An Open Letter to My 12-Year-Old Self

An Open Letter to My 12-Year-Old Self

Everything will be OK, I promise.
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Dear Shannon,

Nine years later, I write to you expressing how far you've come, but how far you still have to go. You will be OK, so just try to keep that in mind.

First things first, you are not ugly. You may have a mouth full of braces and a bad haircut, but you are not ugly. You may have more boobs than the other girls around you at your age, you may have grown fast, and you may have the ugliest wire frame glasses that are too big for your face, but you are not ugly, no matter who says otherwise. People are cruel and say cruel things, but it's going to be OK.

You also are not fat. Your body is going through a lot of changes, and it's important to recognize that. You have curves in places you never did, and are still dancing and swimming 6 days a week. You are beginning puberty, but everyone will. You aren't fat just because your body is changing, and starving yourself now will only stunt your positive body image of yourself later on.

You are not unintelligent or unwanted. That math teacher who screams so loud, calls you dumb, and has pushed your classmates in chairs will soon be fired. You will realize your strengths in writing and reading can be utilized and everything will be OK.

You will be loved. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but one day. Multiple times. The boys who reject you now will soon be irrelevant and you have plenty of time. Don't rush anything. Your first kiss story will be utterly hilarious, it's worth the wait. One day you will be held like in those really cheesy Twilight books you're reading. One day can wait though, so please try and enjoy childhood.

You will go through bigger problems than not having the same UGGs and Hollister jeans as everyone else. Plus, those will be disgustingly out of style soon anyway. You will grow stronger from the mistakes you will make, your brothers will make, your friends will make, and your parents will make. You will be broken-hearted, and you will break hearts. You will leave people behind. However, I promise you will find a new path, and it will lead you on.

You will see amazing things. You will go to Mexico, Ireland, Northern Ireland, France, and England. You will travel and continue to travel. The world isn't centered in that tiny bully-centralized grade-school in Cincinnati, OH.

You will change. You will be popular, unpopular, a hipster (you'll know what that means later), preppy, a partier, and eventually, you'll just be the best you. You are made up of all of those changes and the good and bad that comes with them. Embrace each and every one.

You will learn a lot, but try and learn more. It will improve much of your life.

Shannon, you need to trust your gut. If something feels right, do it no matter how hard it is. Keep loving others. Keep making mistakes, because you have a big future in them. That's life. But in the darkest times when you want to end it all, there is hope. There is always someone there who loves you, like Mom and Dad.

You have so much ahead of you, but don't grow up yet. Just enjoy being 12. Just enjoy being a kid, because once it's gone, you'll give anything to get it back.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Why You Should Bring Your Close Friend As Your Formal Date

Before asking that cute girl to formal think about asking a friend

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Every year since I was a junior in high school I have always looked forward to homecoming or prom. When I got to college I began to look forward to my fraternity formal. I was never concerned with what to wear or the expense of formal but rather who I was going to ask. It can be difficult to make a decision. If you ask anyone friends with me they will tell you how I am one of the most indecisive people out there. There are so many people I am friendly with or have a close relationship that it can feel difficult to make a decision. But let's look at that phrase again. You might think why does he want to bring someone who is his friend to his fraternity formal rather than someone he likes or is dating. To answer this question, some of the girls I have liked I have not been able to be the true me around and that also applies to the girls I have dated as well. I am different around my friends and I want someone to know the real me rather than me just having to pretend.

Maybe I am still experiencing the effects of a fun weekend but I have noticed that every formal or prom that I have brought a date with not only was a fun formal but interacted and connected well with my friends. That is the main thing I look for in a formal date, they need to be liked by my friends and many of them are still pretty friendly after the formal. You are spending the weekend with them and the drive down for you formal. There will be a lot of time spent with your date so it is important to bring someone you know you will have fun with. I am not saying that there isn't anything wrong with bringing someone else but I always found it best to bring a friend if you are not dating someone.

Think about the people you know you will always have fun with. This can be an indication of who you should bring and why but you should also think about the positives in this situation. Your fun and the time spent with the people should be prioritized before anything else. This event is about you and you should have someone with you that you know is fun to be around and someone you can enjoy yourself around along with your friends. Friends know you as well as you know yourself so there is not an idea of having to pretend to be someone else. The good thing about friends is that you do not run out of things to talk about and there is always something new to learn. Take your formal as a trip that you get to experience with the people closest to you. That is my take.

The key for me is to know that I will have fun with my date at formal. The drive to formal can be long and you are sharing a hotel room with your date along with spending time with them during the trip. I talk a lot. I want someone I know who I can carry a conversation with and will not just respond with words such as Yeah or Sounds good. I have always been able to remember not only my formals but specific parts of it as well. I think this is possible because of who I have brought and the memories I made with them.

Formals are important to everyone so think about who you want to spend that moment with. There is nothing wrong with bringing someone who you like but there also is nothing wrong with bringing a friend. Some people might bring someone they are dating but you should not have to compare yourself to other people. Do what makes you happy but remember this weekend is about you and you deserve to bring someone you will have fun with.

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