I know 17 can feel like a danger zone. It's as if your life is permanently bound by yellow "CAUTION" barricade tape -- self-esteem, confidence, and innocence, just a few of the many causalities.
Seventeen is tricky. You're paralyzed in this archway between childhood and adulthood, both directions pulling, just as confusing as they are enticing.
High school, boys, friends, enemies, popularity, appearance, stress, family, your future -- taking a deep breath is easier said than done; it's just a lot to take in.
As if your AP books aren't heavy enough, I see all these weighing on you. And somehow, you manage to carry on, but who's carrying you?
I wish I could always guarantee being your first line of defense, picking up any bits and pieces you may have lost along the way. Sadly, life is not always so permitting.
So little sis, in case I may not have the ability to transform into your shield, the next best thing I can offer is a collection of my advice. I hope you grab onto this little rope of wisdom I'm throwing down. My words are not perfect, but they are 7 years older in experience, observation, and possibly wisdom.
Here are some things I know (in no particular order):
Embrace your strengths and weaknesses. Don't just identify both, welcome both with open, loving arms -- these make you who you are. The key is to cash in on your strengths. When you maximize one, you will naturally minimize the other.
"Change is the only constant in life." Understand this. Remember this. And adapt.
It takes one. It takes one other person to tell you he/she supports you and believes in you to make you feel like you could conquer the world.
Let go: the quicker, the better. At your age, experiences no longer leave harmless memories, they leave marks -- marks that can stick; forever ingrained in us, like mental scars, slowly, if ever, fading away. Never let any negative actions or words take a hold of you. Live a limitless life, unbound by negativity, and let go with love.
Be agile. You will quickly learn that your environment is 95 percent out of your control. Shit happens. The only thing you can do is react with agility.
People respond. It's easy to make someone's day. One simple positive observation, and you could change the course of someone's day. A genuine compliment goes a long, long way; people will either generously give back or pay it forward.
Know who you are. Your identity is pure, honest, and perfect. Cherish it. Preserve it. Fight for it.
Shatter social mirrors. Either by accident or on purpose, your actions will begin to mimic those of your friends; at your age, no one dares to be one step ahead or behind one another. Majority doesn't always rule; in fact, here's a quote from the one and only Mark Cuban: "when you've got 10,000 people trying to do the same thing, why would you want to be number 10,001?"
What would you say to your best friend? We tend to be our harshest critics. However, we shower our friends with words of love and encouragement. Why do we have so much compassion for others, yet such rigid rules for ourselves? Before you judge yourself next time, ask yourself what you would say to a best friend in your same situation.
Asking for help is more than okay; it's encouraged. Successful people know when and who to ask for help. We are social beings meant to rely on one another to survive. Asking for help is a sensible sign of strength, not weakness. You'd also be surprised how many people are willing to come to your aid.
Your future is unmarked and unlimited. You could literally do and be whatever and whoever you want. Take advantage of your abundance of resources and time, and really figure out not just what you're good at, but what you gravitate towards. Once you figure it out, run with it and don't look back. Your future is unscripted, a destination almost solely based on a series of your decisions.
Little sister, you are positive, strong, and wise at such a young age. Witnessing a young woman exhibiting so much inherent knowledge is extraordinary. Your intuition guides you; and so my words are only meant to shed some more light along your path.
Liz is the creator of 20swealth.com, a personal wealth blog for Millennials.