When I look back at my 7th grade picture in my school yearbook, I want to croak. The wildly, tight curly hair. The zits on my forehead. Strange body. Uneven skin tone. I cringe when I look at pictures from back then. I felt so awkward and ugly that I hid from the camera the following year. In fact, it was like I didn't exist because there was NOT ONE picture of me in the school year book.
My feelings were so delicate, so sensitive when I was young. Stupid boys said mean things to me and it stuck to me. I used to wonder why anyone would say something so mean when I felt like I was such a nice person. Oh well -- all water under the bridge now and I am still a nice person.
As is typical with pre-teen girls, or maybe it was just me, I was discovering those weird feelings in my belly when it came to the opposite-sex. Every guy had suddenly become so interesting. Well, that's not entirely true because I actually had a lot of male friends. But I definitely felt unbelievable attraction to the ones that I didn't see as just friends. But it wasn't in the stars to be "liked" by boys in high school. No boyfriends to speak of. No romantic trysts. First kiss wasn't until I was 17 and it was not ideal. (That should be another writer's prompt.) I don't think I missed out on anything though. I always had dates to all the special events. I never went with the same guy to anything from Winterball and banquets to Prom. And no awkward meetings when I see friends from high school now and that's a plus.
Anyway -- this letter is the result of 30 years of living outside of the bubble of high school. The letter started out so much longer. This is the way condensed version. I stuck to the essentials. When I look at that picture of 13-year old me... see below... I look exactly the same except 30 years older. And I feel fabulous about 43-year old me. When you feel good, you look good.
***** LETTER TO MY 13-YEAR OLD SELF *****
Don't pay attention to any of the ugliness that people tell you. All that matters is that you are a child of the Most High.
You are sunbeams and fairy tales.
You are joy and happiness.
You are beautiful in spite of what people say.
You are gorgeous!
And when you're 43 and flawless, the guys that called you ugly will beg you for just a little bit of your time. They will send you letters they wish they had sent when they were busy calling you ugly. Don't worry your pretty little self about any of it. Even if you don't feel beautiful now, you will blossom in your own time.
You are so incredibly smart and kind.
You are so very talented and full of life energy.
At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what you think of yourself. So build up your own self-worth in your mind and in your heart. All those boys don't even matter. You got this.
43-year Old Neena