In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8), YouTube launched a campaign called “#DearMe” where all women and girls, or anyone really, were invited to share open letters that they would write to their younger selves. And it could be on anything, from body image to love to self-confidence, etc.
I read a few letters and watched a few videos myself. And I suppose I’ll go ahead and share my own #DearMe letter, going back to my 15/16-year old self. I could probably go through my old journals and go from there, but for now, I’ll just go off the top of my head.
Oh boy. Here we go.
Here you are, 15 or maybe 16 years old. But it’s sophomore year, the year where things change for you and will forever shape you. You have thin brows because you over plucked; you want to fit in and in a lot of ways you do, but inside you feel so insecure. But that’s okay. I think all kids that age do. You’re not alone. There’s a couple of things I want to tell you, from my 26-year old perspective. That’s right, we’re 26 now. And we’re doing pretty good and feeling pretty happy, too. Things haven’t exactly turned out the way you might expect them to, but it’s even better than you could have expected. More on that later.Right now, I want to give you some advice and also pick at our brain a little. Excuse my grammar.
I’ll try to make this short, but we’ll see how it goes.
First of all, don’t be ashamed of how you do in school. Yeah, you passed all of your classes with average grades and learned things. Mostly A’s and B’s with one C thrown in. Thanks Mr. H and good ol’ geometry. But maybe try a little harder. You can push yourself and get great results. Don’t just get by because you’d rather let people think you don’t have to study to get good grades or because you’d rather hang out with your siblings and their friends. Trust me, you are going to need those studying skills in college! And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling with something.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Go ahead and try out for choir. Heck, you know they took just about anyone. And don’t be ashamed to hide your voice just because one guy laughed when he asked you to sing a song after you mentioned you were thinking choir. He didn’t mean to make you feel bad. He just has bad people skills. and yes, sports are fun! They’re not a burden. They’re not something to torture you with.
Be open with your friends, as hard as it is. Sometimes the people that are the meanest are the closest to you. You need to be open with them and let them know when they hurt you. Maybe they need someone to talk to, because things are hard for them and the only way they cope is to make others feel bad. There are other girls out there that will be your friend because they want to be your friend, not because you’re someone they can simply vent to and get upset with over any little thing to let their own frustrations out. But be there for them anyway. They need you.
You keep listening to music that makes you feel unhappy. You keep thinking it’s making you feel better by their words. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They feel your angst, the fact that your parents misunderstand you and smother you. But in reality, it’s those words that put those thoughts in your head. It’s not true, sweetie. You have so much to be thankful for. Don’t listen to tough and hard music. It might make you look tough on the outside, but on the inside, you know you’re hurting and want to ask for help but your pride isn’t letting you. Just let it go and tell someone you’re struggling. It’s okay to feel upset. It’s okay to ask for help. You’re not bothering anyone. In fact, the ones close to you want to help; stop pushing them away.
Oh yeah, the punk/rock days. You wore dark clothes and didn’t want your picture to be taken. And if you did have you picture taken, you never gave a real smile, if you smiled at all. You have a beautiful smile my dear. Show it.
Then here’s the big thing. Boys.
They’ll get ya in trouble, I tell ya. And by trouble, I mean mess with your head. Oh, how they do.
You started out with a sweet boyfriend the beginning of sophomore year. He was nice to you and everything, but let’s be real. His kisses were mediocre and after your first kiss, you knew it was all downhill. Then you find out later on he cheated on you, but you only find out after after you break up. You broke up with him because you knew it wasn’t going anywhere. The feelings were gone. Then suddenly, a senior who is the brother of one of your girlfriends starts paying attention you. You were both on ASB (Associated Student Body) and so you had to see each other about once a week. Your school is small and so all of the classes are close together. It’s not uncommon for seniors to be friends with sophomores or even freshmen, but anyway.
By the way, don’t bother with ASB. You only did it because you thought it might help you in college, but guess what? You’re going to save money through community college, honey. Oh yeah!
You liked the attention he gave you. It made you feel happy to know a senior might like you. You, the girl who never felt pretty even though there were boys who had crushes on you even though they never talked to you. Maybe it was your home school image that made you feel so insecure about boys. I know you’re uncomfortable with your social skills, but don’t worry; you mature and grow up just fine.
You’ve always been a reader. You loved fantasy; it took you places you could only dream about. Don’t be ashamed of the fact that you love to read. It helped shape you when you were growing up and being home-schooled. There is no normal. It’s okay!
The attention he’s giving you, while it lasted for months, isn’t go anywhere. He makes you promises but tells you to keep them all a secret, “until the time is right.” You never get involved with him physically, but emotionally you are so attached. He tells you not to tell anyone about your “secret relationship.” You’ll find out soon enough he’s been doing the same to two of your other girlfriends. When you find this out, you’re going to get angry. You’re going to be upset and do things to yourself you might regret. You’ll tell your family it’s just school that is bothering you because you never told any of them about him, except your sister who was working as an office assistant. They knew all the gossip among the students.
I wish you had listened to your warning signs but you know what? Out of all crap he’s going to put you through and all the sleepless nights he’ll cause (maybe this is where you anxiety was triggered. But don’t worry, you’ll eventually learn to control it. Mostly. anyway), you’re going to come out stronger and happier.
Once he figures out what he’s done to you, he’ll give you a crap excuse and you buy it. But you swear you’re never going to let another boy do to that to you again. and you won’t. Because not even a week after this goes down, you’re going to “meet” your future husband. You’ll meet and reminisce about things, ask about where he plans to go to college, and in the end, you’ll exchange numbers. Three weeks later, on May 27, he’s going to tap you on the shoulder before you go back inside your house to ask if you’ll be his girlfriend. Then about 8 years and 2 weeks later, he’s going to propose. You won’t see it coming, by the way. Then a year and one month later, he’ll become your husband.
That’s right, your husband. He’s the brother of your sisters friend. I won’t go into too much detail but I’ll just say for you, it’s all a fairytale. And right now, you are living very happily ever after. In fact, he’s cuddled up in bed next to you. He’s so cute.
I think what I want you to learn and take away are these few things:
Push yourself. You’ll be surprised at how smart and talented you really are when you just give your all.
Try new things! Don’t worry about what other people think!
Be yourself and stick up for yourself.
Listen to your heart.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’ll all work out!
Ask for help when you need it.
Finally, don’t give up. You might be hurt but something better is out there for you.
Well, we’re getting to end here but before I go, I want to say just a few more things.
Thanks for hanging out with everybody. You were never picky about who you ate lunch with; don’t stop that. You don’t belong to a cliche or an image.
Listen to happy music once and a while. That “punk” rock is fun to listen to, but only if you’re NOT upset. It makes you feel and see things that aren’t even there. Your parents love you and aren’t trying to hold you back. Same with your siblings. They’re all protective of you and maybe know a thing or two. Or three. Tell them all you love them, too. It’s so important for people to know that and feel it, too.
Spend some time with your grandma’s. They love you so much and want to be a part of your life.
Finally, stop plucking your eyebrows and ease up on the eyeliner.
Eh, you’ll figure it out eventually, thanks to YouTube.
Well, self, until next time.
p.s. That same boy that broke your heart and strung it along to all those months? He’ll regret it; trust me. He’ll tell you later on when he realizes he’s forever lost you to your now husband.