So while you guys were probably with friends and family this weekend, barbequing or spending one last day at your lake house, I was busy having no life and cleaning my bedroom. Whenever I’m stressed or bored or hating my life, I usually clean. It might be weird, but it’s a better coping mechanism than doing heroin, so I win.
Anyway, as I worked my way towards some degree of tidy, I discovered a pile of dusty books underneath my bed. I sorted through what could get tossed and what should be put on my shelf and came across an old diary of mine that spanned from 8th grade until my sophomore year of high school. I couldn’t help but dive into my writing to see what I was happening to Young Katie week by week.
I spent the rest of the afternoon engrossed in the writings of the life of a person who I didn’t know anymore. I almost felt like I was committing some sort of crime, like this diary was not mine but some other young girl’s. I read of funny memories and old friends and kisses I had forgotten about. Though some entries were beyond ridiculous and made me wonder for my sanity at the age of 15, some of the entries were quite sad. Sentences such as, “I hate my body” or “No guy will ever like me because ______” graced many of the pages of my diary. How could I have been so negative and down on myself? Granted, there are times now at the age of 23 where I still find myself saying these things to myself. It hurt my heart to read such things, written by a young girl who should have been out playing kickball and giggling with her girlfriends at sleepovers.
While reading these pages I had inked up years ago, all I wanted to do was talk to my younger self. As a twenty-something, I know that I still have a lot left to learn, and I am nowhere near being wise and experienced, but I can give advice to a young girl going through the motions of high school and puberty. So for this week’s column, I wanted to take a different approach and write a letter to my younger self — a letter I wish I had been able to read while I was trying to stumble my way through adolescence.
To My Younger Self,
Right now, I have a feeling you’re upset over something that won’t matter in the long run, but I understand why you’re scared or nervous. And that’s okay. But I wish you could know that everything is going to be okay.
That guy you “fell in love with” on your first day of high school is going to fall in love with you too…about 6 years later, so just take a chill pill on that whole thing. You’ll come to be with him in good time. And in regards to that relationship, I won’t give too much away; you can experience that for yourself. And when it comes to boys in general, you need to remember that they cannot be your only source of happiness. You need to be in love with yourself first before you fall in love with someone else. And when Joe, Jack and Jerry all decided that they don’t want to love you anymore, you’re going to be okay. Even though the thought of the world continuing to turn seems impossible, it will.
So the next time you start to fall for a guy, make sure you guys are on common ground. Never agree to something that you’re not happy with. Demand the best for yourself and never falter from that. You’re worth everything you need to be happy in a relationship. If he is not willing to put in the effort for you, love, then turn the other cheek and tell him goodbye. Another one will come along shortly.
And on another note, I know you think you’re fat. I know you hate your thighs and your belly and you are convinced you have the dreaded muffin top, but I need you to know that it doesn’t matter. So stop obsessing over food. Stop analyzing every single nutrition fact sheet. It doesn’t matter how many calories are in a stick of gum or how a croissant has more carbs that are “allowed” in a typical day. Eat the croissant! You’re going to drive yourself insane wishing that you could be thinner. I want you to stop comparing yourself to your “skinnier” friends who never work out a day in their lives, eat till they puke and still are a size 0.
You think no guy will ever look at you, but I bet you a million dollars that they will. You’re going to have guys like you despite the fact that you have a bit more meat on your bones, and that’s a good thing. Starving yourself until you feel like you can’t stand up or even stay awake will just lead you down a road toward self-destruction. So instead of refusing dinner or weighing yourself every morning and night, just stay healthy and take care of yourself. No one is perfect, and you need to accept yourself. I promise that you will not “die alone a big obese loser that has never been loved,” as you so sweetly wrote about us in 2005, and spoiler alert: guys will actually fall in love with you. Pretty cool, right?
Lastly, remember that your parents are on your side. I know that sometimes they ask too many questions and continually cross the privacy boundaries; they only do this because they love you. They do understand you and want the best for you. They are not out to ruin your life. Mom and Dad are your biggest cheerleaders and will love you more than anyone ever will in your life. So instead of slamming your bedroom door in their face when they want to know how school was or what grade you got on your math test, cut them a little bit of slack and grace them with a bit of your time. The moments spent with them will become more and more rare the older you get, and believe it or not, you’re going to miss them when you go away to college. Never forget to appreciate your parents. They are your biggest fans.
I guess I just wanted to write you to let you know that while things can get hairy at times, they usually have a way of working out. Don’t be afraid of change. Make sure to take some risks. You’ll probably lose some friendships along the way and that will hurt, but I promise that you’ve yet to meet some amazing people too. I just want to tell you that things are going to be okay. Don’t worry about your weight or your freckles or that guy in your chemistry class. Everything will happen for a reason. Every mistake you’re going to make (and sorry to say, you’re going to make some major ones) is one step towards learning and discovering who you are. So just slow down a little and enjoy the ride. Don’t rush growing up because even when you’re a twenty-something, you’ll still feel like a little kid sometimes. You’ll still be trying to figure it all out. Good luck, younger self.