Dear Younger Me,
It’s the fifth grade. I walk beside you as you cross the fields at recess toward the handball court. You notice several girls in your class coupled with their boyfriends at the benches nearby. You decide right then and there that you are okay, and you feel like nothing is missing from your life. You’re right. You are beautiful, athletic, insanely smart, and creative. I know you feel a little insecure sometimes, especially when the boys tease you about your hair being short, but that’s okay. You are strong because you ignore them and keep going--and that’s important, that you keep going. For this reason, and for many others, I am proud of you.
I sit beside you on the bus. You’re on a camping trip later that year. You are smart to think it’s odd that PG is giving you so much attention on the ride up. You don’t know much about dating, but you know it feels weird that he asks you to be his girlfriend out of the blue. I’m not mad at you for saying yes. I’m glad that you don’t think you are beneath him, because you’re not. You have enough confidence to give it a try. I get why you pretend not to care when he breaks up with you three days later. It is embarrassing and you are confused, especially when you find out it was all a bet. And you know that feeling you have of there being something more to romance? There actually is. The fact that he thought you were so easily disposable proves that he does not know how much you are really worth, which he probably hasn’t been taught at this age. This, of course, doesn’t justify that he hurt you.
I stand over your shoulder in middle school as you spend a lot of your valuable class time writing letters to AG. You are extremely shy to talk to him face to face, but you are vulnerable in your letters, and that’s a good thing, especially coming from someone whose family has a practice of hiding their emotions. You have some confidence, because you imagine yourself being with him, and that’s good that you have some self esteem. I know it feels good to receive letters back, but you are too beautiful to be kept his secret. A few months later a friend tells you in class that he is dating someone else and you collapse at lunch. Even though your best friend Christian is blunt when he tells you to get up, I’m glad someone is there to push you along. I am here as well. I know you feel like your life is over, but it’s not. You are still beautiful and talented and your life is still worth living. I know you may have really wanted this opportunity, but you will be okay, I promise.
I stare out the bedroom window with you as you wait for DG to visit you. It is freshman year of high school. It’s around 9pm. He arrives and asks for a kiss through the window. You believe you can fix him, and that is why you spend hours doing his homework for him. I wish I could tell you that you don’t need to put that responsibility on yourself, and the fact that he allows you to do so should be a red flag. One day you discover that he’s been meeting up with his ex-girlfriend when you come across a picture on Myspace. I can feel your heart shattering--you feel like such a little kid compared to her. Although I know it’s hard not to compare yourself to her, it’s not fair to do that to yourself because you’re one of a kind and can’t be compared to any other girl on this earth. You notice how much of yourself you put on the backburner, and you go over all the things you’ve fallen behind on. This upsets you--and that’s good, because being in a relationship does not mean forgoing your responsibilities and desires.
Senior year. You stumble into your honor classes late nearly every day after walking RF to his class. You know it should be the other way around, but you do not demand respect for fear of losing him. You need not fear, for it would not be an unreasonable thing to ask. I lay in bed beside you as you find out over winter break that his is cheating on you with his ex-girlfriend. He blocks you on his AIM account and seems not to be concerned that any of your other friends might see his betrayal. You’re in complete disbelief that he has no problem embarrassing you like this. I want to hold you and lift that pretty face of yours. I want to tell you to get some fresh air and go out with Jade, your best friend, who keeps coming in to check on you; and that it’s okay to lose him because he has no regard for your heart or well-being; and that it is your senior year, a time for savoring relationships that will soon draw to an end and looking forward to following your dreams post-graduation. When the break is over, you see him at the lunch tables and confront him in front of his friend about his unfaithfulness. You are bold. I’m glad that you are sticking up for yourself and letting him know that what he did is wrong, even though he denies the truth. You take him back, but let him go after he cheats the second time. Smart move, love.
You’ve made it to college! It’s been a rough week. I sit beside you in the church pew as you listen to the sermon. You really don’t care about EB who approaches you after service, and I’m proud of you. You are not here for that. He offers to take you home, eagerly, but you are more tired than flattered. Somehow, you exchange numbers, and he expresses he likes you. You don’t know this, but he has a habit of doing this. That’s why his calls become less frequent the next month. He tells you he needs to stop seeing you to focus on his business, and you believe him, but you question it when you find out shortly thereafter that he is dating another woman--a woman with a child. You are smart for recognizing the contradiction. Later he asks you to give it another shot. You are so happy. I feel the ground crumble beneath your feet, however, when he denies being in his recent relationship. As much as you want to take him back, you know he is lying, and you know you’d have to pretend he isn’t in order to be with him again. You won’t do it. I’m so proud of you for not letting him back on those terms, especially when he cannot give you what you deserve: the acknowledgement of such a simple truth. I’m also proud of you for recognizing the lie that you should stay with him because he’s a Christian, when you’re not happy. You are right when you come to the conclusion that God would want you to be with someone who makes you happy. It’s true.
I want to apologize because I never told you how beautiful you are. You deserve to hear that truth every day of your life, no matter how anyone makes you feel. I love you.