I imagine you being about 11 or 12 as you read this. I'm going to get right to it baby girl - life is not going to go AT ALL how you planned or expected - so the first thing I want you to know is to learn to go with the flow, because as big of a planner as you are, there is an amazing amount out of your control. Control is an illusion. You will not be able to change anyone, and you won’t be able to escape the bad economy facing you and your generation. Instead, focus on what IS in your control: like your response to your circumstances and the people in your life, how you spend your time, your attitude, your actions, and going to therapy to become a well-adjusted human being. As much as there is out of your control there is enough within your control to not lose hope.
All you see at your tender, young age, is a girl in glasses, treated poorly by her peers, terrified of being home and craving safety. You think you’re weird because childhood friends suddenly didn’t want anything to do with you. You feel like a nerd because you love to read. You don’t have a lot of self-worth right now - but I promise one day you will have it and you will be able to recognize the lies you believed - the primary lie being that you need to be perfect in order to be loved. Spoiler alert: you don’t. The false belief you need to be perfect in order to be loved is a message you received from your dad. It may be true that in his eyes you need to be perfect to be loved by him - but you do not need to be perfect to be loved by God or others - and if anyone sends you the message that you're anything other than awesome, they are not worth your time. Shake the dust of your sandals and move on.
You spend way too much time thinking about what other people think of you, only to realize in your thirties that everyone else is walking around struggling with the same fear. You were never alone, everyone is fighting battles from their childhood years whether they know it or not. This realization can help you have compassion for others and take things less personally. If you can start implementing that belief into your life now, you will save yourself heartache when friends or boys take advantage of you or are unkind to you. You are going to believe one day that you’re actually awesome and are generally good and kind – unless you’re in retail or driving; you are extremely irritated with people in those environments – you should probably figure that out, and if you can implement your confidence now it would really help us out.
You are way more of a bad-ass than you know. As sensitive as you are (I wish I could tell you this stops but it doesn't), many people in your life have been straight-up dicks to you and that is not because of you, it is because of them. Remember that sleep-over you went to when the girls talked about you when they thought you were asleep? I can’t offer you anything here - you handled that like a boss. You could have cried, you could have pretended to be asleep, both would have been justified. Instead, you had a moment where you recognized your worth, that they were mean, and they were wrong. You called them out and didn’t let them get away with it. You shamed them with your tone and spoke with dignity. I wish you would have carried that dignity and self-worth past that moment - but it was awesome nonetheless.
You will see the worst of men and boys from a very young age. I’m so sorry for what you have and continue to experience with the opposite sex. You deserved approximately 0% of their bullshit. Invest in your female friends when you have them – they are amazingly more emotionally equipped to be in your life. I would tell you to not even bother with boys but if Bobby I. kicking you after you kissed him on the cheek didn’t serve as a warning against them I don’t know what will.
At the time this letter is being written you will have loved deeply, twice. One was unrequited, however, and I highly encourage you to not engage with a guy named Nate, he is sadly, not worth all the emotional investment you will have made for a year. He will treat you so poorly at the end of your friendship and it will take you years to feel fully healed from that. Take BSB member Kevin Richardsons advice, "No man is worth your tears, and the one who is won't make you cry." It's not entirely accurate, plenty of real love stories involve tears. Which leads me to the next deep love you will experience, the love of your life. Remember that boy you met at your friend's house when you were 13? Oh, wait, you're roughly 11 or 12 as you read this so you haven't met him yet. You'll both be too young to realize what's happening - Ed Sheeran was right - but as you meet throughout the years, the night you connect at 13 keeps being repeated. Trust it. Liz's grandma was right, great loves are complicated; they also require sacrifce, forgiveness and faith. I can't tell you yet how it turns out but don't let your fear outweigh your faith.
One last observation about the opposite sex - You’ll hear more than one guy say that they think they don’t deserve you or aren't good enough for you. It will frustrate you to no end because you won't understand what that means. Are they insecure and don't know their worth? Do they think you don’t know how to choose a good partner for yourself? Or are they really saying, “I know there’s some things I need to change to be as good as I think you are but I’m not going to take the steps to do that for you or myself?” It sounds flattering at first but really it's a bit of an insult. You’ll realize that guys are extremely fragile, and generally speaking women are the stronger sex. Sadly, you’ll be dead long before it’s socially acceptable for men to cry, deal with their emotions or be mature enough to be in a relationship that matches your emotional intelligence. Don't settle, but know that even the most well-adjusted guys you've met are still a little clueless. Be patient, otherwise you'll just get bitter and bitterness looks good on no one.
Forgive. You know those boys? The girls at that sleep-over? Their behavior is not about your worth, it is about a lack of their own. Forgiveness feels like it costs you something. But really it gives you your power back. You are not a doormat when you forgive, you’re a doormat when you allow people to repeatedly offend you. Build boundaries, speak up for yourself and walk away when necessary. You are great at encouraging others and speaking life to them – don’t ever stop that. When you’re sad, reach out to others and lift them up, take the focus off yourself and love on them.
Here are some random moments from our life I’m going to have to insist you correct:
- Don’t post pictures of yourself experimenting with make-up. Just, don’t.
- Don’t date guys named David, you will still believe this years after they are no longer in your life.
- Don’t ignore your intuition, people may not always agree with it, but you do you boo-boo, this is YOUR life. What’s right for you is right for you, period. If you’ve learned anything it’s that you and you alone will have to live with your choices. No one knows what it's like to have been in your shoes and if people judge you or disagree with you, it's ok, they'll be fine, more importantly, so will you.
- For God’s sake DO NOT sit on a beach all day with Jon Gaddis. You will get the WORST sun burn of your life.
Ellen is right, Be kind to others.
Jesus is right, forgive and do unto others.
Brene Brown is right, get curious about where your emotions are coming from and be vulnerable
You were right: love with your whole heart, at least you can look in the mirror and know you loved strongly.
Honestly little me, the only reason I can tell you any of this is because of the experiences you gave me. Life can’t be avoided, and hindsight doesn’t change the past, it just helps us navigate the future – so don’t waste time crying over spilled milk. You’ll never read this and even if you could, I wonder if you’d do anything different anyway. I can’t spare you from any heartbreak or mistakes you’ll make. Focus on what you did right, learn from what you did wrong – be thankful for everything you can think of and love everyone the way you want to be loved. <3 It turns out, life is really that simple.