The YouTube #DearMe challenge has been around a while, but I thought I would take my own written crack at it. Here is an open letter to my 13-year-old self.
I hope this letter finds you well. You’ve got a lot going on, from friends to feelings to body image. You’re beginning to find your own way among the patterns of teenagers. Gone are the days of being friends with your sisters friends – finally, you are finding your own crew! Yet, you are under internal and external pressure, sweating from the heat of feelings you shouldn’t have to deal with right now. That girl is going to tell you to date this guy, and you won’t want to. And you don’t. Good going! Resist, resist, and smile. Your boiling point is a bit higher than you may realize.
Right now you may be confused about what you are doing. Are you cool? Are you wearing the right things? Does your outfit for the 80s dance look good? Sip that butterbeer at HP world slowly and appreciate how wonderful your family is. At times, they will be all you have.
You just got over a big hump in your life: the body hump. Not your body, but the idea of it.
Your body is not the enemy. Food is not the villain. Exercise is not the solution. You are not the problem.
Sometimes you will wonder why no one has a crush on you. They do, you just don’t want to recognize it. Let the other girls have the boys. You’ve got yourself to work on.
Whatever you do, keep writing. You are going to find a voice that others want to hear! After all the listening you do, people finally want to know your story. However, make sure you aren’t so busy writing that you forget to live your story. It will be worth telling and living, even if at times it does not seem that way.
When you are 17, you will discover that you want to visit New York. When you are there, smile and breathe. It will be your last chance to catch your breath before you have to be an adult. You will go to summer camp and it will be a lot better than last year’s, even though last year’s should have been perfect and you won all those awards. Yes, when you are 17 you finally have faith in other people and be blindsided by humans you never thought you’d get along with. You’ll fall with your eyes open and break open and have to sew yourself back together, only to realize you aren’t sure who you are anymore or what you are about to become.
All throughout the years from 13 to 18, you’re going to have bad thoughts. You don’t need meds or therapy: you need to open your eyes. Those girls don’t mean to hurt you. Break every mirror in your sight with your own thoughts. Black and white definitions will cage you in. You will not lose anybody that you need. You will survive, and your stories will thrive. You will have faith in organizations that will fail you and your voice will grow so loud that silencing yourself and growing up will be painful sometimes.
Your best friends right now will not be by your side forever, and truth be told, very few people will be. Keep being supportive to your family and stop putting eggs in baskets only to watch them bust open. Not yoking.
Laugh at stupid jokes and take plenty of time for yourself. You will grow to love food and puns and pretty pictures. In two years, you’ll meet a great programming teacher and begin to chart your very own path. You will speak at conferences about your experience as a homeschooler, start a blog that you love because it is YOUR OWN, and you will win things and lose things. The college choice will be one you weren’t expecting, but you will be SO excited and proud of your school. Keep an open mind and don’t expect too much. Love while you can, and try not to regret.
Remember – no matter what, it’s not your fault, and you’re going to live a big life after. At times you feel helpless and want to go back to it, but don’t! You are all you need, perfect in the most complex and simple ways. Call yourself a paradox and life will be much easier to live.
P.S. You’ll won’t finish any of those novels you start, but you will keep writing. Your favorite quotes will be from Virginia Woolf, ee cummings, and Beyonce. You’ll become a empathetic feminist and slam-poetry-lover who finally feels smart. Take on the world but enjoy the ride; I love you.
– Samantha, age 18