Dear Beautiful,

You will soon realize for yourself that that’s what you are. Beautiful. And not just on the outside (though knowing that is important too). You are beautiful in your essence. Know that, and you won’t ever need validation.

Life is about connecting, with people and with God. If you don’t learn to connect, you’ll soon find yourself drowning with nothing to catch hold of.

The most important thing you’ll ever do in this life, is love yourself. And I don’t just mean physically. I mean deeply and intimately. To do this you’ll first have to know yourself, and knowing yourself takes time, and focus. Be patient.

Don’t search out love. And don’t be afraid to move on from situations that you think might be love, but turn out not to be. I know it’s scary thinking you’ll never find ‘The One’. And it’s frustrating investing time, energy, and your being into someone, and realizing that it was all a waste- but understand that nothing is wasted. Don’t ever let society tell you you have to come out of a bad situation ‘less’, or scarred, or with something missing. No one can ever change who you are but you. Walking away doesn’t make you any lesser. It makes you better off.

I’d give you advice on relationships, but that is one I’m honestly still working out. I will say this: Date. But don’t waste time committing to a man who you don’t see yourself spending the rest of your life with. Because that’s the point of dating. Society will tell you otherwise to justify the fleeting desire for companionship. How will you know? You will. We always do. We know exactly what we want our forevers to look like. So we know when we’re trying to fit a man into that picture who doesn’t belong there.

Be careful who you entrust yourself and your heart to. Not everyone is honest. Not everyone is kind.

Not every relationship you have will end badly. Some will just end. Enjoy the good ones while they last.

That ‘first love’ bullshit is bullshit. No man has any hold on you because he holds some insignificant numerical position in your life. There will be a first. And a second. And a third. And a fourth. And you can move on from them all.

As much as you should never try to change a man, a man should never try to change you. Relationships are about self-sacrifice. The decision to alter yourself for someone should be yours, and it should be made out of love, not in service to anyone else.

Trust your gut and your conscience. God put them there for a reason.

Men will disappoint you. So will women. People who you thought you could rely on and trust, will fail you. But it’s not because they are bad people. It’s because, as humans, we are innately flawed. Learn to love people in spite of their flaws. You will soon understand that in life, you will have to interact with everyone differently because of their flaws, but you don’t judge them by it.

Never be a stumbling block for another person. Aim to always uplift.

Learn your flaws. Instead of just accepting them, try to overcome them.

Think before you speak or act. Seriously. You will ruin a lot of relationships with people if you don’t do this.

Exercise. Eat well. Take care of the body God gave you. You’ll save yourself a lot of insecurities if you do.

You are a woman. Your emotions will lie to you. They will tell you a thousand things, then take them all back. Learn to control your thoughts. Your thoughts affect your feelings, and the wrong feelings can destroy your life.

Not every man is worth your time.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Whoever said ‘Everything that glitters isn’t gold’ got it spot on. Don’t go thinking you’ve found a diamond when it’s really just a rhinestone. Be patient. Time reveals things first impressions can’t.

Learn to forgive. And forget. Life is too short to hold on to things that will only hurt you.

Learn perseverance. If you’re lucky (or unlucky, given the global warming/resource depletion situation), you will live a long life, and like any cycle, life has ups and down. If you don’t learn to persevere, you will find yourself having more downs than ups, and never really live out the life you dream of. Yes, you will be knocked down. You will feel pain like you’ve never imagined- the kind that feels like your heart has been ripped out of your chest and trampled on- repeatedly. If you allow pain and stress to fester, it will poison and weaken you. Learn to stand back up, even when you don’t want to- even when every inch of your body wants to stay buried under the covers for the rest of your life and mourn. Life can be unkind in a way that swallows you up if you allow it. As cliche as it sounds, if you push on in spite of the pain, you really will get stronger.

People will try to shame you for speaking out and speaking your mind. Speak out anyway.

No situation is permanent… unless you want it to be.

Find your purpose and never lose sight of it. Know that part of it lies in God. The moment you lose sight of your purpose, you will stagnate, and live an unfulfilled life.

Give. Give. Give. People will take advantage of it. Do it anyway.

Travel. Go places. Break stereotypes. Experiences are much more valuable than accessories.

Be informed.

Call your parents more often. Do things for them without them asking. Realize the fact that they’re still around is a blessing. They will never tell you all the sacrifices they’ve made for you, or all the nights they’ve stayed up worrying and praying for you, or all the times they’ve rejoiced over and with you. Appreciate them, even if only for the very fact that you would literally be nothing without them.

Know that happiness is fleeting. Joy? That can’t be taken away. Seek joy out.

Life is not linear, and there is no one recipe for success. Don’t look at what others are doing. Trust the process. If you do what you’re supposed to, you will get where you’re going, with a lot more stories to tell about your journey along the way.

Always dress up. Make the effort. If you look good, you’ll feel good.

And, most importantly, keep your eyes focused on God, Beautiful. Have a deep, meaningful relationship with Him. The world will distract you, with it’s fleeting happiness and deep pains. You will fall.Refocus on God. Trust that the God who created the Universe and formed you loves you immeasurably. He didn’t create you for nothing. He meant it when He said you are fearfully and wonderfully made. If you keep your eyes focused on him, He will never fail you. Even when things are hard, and you mess up, and do things that make you ashamed to be in His presence, and you feel like He is a million miles away, trust that He hasn’t changed His mind about who you are or His plan for you. He knows your heart intimately. You couldn’t make Him abandon you even if you tried. So stay focused. Everything else will fall into place.