JUF News asked Chicagoans to tell us
the biggest piece of advice they'd give (if they could) to their younger
selves-back at the time of their bar or bat mitzvahs. Here's what they told
It's ok to not have all the answers. Sometimes
it seems like we need to have life figured out when we're still kids. What
classes do you want to take in high school? Better decide now so you can be
ready for the right college program, and get a good internship, and get your
dream job. And what extra-curricular activities will you do? You want to be
well-rounded. To my 12-year-old self, I'd say, it's ok to not have the answers.
In fact, it might be better. Give yourself the room to try things. Give
yourself the room to make mistakes. That's how we learn and discover what works
for us and what doesn't.
Aleeza Lubin, Chicago
Wear your retainer.
Caroline Musin Berkowitz,
I would tell her to recognize the value of
what we have and the value of our religious beliefs and be able to appreciate
them on behalf of someone who might not have those same freedoms. I'm 100
percent sure I didn't fully appreciate that at 13.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Even now in
high school, people want to get to know you and those people are the ones that
will push you forward and give you the opportunity to succeed. Also, celebrate
mildly--that is, don't dance so hard at your own bar mitzvah party that you have
to change your shirt halfway through the night.
Chicago (JUF News summer intern and rising high school
If there was one thing that I would tell my
13-year-old self, it would be a quote that was said to me when I was a little
boy at White Sox Summer Baseball Camp and stuck with me forever, yet often times
would forget its meaning. It was easy to remember because it was comprised of
ten two-letter words, but it packed quite the philosophical punch: "If it is to
be, it is up to me." Hearing that would help boost my own self confidence and
motivation to succeed and reach any goals I wanted to set for myself, in any and
all aspects of my life and not just sports. It was this quote that made me
realize how much sports can teach you about life and it is through sports that I
learned some of the most valuable experiential life lessons.
Moffic Silver, Chicago
My advice to my 12-year-old self
would be: "You will never please everybody, so stop trying. Laugh instead of
cry, especially at yourself. Mean girls don't always grow up and grow out of
it. Sometimes mean girls are just mean. Find friends who love you regardless
of your size, shape, color of your hair or clothes you wear. Cherish them.
Good friends, ones who don't love you one day and ignore you the next, are hard
to find and hard to keep. Make the effort. Boys are stupid. Love them anyway.
But love yourself more. Be proud of your accomplishments, even if they are
embarrassing. Take risks. Sometimes it's okay to not be the best, and not care.
Life is not a competition. You were unique and wonderful and cute when you
were little, you are unique and wonderful and beautiful now-and you are only
Sandy Rockind, Chicago
Have a simple, haymish bar mitzvah. It means more to really understand what
you're doing than to offer party favors and videos.
Only pursue what you love to do in
life. Money isn't worth chasing as it's a road to nowhere.
Harold Gerber, Chicago
To her I would say:
First, do whatever you can to try to accept yourself and your family since you
all have many, many years together ahead. Second: Some people have absolutely no
idea what they are talking about while other people have really helpful and
important things to say; listen selectively. Third: Watch less TV, read more
books, listen-really listen-to music, make more art, look out the window, lie
under a huge tree, and if you want to play more kickball with the neighborhood
kids-it's still fine-you aren't that old.