I know you, young lady. I can hear your heart beating, sometimes in that irregular way, when that boy walks by. I know that you don’t make eye contact with him, at least not often, and if you do it’s by accident. I know how those braces make you feel, maybe some acne, or a little weight gain. Maybe all your friends made the team and you didn’t. Maybe you can’t wear the same clothes as the girls you are friends with-or the girls you want to be friends with. Perhaps you medicate yourself with food, or worse.
I know that your hormones and emotions are swirling like a hurricane in the pit of your stomach. You aren’t comfortable in your own skin; it feels itchy and ill-fitting right now. I know because I was once a teenage girl, too. The kind who fidgets and feels looked at when really no one is looking at all. The kind who was not brave, but terrified and sometimes lonely.
I might not share all of your experiences, but I share some of them. I was brace-faced. I battled acne that made me want to hide in bed. I put make-up on and washed it off sometimes more than four times in a single day. My parents were divorced. I missed my dad. I loved them both.
I hated the look of my nose and my strange legs in photographs. They always looked like they belonged on another body. My hair was too thick, too coarse, and there was so much of it. My first crush, who I met in the 5th grade, was the first boy to break my heart-more than once. I struggled to fit in, at least in my own mind.
I moved to a new school. I missed my friends so much it hurt. I was bullied by a big, mean girl. I struggled in Algebra. I cried in the bathtub. I wasn’t sure how I could pull myself out of bed for school. I hated everyone and felt angry, but I longed for everyone at the same time. I needed to be liked by someone, but would never allow a vulnerability to show. I see you young girl, and we share the same heart.
I know that you are in pain right now. Maybe your parents are divorced. Maybe you are between two households. Maybe your parents are not on agreeable terms. Maybe someone bullies you. Maybe you have a weight problem. Maybe you have a boy problem. Maybe some of your friends are not your friends at all. Sometimes, you think you hate yourself. I see you and I feel your heartbeat, young lady. My blood has pulsed through the same hallways of panic and loneliness and I wish I could hold your hand.
Dear teenage girl, your life is only beginning. You will not be the same girl you are now in the years to come. You will change and become a woman. One day, you will look around and realize that you are one of the grown-ups in the room. You will be confident and your skin will no longer itch or feel misshapen.
You will always remember that sad and inward girl you once were and she will make you compassionate toward others. She will give you the power to see the fragile nature of your fellow humans. The girl you once were, the one you hated to be, will one day give you insight and make you an interesting person.
Your life will not peak in high school. It will not matter what size you were, who you dated, how many friends you had, or if you had acne. What matters is that you survive and you move on to the places you are meant to be.
Dear teenager girl, being a teenager will not break you. Rise up and take heart, your life will move on to bigger and better events. Stay the course.
*First posted on Words by the Glass.