International Women’s Day was last Sunday. So YouTube posted a challenge to women: create a video with the hashtag #DearMe and send a message to your younger self.
I love this idea. I wish I could go back in time and give some encouragement to 13-year-old Alina (and other 13-year-olds on the hard road to growing up). So I’m taking up the #DearMe challenge.
1. I don’t think #DearMe should only be for girls. 13-year-old boys need encouragement too.
2. I prefer writing to talking, so I’m posting a letter instead of making a video.
Dear 13-year-old Alina:
This is your future self. You will like being 27 much more than you like being 13. I promise.
It’s okay to be weird and nerdy as long as you’re being yourself. Soon you will begin to find weird and nerdy friends, and it’s really fun when you can be yourselves together.
Thirteen is the bottom of the barrel. Life only gets better after this.
Write! Keep writing! You’re not crazy! You have a gift! Someday your dreams really will come true: you will really will be an award-winning author, host your own signings, see your books in bookstores, and be shelved between J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien. Don’t give up!
Being alone is hard, but it means you will have awareness and compassion for lonely people for the rest of your life.
Your pain is going to sprout wings—it will fuel your quest to find hope and bring others hope.
Your feelings are real. It’s okay to feel them and express them. Take the time you need to feel things. Just know that the darkness will pass in time. Learn what makes you relaxed and happy, and take time to be good to yourself. Learn to value your own well-being. You are God’s beloved creation and his image-bearer. You’re worth it.
You are about to meet some people who will be your friends for life. They will be awesome and inspiring and supportive. You will never be this alone again.
Experiment (within safe boundaries). You don’t have to be Perfect Girl. In fact, she’s way overrated.
The people who leave you out, tease you, or ignore you? The oblivious boys and the mean girls in the cool cliques? They’ll pass. They don’t represent the whole world. Give it time, and you’ll discover a much bigger world full of people who are much more worth knowing.
God likes it when you ask questions. Truth doesn’t fear investigation.
I wish I could tell you not to worry so much about pleasing other people—peers, your mom, adults, strangers—even people who don’t notice you or whom you don’t even like. But I’m still working hard at that lesson today. Instead, I guess I’d just tell you to balance care for others with care for your own well-being. Other people matter. You have a keen sense for their needs, and that’s a gift. But you matter too. Read this book: it will help.
That annoying little brother of yours will one day be your best friend 🙂
Don’t wait until your 20s to read Fahrenheit 451. You’re going to love it.
Don’t let bullies walk all over you. Stand up to them, and they’ll respect your boundaries.
Wear orange sometimes—it’s fun!
Be kind and open to people who think differently from you. Everyone has a story.
You don’t have to (and can’t) be anyone else. You’re unique. That’s magnetic. Love who you are, and other people will too.
Hang in there,
Your future self
Dear readers: what advice would you give to your younger self? Leave a comment!