Dear Eleven-Year-Old Me,
I read your diary recently, and it took me by surprise.
I remember you being quiet and a little hard on yourself, but it pained my heart to relive the insecurity and fear that came with being a pre-teen.
That list you made about why boys don’t like you, do you remember writing that? You said that you’re ugly, fat, dumb and that none of your clothes were cool?
Even writing those words makes me queasy.
Why did you care so much about what boys thought of you? And why on earth did you think any of those things were true? Who taught you to use those words when describing yourself?
As I read on, I witnessed your fake confidence, your I don’t need or care about anyone attitude, only to be broken down when a boy liked your friend instead or when your sister didn’t want you around her and her friends. You craved independence and a confidence that you weren’t yet ready for. You wrote your words, but you didn’t know how to use your voice.
Tomorrow, you turn thirty-two, and it worries me that we still lack the confidence we always dreamed we’d have. Yes, we have a good job, we write better than we could have ever hoped, we have a great family, fantastic friends, and a husband who loves us no matter what we do or how we look.
BUT we’re still unkind to ourselves.
We still look in the mirror and only point out our acne and our cellulite rather than how bright our smile is and how our eyes have a hint of yellow in them depending on how the light hits them.
We’re still quick to leave a meeting or a phone call and think about all the things we said wrong. We still wonder why certain people don’t like us. We crave to be accepted. We want to impress people and do what is expected.
All of those years trying to be thinner, smarter, and better have left scars. We have generalized anxiety and OCD for which we are getting help. We just started therapy, and we’re taking medication. We’re on the right track, and I’m proud of us.
I want to be better for you, eleven-year-old me. I’ve seen little hints of what we’re capable of when we are brave, when we take risks, and when we’re ready to fail and try again. We can fly!
It’s time for us to practice kindness to everyone and, most importantly, to ourselves.