I wish I could write a letter to pre-teen and teenage me, seriously. There’s so much I would tell myself to make it easier to get through those years. While I had good friends and was a good kid, I think I was too afraid, too shy, too reserved and took way too much crap from too many people. I just rode the wave and let fear hold me back. I could kick myself for at least a dozen decisions. I can’t change my past. I can’t go back and have a re-do. So I wrote a letter to my mini-me, Grace. I haven’t given it to her yet. She won’t understand most of it. I just know she won’t want to listen to any advice from me once she reaches that age, and I would make her teenage years as easy as I can, given the chance.
I hated my shy self. I was crippled with fear…fear of failing, fear of not being good enough, fear of being laughed at, fear of people finding out that I wasn’t half the package they saw. I kept waiting for the bottom to drop out. I lived in a shadow. I let myself be satisfied with second place because I felt that was all I deserved. I let my friends and acquaintances put me in a box, labeled a certain way. I stayed in that box because it was safe. When I finally did venture out, I paid a steep price that further damaged my self-esteem. You couldn’t pay me enough money to go back and do high school over again.
I have dreams for my little girl. I know I can’t relive my life through her, but oh how I would do everything in my power to make those years so much better for her than they were for me. I try to instill confidence in her. I try to build the communication lines that will be so important as she gets to her teenage years. I try to let her know that she can be whatever and whoever she wants to be. At the same time, I need her to realize that she cannot be a mean girl. I won’t tolerate it.
How do you make it better for them? I watched High School Musical with her and ended up a bucket of tears. She looked at me in wonder and asked why I was crying. I told her I was sad she was growing up so quickly and that someday all too soon, she’s going to be in high school, then falling in love for the first time and possibly getting her heart-broken by some boy. I couldn’t even let myself think about all the other horrible things that could possibly happen to her, or that she could get into. How do I guide her through those years without pushing her away? How do I start preparing her now to be her own person with self-confidence, and strength and compassion?
My letter to her ended up being six pages long. I have no idea when, or even if, I’ll give it to her. But I was compelled to write it. Maybe it was just a letter to my teenage self in the guise of advice and guidance for her. I know I can’t save her every pain and heartache. I can’t keep her from all the angst of the teenage years. High school is a rite of passage. I’d just like to make that passage as easy as possible. I’d have her be everything I wasn’t….confident, strong, self-assured, not afraid to try new things, not afraid to stand her ground, not afraid to dig in and enjoy the experience.