Dear Teenage Me,
Two weeks ago was my 20th High School Reunion. I couldn’t go, but thanks to the marvels of the internet (you’ll find out what that is in a few years), I got in touch a number of the girls you know now. Girls I felt rejected by, girls I admired from a distance but was too afraid to befriend, girls I was jealous of. I was stunned that a few of them contacted me with some of their memories of me at that time. How I wish I could whisper back in time and share some of that perspective with you.
As I’ve mulled over what twenty-years-older-me wants to say to twenty-years-younger-you, I don’t want to give away the things you can learn only by experience. This is not a fortune-telling letter. Que Sera Sera. But without giving anything away, I want to say this to precious, anxious, lonely you:
Those kids you are afraid of, are afraid too.
Those girls whose bodies you envy, are not happy with their bodies either.
Those kids who look so happy while you feel so alone, struggle too.
That group you wish you belonged to is made up of people who aren’t sure where they belong either.
Those girls you think are prettier than, or smarter than, or better liked than you, are not judging you by the same yardstick. Just because you think they’re prettier doesn’t mean they think you’re unattractive. Just because you think they’re smart doesn’t mean they think you’re dumb. In fact, those kids probably see things in you that they wish they had, and they hope you won’t judge them for the deficit.
Those little efforts you are making to make a difference and be a person of character, will be remembered in ways you cannot imagine. Even if you are not “making it big” socially, your small words of kindness are making a big difference to a few. Trust me. Trust me.
You will make friends who see you for who you are and love you for who you are. If you don’t feel that way now, trust me – it’s coming. Keep on being a good friend in the mean time.
Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes in front of other people. Sometimes the very best friendships come out of the moments when someone realizes you were “just as awkard as they feel”. Showing your vulnerability makes you a safe person for other broken people to trust.
You don’t have to “shine” to belong. You already belong. Just be.
You are loved more than you could possibly imagine.
Your body is made for more than looking at. It is strong and amazing and is yours to LIVE your life in and enjoy.
Your life has a purpose.
Your gifts will make a difference.
That verse you learned from Philippians 1:6 will show itself to be true again and again: “He who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” God is not finished with you yet. You’re a work in progress and He’s making something beautiful. You belong to Him, and no matter what life throws at you, you can’t go wrong with that.
It’s going to be okay.
This is day 22 of 31 Days of Belonging, a writing challenge for the month of October. I chose the topic of “belonging”. For a complete list of posts in this 31 day-madness, please click here.