If I could go back in time and tell my former, teenage self ten things to encourage and enlighten based upon what I know now through experience...that conversation would go a little something like this....
1.) All attention is not equal. Wearing tiny skirts and low cut tops will attract attention...but it's not the attention you really want. People will turn their heads to look at a car wreck but it doesn't mean it's a good or positive thing to see. In the same way, dressing in revealing clothes may gain you attention but it doesn't give you what you really want...which is respect. Dressing modestly, on the other hand, is more like a shiny, polished, brand new car...attracting respect and awe. You choose how you want to represent yourself outwardly. Do you want to be the car wreck or the polished car?
2.) You are meant for so much more. What goes on inside those high school walls and within those high school days will not compare to the accomplishments and beautiful life that lay ahead of you. Don't get caught up in trends, popularity or peer pressure. They will fade, leave you feeling empty and can compromise your future.
3.) If you don't want anyone to find out, don't do it. If you feel the need to hide something, keep a secret or live in the shadows then chances are that something is not positive and could be potentially harmful to you or others. Live in the light.
4.) Sometimes your plans don't work out because God has better ones. God wants what is BEST for you. Seek His best even if that means His plan is not what you would have planned for yourself. It may take some time - maybe even years - for His full purpose to be revealed, but trust that He will never lead you wrong. Follow where He leads.
5.) Don't look back, you're not going that way. Everyone makes mistakes. Learn from them and move ahead. Don't allow your past to hold you captive from pursuing a brighter future. It doesn't matter what you've done or where you've gone, all that matters is where you go from here.
6.) Smoking is NOT cool. Your money, your health and your hygiene are literally going up in smoke. There is absolutely nothing beneficial about smoking. Don't waste your life on it.
7.) Stand for what is right...even if you stand alone. You can't please everyone. It's a fact of life. You can try to be popular in the eyes of others by simply going along with the crowd, but if you want to be a woman of character - one that can be truly admired - then there are times when you are going to have to choose boldness and risk criticism in order to do the right thing. But if your heart is in the right place, you will never be standing alone. Christ stands with you. Do not shy from who you truly are because of fear of abandonment or negative opinions from others. Don't lower to the world, raise toward heaven. God is easier to please than people are.
8.) Love can wait to give, lust can't wait to get. Having a sexual relationship outside of marriage is fundamentally a relationship for the present without any or little concern for the future of the relationship. This type of relationship is not total, but rather limited. Your future husband is waiting for you. He's been praying for you since he was nine-years-old. Trust me, he's worth waiting for.
9.) Singleness is NOT a curse. Being single is not some form of misfortune that you think you must get through before life can really begin. Enjoy that time to really discover who you are, what kind of contributions you can offer to this world that go beyond companionship. Give yourself time to grow into the woman God has created you to be and when love does come along (because it will) you will be able to share an already fulfilling life with that person. Think of it this way...if you were to write down a resume to give to your future husband what would you want to put on it? Use this time to build the qualities and skills that will shape you into a great wife..not a perfect wife, but one that strives to be a Proverbs 31 Woman. Look at singleness as training in faithfulness. Embrace this season in your life.
10.) You are enough. The world we live in is broken and throughout your life you will hear all kinds of lies that tell you that you are not enough. You are not thin enough. Your legs are not long enough. Your clothes are not stylish enough. Your chest is not big enough. You are not smart enough. You are not wealthy enough. You are not valuable enough. There is a beauty industry, a fashion industry, a television industry, along with all sorts of social groups and people that are trying to convince bright young women: your worth does not measure up. You must have the clarity and common sense to know that none of that is true.
Don't let society and the things of this world influence you or trigger insecurities that will lead to you lowering your standards to less than God's best. You were created for a purpose. You have innate value. You are loved more than you could ever comprehend. There has never been, and there will never be another you. That's what makes you epic...makes you beautiful. You have unique contributions to offer the world and everyone will lose out if you are too fearful to share them. Fully embrace your uniqueness because you're the only one who can.