An exercise/homework I have been asked to do recently (by my therapist) is to write a letter to my 13-year-old self. I am doing it for different reasons for that particular exercise, but there are other things that can be addressed publicly. Thirteen wasn’t a particularly rough year for me, I would just say that middle school was in general. Wasn’t it for everyone? I thought it totally sucked. Now I realize that there are several ages where I wish my older self (now or some time in the future, we always get wiser) could have intervened or guided my younger self. But let’s start with 13, shall we? The other ages will follow…
You are a smart, pretty, fun, and funny girl. Never forget that. Those qualities, and your sweet and thoughtful nature, are only going to make you attract friends and good things throughout your life. Do not worry that you are not the most popular girl in school or the smartest, or the prettiest. Just concern yourself with doing your homework and doing well in sports and developing good friendships with girls and boys who are actually nice to you and like you for who you are. Stay away from people who already seem bitter and jaded at the ripe old age of 13, they have nothing to offer you. Be nice to them, because you should be nice to everyone. But, you do not have to like everyone and not everyone has to like you. Who cares? You’re not everyone’s “flavor” and neither are they yours.
Do not worry so much about the fact that you have braces (you’re going to have them for a while, 5 years, ugh), the end result is sweet. Thank your parents profusely for this expense. Stop caring about your crazy, curly, frizzy hair and just know that it will settle out and you’ll learn to work with it. Realize that bad skin and the teasing that comes with it is a rite of passage. Your skin will clear up and one day, when you’re working as a restaurant host at age 24, a random male patron will walk past you, do a double-take, and then come back to tell you that you have beautiful skin. It will make your day. You will ride high on that compliment for weeks. Some people apparently peaked in middle school but you did not, be thankful for that. True beauty is on the inside anyway. If you are a beautiful person inside it will shine through on the outside. Don’t worry about all the teasing from kids now. Kids are mean at this age. They suck. They may have terrible lives at home. That is no fun for them but they take it out on others. There is this saying, the worse mood you are in, the more assholes you run into. Keep that in mind and be friendly and nice and kill people with kindness, it goes a long way. As an adult people will think of you as their laid-back friend who is always full of sunshine and nice things to say. One who tends to look on the bright side but can also be sarcastic and funny.
Keep working hard in school. Make friends with smart kids who are usually teased for being “nerds”. They’ll be the successful adults and they’re interesting, hilarious and really smart. They’re nice, genuine people. Personality is way more important than popularity. Popularity dies after high school and who the hell cares if you were popular in high school or middle school? A potential employer interviewing you when you are 30 certainly does not. The so-called nerds are the ones worth getting to know. They may also help you with math and science, which you know are not your strong points.
Continue on your path of not doing drugs, smoking, or being interested in alcohol. You won’t have crazy stories to tell about high school, but you also won’t get in trouble. It’s not worth it. Twenty-one will come soon enough and then you’re free to do whatever you want and in moderation (the key to enjoying things).
I know that you hate running now (in gym class), but it is going to be your savior at several times in your life. For exercise, for mind-clearing, for sanity. You will live in a place where it is COLD in winter but you will bundle up and go running in single digits because you need the peace and quiet and the time to yourself to do something for yourself. You will also discover yoga and trapeze in your early adulthood which are fun and a type of therapy as well.
Lastly, know that you have good parents. Ones who love you and have maybe been a little (okay, a lot) overprotective. That’s okay though, it will keep you out of trouble and then scare you into being a goody two shoes throughout college. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Really, there isn’t.
Mostly, work hard in school and enjoy being a kid with no responsibilities, but be the best version of yourself. You’ll be an adult soon enough and that lasts much longer than being a carefree kid.
The best is yet to come (still!),
Your 32-year-old self.