This is for you.
The adult in the mirror that you can’t see because the shadow of your younger self eclipses who you’ve blossomed into.
This is for the beautiful you. The accomplished, talented, you. The grown-ass, fierce, and resilient you—who smashed your childhood insecurities into the ground but still can’t fully give yourself credit.
This is for you.
This is for the fat kids. The ones who could never buy the “cool” clothing, because it just wasn’t made in their size. The ones whose stomachs turned flips every time they had to change clothes in the locker room for gym. Or wear a bathing suit in public. The ones who never made it to the top of the jungle gym at recess. The ones who walked the mile instead of ran it. The ones who tried out for the team, but didn’t make it. The ones who were afraid to eat at parties in fear that someone would call them out for being the “big-eater.”
This is for the kids who had frizzy hair and skin scarred with acne. The ones who didn’t have an affluent family. The ones everyone had a nickname for—and it wasn’t complimentary. This is for you.
This is for all the men who were once boys and were told they weren’t tough enough. The ones who were told not to cry. The ones who learned too early that soft stuffed animals and cuddly blankets had to be put away, because they were for babies and girls.
This is for all the men who’ve been laughed at, embarrassed, or rejected by a woman for showing them their hearts. This is for all the boys who have been conditioned to believe that loving is weak and indifference is strength.
This is for the boy inside of every man, the one who wants desperately to provide and protect, but has to stifle and stuff their emotional self to do so.
This is for the boys who weren’t tall enough for basketball and who weren’t big enough for football. This is for the boys who didn’t care about sports at all, but forced themselves to learn team names and stats just so they would fit in. This is for the boys who prefer dancing. The boys who are scared of snakes, mice, and bugs. This is for the boy who wanted to ask the girl why she was crying, but pulled her hair instead. This is for the boys who became men—who fall down, fail, and lose big, but can’t ever tell anyone that it hurts. This is for you.
This is for the girls.
This is for the girls who developed too early and became women who slump their shoulders and can’t wear high heels. This is for the women who never physically developed the way that society told them they should. This is for the ones who have “huge boobs” or “itty bitty titties.” This is for the ones who will never have hips or flat stomachs. This is for the girls who have listened to others describe them by the size and shape of their breasts, ad nauseam. Or the size and shape of their bodies: She’s a big girl. She’s so tiny.
This is for the girls who have shrunk at the tags and marks of others so many times that it seems impossible to find their worth outside of their bodies. This is for the girls who starve, who deprive themselves of food every day, because they just want to be seen. This is for the girls who stuff themselves on pizza, who can’t face the world, because they don’t feel safe to be seen.
This is for the girl who can do amazing things but goes unrecognized, because she is shamed for claiming her power.
This is for the women who grew up as daddy’s girl and mommy’s helper. The ones who only know how to outsource themselves for validation. This is for the girls who’ve struggled for years to be everything, but were conditioned to be everything for someone else. The ones who were taught that sacrifice, generosity, and forgiveness were for your loved ones and your family, but not for yourself.
This is for the girl who stays quiet about her pain and the one that doesn’t. This is for the girls who learned to live in fear of men and the ones who learned to imitate them. This is for the girls who couldn’t wait to have babies and the ones who couldn’t wait to have freedom. For the ones who learned to change diapers and the ones who learned to change their own oil.
This is for the girls who wanted to have the best winged eyeliner and the ones who wanted to be the best on the boys hockey team. This is for the girl who loves easily, like it’s fresh air, and for the one who runs far from love, like it stings. This is for you.
This is for the rebel kid. The one who was always in trouble. This is for the kid who everyone said was a loser. The one who slept too late. The one who couldn’t live up to their potential. The one who was lazy and unmotivated by adult standards.
This is for the kid whose parents told him he was no good. This is for the kid who didn’t fit inside anyone’s box, who did things the way that he wanted to, in his own time. This is for the kid who no one believed in, so he learned to believe in himself. For the kid who tried temporarily to do and be all the things everyone was asking of her, but recognized that it just didn’t feel right.
This is for the kid who grew into the man or the woman who is not afraid to disagree. That knows the depths. That fell hard and didn’t have the right resources to help them. The kid who, as an adult, is comfortable in solitude.
This is for the kid who made a mistake. A big one. One that no one is willing to forget or forgive. The one that presumably derailed his life. But he was just a kid, learning.
This is for the kid who either always wanted to fight you, or always wanted to hide from you. This is for the kid who was was a freak, who liked skateboarding or manga or was just f*cking shy.
For the visionary who dreamed up the impossible and had the capability to accomplish it. For the one who had the best music but not the best friends. For the experimenters and the boundary pushers.
This is for the kid who no one wanted to admit that they liked. The kid who learned not to care about anyone’s opinion but her own. This is for you.
And this. This final one is for the kid who was perfect. The kid who had privilege and talent and success right from the get-go. This is for the kid who everyone wanted to be. It’s for the kid who was drowning under pressure. The one who coveted perfection more than relationships. The one who had bad days and fat days and failures too, but could never be validated because his or her life was…perfect.
This is for the kids who worked their butts off. The ones who took more than pride in their image and the public’s perception of them. The ones who grew up to do everything right and who still never feel complete. This is for the Type-A’s and the doers. The ones who seek and seek, and perform and perform.
This is for that kid who grew into an adult and got the life kicked out of him when he realized there was no finish line; there is no competition. This is for the perfect kid who grew into an average adult and worries every day that they’ve left their shine somewhere behind them in the glory days.
This is for the kids who had it all and are just waking up to realize that maybe all that they had was a lie. This is for the kid who had everything, that got everything they dreamed of, and it still wasn’t enough. Or it stopped being enough when the world decided to pause. This is for the kid who thought if he jumped through every hoop, he would be immune to the pain of life. This is for the kid who is a disillusioned adult.
Perfect people, this is for you.
If you sit down at the table and wage a silent war with that inner fat kid, I hear you.
If you can’t meet your own eyes in the mirror without judgement, I see you.
Pinching at your belly for ab muscles, scrutinizing the flesh of your upper arm. Just a little bit more to go. Just a little bit less would be better.
If you’re wondering why you can’t be just like your dad, at the same time hoping you never are, you are not alone.
If it’s exhausting to be and meet all the demands of being a man, we are here to finally hold you.
If you struggle every day with the conflict of being an independent woman, but also not wanting to deny your own needs, I got you, sis.
If you’re tired of seeing yourself through everyone else’s eyes that only see you as a failure, oh my goodness, you’re not. If you’ve lost yourself and your purpose, you’ll find it again, sweetheart. Everything in this world is designed to tell you that there is something wrong with you if you didn’t, if you couldn’t, look and be the ideal—and it hurts.
That kid inside of you is relentless and loud. It remembers the trauma. It reminds you to fear food. To shame your feelings. Your body. Your choices. To seek comfort in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. The kid inside of you remembers how less-than you felt, how your family made side-glances when you took a second helping, or how you used to get out of breath bending over to put on your shoes.
That kid still remembers the liquid-hot fire blazing in your chest when you were rejected. When the other kids at school said such deeply unkind things, or your parents struggled a moment too long to say something redeeming about you. When your dad told you that you talked too much. When your mom told you that you weren’t as smart as your sibling. When your teacher told you that you weren’t good enough and you should get extra help. When your friends teased you for dating that less-than perfect girl. When your boyfriend told you that you’d be prettier if you ate a few cheeseburgers and filled out.
You remember. We’ve all experienced these. That kid inside of you is holding onto all of your fear, like grandma holds her rosary—clutched in her hand and tight to her chest, desperate for that prayer to be answered. That’s your inner kid. And, it lies.
So, this is for you. The grown you, the adult you. The one who has done all the work and fought the good fight all of these years.
You are not that kid anymore.
You are not the fat kid.
You are not the little boy who was shamed.
You are not the little girl who was victimized.
You are not the f*ck-up.
You are not perfect.
You will never be perfect, you are better than that.
You are human.
Are you getting this?
Are you crying?
Let it go.
This is for you. This is for beautiful you. Accomplished, talented you. Grown-ass, fierce, and resilient you. The one who survived and grew into: a man, a woman, a mother, a father, a boss-babe, a skilled laborer, a creator, a lover, a provider, a protector, a dream catcher.
Look over your shoulder at the wounded kid’s shadow in the mirror and tell him or her that they’ve done enough.
You can eat now. You can take care of yourself. You can love and be loved for who you are. You can be brave and scared, both. You are strong. You know this. You did this. You are safe. You can give yourself credit for all of the amazing things that you’ve lived through—and really, truly, own them. The world stopped just to give you this.
Love yourself right now. See yourself right now.
This is for you. This is for me. This is for all of us.
This is for you.