This hashtag, #DearMe, asks the question What advice would you give to your younger self? Here's some of what I would say (although I could probably go on and on)
You are a lot cooler than you probably think you are. I know sometimes you don’t fit in or you feel like kind of an outcast or you feel like your friends are fake or you don’t really have very many good friends. Just don’t forget about yourself, you can be your own friend and you should be. Work on cultivating your relationship with yourself; learn to love yourself. Find things that you like to do and do them, even if they seem nerdy or not cool. Spend time on things that you like to do, and spend time on getting better at the things you like and are passionate about. You like drawing, art, and crafts, you like the computer: spend time on that and totally nerd out on it! Find other people who like to do it and have them as friends.
You’re probably worried about not measuring up to some of the girls in your class or even some of your friends, but keep in mind that this is just a phase. Things that seem like a really big deal right now, in the grand scheme of things are not a big deal. I know you have a friend who seems like everyone likes her and she’s really pretty, and you probably think she’s a lot prettier than you, that she has a better body, that she has better hair and skin, that she’s tanner than you, she’s taller than you. She might be these things right now, but she won’t be that way forever. Remind yourself that her looks are not necessarily the ideal. Everyone is beautiful in their own way. Accept everyone’s bodies and everyone’s looks for the way they are. Seriously judge them only by their personality and what type of person they are.
I encourage you to keep being a weirdo, keep finding and hanging out with people who get you and who think that you’re funny. If you find somebody who you like hanging out with, you think they’re a good person, they laugh at your jokes, they think that you’re creative, and they’re willing to support you - hang on to those people. Anybody who doesn’t get you, who doesn’t seem like they’re on your team, then just move on and forget them.
Don’t overlook important things in life, things that other adults can agree are important. Things like learning. Just grab the reigns on your own learning and learn what interests you and learn it as hard as you can. School is something that probably seems like a waste of time, but it is something you have to go through, so if you’re having a hard time or you think you need help, if you don’t get a subject, then you need to take the initiative to find help for yourself. Nobody else is going to do that for you. It’s not anybody’s fault; it’s not your fault, it’s not your teacher’s fault. It’s just that your learning style is different from maybe the other people in your class, and that’s totally OK. Anybody who is a good teacher will help you, even if that means staying after school or coming in for some private sessions or something. Just don’t forget that that resource is there, and take advantage of it while you can. They’re there to help you and they want you to succeed.
Remember that adults can be a really good resource for you and they can answer a lot of questions that you have, because they’ve been through it. But you need to remember that adults don’t know everything, even if they act like they do, even if they say that they do, they don’t know everything and they don’t always know what they’re talking about. So ask questions, always ask questions, ask more questions. Be curious, be skeptical of what they tell you. Try to get more than one opinion and ask different people for their advice on things.
So don’t forget about the important things in life like learning. Also, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Health and wellness really are important. I know you hear that all the time, you hear all this talk about eating healthy and exercising. Well, you hear that from a lot of people and from a lot of different sources, so you can trust that it’s true. And I’ll tell you that it’s true. Watching what you eat, trying to eat healthy, learning about healthy foods, learning about eating right… The time you spend on that will only be good for you. Trying to learn and be better is always something you should strive for.
Don’t forget to be kind. Don’t forget to be kind. Always be kinder than necessary. Don’t lose your compassion. You know how to talk to people and how to talk to people so that they listen. You’re compassionate, you’re a good friend. You make people feel better about themselves and you help them, and that’s something that’s so important. You might think it just comes naturally and it’s not a thing, but it’s a really special gift that not everyone has. So don’t get jaded. Don’t let anybody convince you that being kind (while also standing up for yourself, of course) is always worth it.
That’s what I would tell you, younger Leiah. Be yourself, be a weirdo, take care of yourself and be your own best friend. You’re the only one you can rely on.
gifs were created here