You probably don’t recognize me with these little lines around my eyes and a figure that went south after giving birth to five children. There’s nothing to be ashamed of here; these lines by my eyes came from years of laughter and the scars on my belly are a badge of motherhood I proudly wear.
When you get into high school, stop worrying so much about what other people think and be who you want to be, not who you think your peers expect you to be. Embrace your individuality–it will be the ticket to your success one day.
Although the school years feel like nothing more than a popularity contest, in the end you’ll be happier sticking with a small circle of friends who love you for who you are. They’ll be the ones
holding a catcher’s mitt when life throws you some curve balls.
Forgiveness. This is a tough one for you, but the bitterness will only weigh you down. Let go of the anger you feel towards those kids who poke fun at you. What you don’t realize is how unkind their life is. Their spirit has been broken, and they’ve learned the hard way how to protect themselves by preying on vulnerable people like you
You waste too much energy berating yourself in front of the mirror. Society has fed you a warped perception of beauty–don’t let its definition convince you that you fall short of everyone else’s expectations. Stop punishing yourself with starvation diets and binge eating to mask what is really bothering you. The people who made you feel stupid and small inside were wrong. I know how much you’re hurting; you just haven’t figured out yet that inner beauty out lives physical beauty every time. The mirror is not your enemy; see yourself through your own eyes and know that others love you even though you don’t love yourself.
There will be some unimaginable losses in the years to come–don’t be afraid to face them head on. You’re going to walk through a valley of grief, but you’re going to come through the other side a stronger, braver woman. You’ll need these experiences to hold up the others when life knocks them down.
I know you feel as though your parents are judging every move you make, and you hate living under a microscope. Strict curfews, lost phone privileges and being grounded from social activities may seem unreasonable, but your parents really do have your best interests at heart. If they didn’t love you, they wouldn’t care what you did. Boundaries and rules are a sign of good parenting and tough love. You’ll figure this out once you have kids of your own.
Appreciate the time you have with your family. Those summer vacations in Montana won’t last forever. Take your father up on that trip to Scotland before it’s too late and spend more time in the garden with your sister. Don’t assume she’ll always be there for you because she won’t. She’ll be gone sooner than you think and her absence will leave a hole in your heart that time cannot mend.
You’re going to fall in love several times while you’re young, but be more conscious of the men you choose. Your happiness shouldn’t depend on them. One will break your heart and in the process break his own. Others will come and go, but each one will teach you a valuable lesson in love that will prepare you for the man you’re going to marry. Stay away from the sly one at the bar who asks you to dance. Nothing good will come from this. His lies will hurt you more than his fists. He’ll tear you down to keep you from standing back up but you will. You are a survivor. One day you’ll meet your soul mate, and he’ll help you find your smile again.
Life is full of twists and turns; don’t be afraid to stray from the well-worn path that everyone else is walking. Embrace the challenges you’ll face and don’t let the fear of failure box you into years of regret. How will you ever learn anything if you never make a mistake? Trust your intuition, listen to your heart and fight hard for what you believe in. Stop wasting precious time running down hollow streets in search of happiness. You’ll find it’s been inside you all along.
Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. Slow down and enjoy the ride. Even though you are struggling with some tough, emotional issues, each experience is a small piece of the puzzle, a composition of the beautiful person you’ll become. Every day will be your happiest–live life to the fullest. It will never be this way again.
This piece was originally published in Maria’s Book Who Stole My Spandex.