You're probably thinking, "yeah, but that's a movie."

And you're right. It is. But I want you to think like Jira. Think like the movie.

You don't have to go through a forest.

But like how Jira ends up in charge of the Kingdom. You're in charge of the story. The story you tell yourself every day.

Being self-conscious is not a bad thing. It means you're thinking about where you fit in the world. Many people would benefit from being a little more self-conscious.

You can't control the challenges you face in life but you can control how you think about them.

You will grow taller.

You will kiss a girl. You'll both lean in and close your eyes. Your lips will touch. Then you'll pull away. And she'll open her eyes and smile. And it'll be beautiful.

You can lose weight if you try. It's hard. But doable.

Every time you think to yourself, you're writing your story. Some thoughts will be good, others won't.

But when you focus on the things you can control instead of the things you can't, you become King. King of your own Kingdom. Just like Jira. Except you don't need a crown.

I didn't get hair under my armpits until I was 18. And I was still 190lbs still at 22.

If you can lose weight, it's better to do it earlier. You can control that one. With food, movement and sleep. Write back if you need some help.

Talk soon,

Charlie

ben-white-126974-unsplash.jpg
Source: https://qr.ae/TUyysR