Dear Fifteen-Year-Old Me,
You’re more powerful than you know.
And more selfish.
I know the acne is tough. I know that feelings suck, and being a teenage girl seems impossibly complicated. I know you secretly want people to like you, even though you act indifferent simply because you have so few friends.
Some of it isn’t your fault. Let’s face it — you grew up incredibly sheltered, and the transition from home schooling to public school was rough to say the least. High school is an angsty time to begin with, but making the switch straight from home schooling to ninth grade in a new public school? Yeesh. That time of your life may be hard, but you’ll make it. Keep your head down and those grades will pay off, girl.
I remember the time when you got 102% on your English final because you did the extra credit, and the other kids were trying to figure out who it was who got that score. You looked at the sheet on the wall and saw your student ID number, and in excitement (and extreme naivety) you said, “Oh my gosh, that’s me!”
And that was the first time anyone said “F*** you!” to your face.
Needless to say, not a smart move on your part. But hey, you live and learn, and from then on you kept your grades to yourself.
But…some of it is your fault. You were sheltered, grew up in a bubble, even, but now you know better. You’re learning about the world, so there’s no excuse not to start thinking for yourself and challenging what is wrong. Stop trying to stay in that bubble!
You’re selfish — and I know you don’t want to hear it, but that’s part of the problem. You’re just beginning to find your voice, and you are still deciding how to use it. Yes, go feel your feelings, but for the love of God stop taking it out on everyone else.
Try to have a little perspective, and look beyond the frame of what’s happening in your teenage life this week. Look around you and be grateful for what you have, because a lot of people don’t.
I know you’re quiet, and in many ways still afraid of the world.
I won’t lie to you — there are a lot of really terrible things out there. There are always going to be people who want to take advantage of weakness, and prey on those whom they don’t believe can defend themselves. But you can.
There are always going to be people who don’t give a damn about what you think or believe or want in life, and who don’t think that you’ll be able to speak up for yourself. But you can.
There are going to be times when you are so lonely or hurt or scared that you don’t know what to do, and don’t see how you could possibly figure a way out. But you will.
You will figure it out, and your passion will lead you to strength and purpose. Know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and high school is not your whole life. Far from it.
There are a lot of hard lessons that you will learn but you are smart and resilient and damn it girl, you will bounce back.
You are supported and loved, and you’re fortunate to be so. Your family is there for you even when you don’t acknowledge or understand it. You are lucky enough to have a strong support system even if you rebel against it. Trust me, you’re going to need them, and they will always love you.
Being loved is a privilege. Stop taking it for granted.
Know that the world can wreck you, but it can also be a place of joy and laughter. Life is what you make it, so be aware of what you think.
And be careful who you surround yourself with. You’re too trusting, and it can get you into some real trouble. Being liked and accepted isn’t everything, much as you want to believe it, and the sooner you realize that the better.
But above everything — be kind. Be kind to those around you, because you never know someone else’s story or what they may be going through.
Be kind to your parents and siblings, because family is a blessing that not everyone has the privilege to experience.
And please don’t forget to be kind to yourself. You may be fifteen, rebellious, short-tempered, and not always a pleasure to be around, but you’re allowed to have time to grow up. Allow yourself to feel the freedom of being a teenager while you still can, and before you feel the true pressures of life. Allow yourself time to grow and figure out who you are.
Life is complicated, messy, exhausting, and beautiful. But I know that you are strong enough to make it here.