My 21-year-old self is a lot different than my 12-year-old self ever imagined. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I turned out to be better than I ever thought I would, but I wish 12-year-old me could've known that. After thinking more about it, there are a lot of things that I wish I could tell my 12-year-old self. If I had known some of the things I know now, middle and high school probably would've been a lot better. (I mean, yeah, that's the point of going back in time, to make the past and future better, but still.) I'm sure we all wish we could go back in time and tell our past selves some things to make life easier.
As a bit of a backstory, 12-year-old me was just starting middle school after six years of homeschooling. At this age, I didn't know I had anxiety, but I did. Starting school with no friends was absolute hell. I was so anxious about going that I would get physically ill every single morning before school. This went on for a few weeks. It was so bad that I wanted to quit, but my dad told me it would get better and to give it time, so I did. He was right. It did get better. Even after the vomiting and daily breakdowns stopped, I was still too nervous and shy to talk to anyone to make friends. Honestly, I got along with my teachers better than I got along with my classmates. My teachers were all so understanding and supportive of my situation. (They were so supportive that I still talk to some of them now!) Okay, so 12-year-old me had a tough time starting school, but things got better. After that struggle, there are a lot of things I wish I had known...
1. Time fixes things.
2. Talking to people won't kill you. It might make you uncomfortable, but it won't kill you.
3. You don't have to be friends with someone just because they're nice to you.
4. You don't have to be friends with someone just because everyone else is.
5. Boys suck. Don't even worry about boys right now.
6. You're attracted to girls. No, that's not weird. Stop repressing it. You'll thank me later.
7. You don't have to wear makeup to be pretty.
8. You're so much more than pretty. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
9. You don't have to shave your legs (or any part of your body) just because all the other girls do. Yeah, that girl in PE cringed and asked why you didn't shave that one time, but so what? It's not her body.
10. You can say no.
11. You can say yes.
12. Integers aren't that hard.
13. Mom and Dad know what's best for you right now.
14. You'll meet your best friend soon, and she'll be the best part of your life for so many years to come.
15. Being friends with your teachers isn't weird.
16. Go to the library more!
17. You don't have to try so hard to fit in.
18. Stop trying to be sexy. You're literally 12.
19. Seriously, liking girls is okay. It doesn't mean you're a lesbian, it just means you aren't straight.
20. Hey, you're pansexual. Let's figure this out early to save future us (me? you?) some work.
21. Things get better.
22. Middle school isn't hard. High school isn't hard. College isn't hard. Life, on the other hand, is hard. Get used to it.
23. True love exists, and you're going to find it.
24. Do what makes you happy.
25. Take time for yourself.
26. You'll grow. You'll grow so much in so many ways, and you'll love yourself. You may not love who you are right now, but you'll love who you become.
All of these things may seem like a lot to want to tell a 12-year-old, but they're so important. These are all important things for anyone of any age to understand. Honestly, I wish I could've told myself most of these things every single year of my life. Starting public school at 12 was such a shock, but it helped me become who I am today. Being 12 was hard. Being any age is hard. Growing up is hard. Time travel isn't a thing yet, so we can't go back and tell our past selves what the future will hold, but we can tell other people that things will be okay. We can tell them all the things that we needed to hear when we were younger or in a similar situation.
I guess this isn't so much an open letter to my past self but an open letter to anyone who needs to hear any of the things my past self needed. Growth is weird, but I love it.