It’s prom season. Which means Facebook feeds are popping up with happy photos of dapper couples sporting color-coordinated dresses and cummerbunds, showcasing pretty flower wrist corsages. There’s hope and celebration in their smiles and a wistful “school-is-almost-over” delirium. My friends with prom-going teens are sharing that the make-up, hair, and nail appointments—plus tux rentals, elaborate prom invites, and dinner plans—are budget-busting and more complex than some weddings we remember. At the same time, the dresses are much more simple and streamlined than the fussy, ruffled peach taffeta affair I wore back in the day.

As I think about the young women I see in these online photos—and my young self from years ago (holding flowers dripping with matching ribbons)—I wonder if we hold the same dreams. Carry the same anxieties. Believe the future is full of possibility. Or if we want to shrink back because it feels a little too overwhelming.

What would I share with these women that I now understand from the vantage point on this side of prom…and college…and pushing through insecurities…and living single for more years than I ever thought would be true…and marriage…and miscarriage…and babies…and job loss…and health scares…and travel…and friendship…and laughter…and tears…and life? A few things:

All will be well.
Really, it will. You’ll get dumped. You’ll try new things. You’ll face disappointments. You’ll make your way through.

Give thanks.
You have friends in your life who love you and a God who is with you. Every day. Lean into them.

When you pray, move your feet.
It’s easy to get stuck when life throws you a curve-ball. Take small steps that will move you forward in your calling and purpose.

Take everything as a compliment.
My 80+-year-old friend Luci Swindoll has lived her life on this principle. She practices not getting ruffled if someone says something that could be offensive or hurtful. She’s sought to look for the best and see the best in the people in her circle, moving through rough spots with kindness and grace.

Smile when you talk.
It really can brighten your day and open the door for new opportunities.

What would you tell your 18-year-old-self…and pass along to the generation of women currently celebrating the prom season of life?

The author and friends at Prom