Dear 10-year-old me,
I’m writing to you now, 12 years later, because I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately. I’ve been trying to remember how you thought of the world, and more importantly, what you would have thought of me. Would you be proud? Am I doing everything you would have wanted? I hope so. I’m not perfect, but I hope you’re satisfied—if nothing else, my life’s experiences have made me realize just how far I’ve come since I was you and just how much can change over 12 years.
I could ask how you’re doing, but it’s a stupid question—I know how you’re doing.
You’re 10 years old, still relatively new to your school, and you don’t really have many friends. Most of the kids your age make fun of you because they think you’re weird, and so you spend your recesses playing with your little sister instead.
I get it. I remember.
So I guess I’m writing to tell you that things are going to change. A lot is going to change, in fact.
Eventually, you are going to make friends. No, not a lot of them, but some, and the ones you make are going to be good ones. They’re going to be kind and funny, and they’re going to introduce you to a lot of new and amazing things. Life is going to get better for you, I promise.
And those parts of you that everyone dismisses as “strange” and “unlikeable” now? They’re the things that are going to make you special someday: your imagination, your enthusiasm, your passion.
Don’t give up on them. Don’t allow others to chip away at your uniqueness and shape you into something more acceptable, more palatable. Because someday, you’re going to need your strangeness so that you can stand out, so that you can say something new that might actually help someone. The world needs strange people, even if it isn’t always accepting of them.
Over the next few years, you’re going to be told a lot of things, 10-year-old me. You’re going to be told the proper way to act, the proper way to live your life, and you’re going to need the confidence to know when to take what someone says seriously.
There is no one proper way to live your life, and teachers don’t always understand that, but you’re going to learn it someday. You’re going to come to see that there are no simple steps to a fulfilling life; you just need to figure it out along the way, and the only surefire step that will keep you from a fulfilling life is giving up parts of yourself. Teachers will encourage you to do that. They’ll tell you that parts of you are wrong, that you need to learn to be more practical, more focused on making money than anything else, and although this is a lot of weight to put on your tiny shoulders, you are going to need the strength to stand up to them and say “no.”
Oh, 10-year-old me, there are so many things that I want to warn you about, and so many things that I can’t wait for you to experience. But if I could give you another piece of advice, it would be just this: talk.
When you’re 16 years old, someone is going to break your heart, and you’re going to have a hard time getting over it because that someone is going to be of your own gender, making you feel like you have no one to talk to about it. But you do.
It won’t always be obvious, but you have a fantastic support network around you that wants to help you through things exactly like this. You’re going to learn that when you’re 18, and you lose a year of your life wallowing in depression, and the only way you can pull yourself out of it is by reaching out to someone, and by talking.
The way you feel is not wrong, 10-year-old me. It’s just another part of you.
And when you stop forcing yourself to feel ashamed of it, you’re going to realize that. You’re going to have a much easier time managing it.
You’re going to spend a lot of time stressed over the future for the next little while, but don’t bother. It will all work itself out. Things will fall into place the way that they are supposed to, just so long as you trust yourself and allow yourself to be who you truly are.
An older version of you that still has so much left to learn, herself.
Author: Ciara Hall
Image: Rul Barros/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina