Friday, April 13, 2012

Dear Fourteen Year-Old Self

Dear Fourteen Year-old Self,

I know this might be hard for you to understand, but I am writing you this letter ten years in the future when you are twenty-four years old. Don't try to understand it. Just go with it. I have a few things I'd like for you to know.

You're in the 8th grade. You're at the top of your game, the top of the school. The oldest, coolest thing since, well...last year's eighth-grade class. At least, that's what you're thinking right now. Believe me, this feeling of dominance and accomplishment fades each and every time you reach the next landmark. Right now you're the one that the other kids look up to, next year (in high school) you'll be the one everyone looks down on. This will happen again when you're a senior in high school and then a freshman in college. And again when you're a senior in college and then...well, just a young adult with no direction. So I'd recommend you just be grateful for where you are and not dwell too much on status and "coolness." It'll just bite you in the butt every four years anyway.

Girl, you've got spunk. You're fun. You're intelligent. You're athletic. You're well-liked (this may all sound incredibly unnecessary to you right now because at this point you're thinking, "Yeah, I know." But you haven't yet endured the confidence-sapping rigors of high school, but believe me, in ten years you'll be so flip-turned around and humbled, you'll need to hear yourself say it nearly every day). You're a good person. I'm proud of you. And always will be.

I wish I could save you from the pressures of high school. I wish I could give you the armour to be strong against her insidious glare, his top-down glances, her words, and his touch. But I can't. So instead, I just want you to know, it's going to be all right. Those messages you'll probably absorb about how you should look and act and talk and be; they'll come. And when they do, remember that your infinite value and worth remains the same even with a few chinks in your armour.

And when you feel worthless (and you will), please take heart that while this feels like the biggest, worst, most painful thing you'll ever go through, it's not. It actually just gets worse. But you'll make it through that too. I promise.

So to you, my fourteen year-old counterpart, may you encounter the newness of this growing up process with all the grace and endurance you can muster.

May you be unshaken by the rhetoric of womanhood. You need not look like her or act like her in order to be a woman. You were born. That's enough.

May you know that God is more complex than you think right now. Don't try too hard to have it all figured out. I mean, you've got a spiritual crisis coming in about six years, you might as well just enjoy the ride.

May you be confident that you're good enough without a boy. Yes, even that one. He'll kinda break your heart anyway. I'd just let it go.

May you know, even then and even now, that life will let you down. High school, college, and adulthood will take you by surprise. Life won't look like you thought it would, and that's okay. Resist expectations.

May you give yourself break and resist the urge to tear yourself apart. It doesn't help you. It doesn't help anyone. It's not admirable and yes, it's still abuse. Be kind. You're worth it.

May you know that "perfect" is a fiction. And you, yes you, pre-acne, heart break, and a college degree are exactly what you need to be. Right now. Forever.

May you find your voice and learn to recognize its sound, its nuance, its truth.

Your twenty-four year old friend,


EMILY STAR said...

I would have loved to get this beautiful and honest letter at 14. :)