Dear High School Me
To preface this. I have been making some really positive changes in my life, especially in the last six months. While going through some older pictures, I started thinking back to how awful my high school years - “the dark years,” as I called them for most of my college career - felt for me. And so I started thinking of all the things I would tell High School Me if I could go back and talk to her. This barely scratches the surface of the things I would want to say, but here it is.
Dear High School Me,
Wow. College Senior Me is facing real life coming at me so fast. I’m cramming my entire minor requirement into one school year. I’m getting married in the spring. I’m getting surgery to get my wisdom teeth removed in the winter. I live in an awesome house with my soon-to-be husband, who isn’t perfect but is completely perfect for me, and our two cats (yeah, did you ever imagine YOU would own cats?). In general, I’m moving forward with my life and making leaps and bounds in so many ways – which leads me, naturally, to looking back.
I know exactly how you thought of yourself. Awkward, uncomfortable constantly, no backbone. “Fat” was a word that you used towards yourself a lot, and in the most harmful ways (and, honestly, that didn’t stop until about three months ago when College Me started doing something about it. It’s still an ongoing journey, High School Me, so don’t feel bad). And oh my goodness, that ACNE. It’s still not perfect but MAN am I glad it’s not as bad for College Me as it was for High School Me.
Sex was probably the least comfortable topic on the planet because you couldn’t fathom why anyone would want you that way, and let’s be honest, you were the single most innocent person in that group. Drinking? Nope. Smoking? Nope. Leaving the house in general unless forced? Nope. Putting some color into your wardrobe? HA! Nope.
You surrounded yourself with people who honestly weren’t going anywhere in their lives, because you didn’t know what direction you wanted for YOURS. College Me still has a few of those in my life but I’m weeding them out… and thankfully, a few members of that high school group DID change and are still around.
You went through this really awkward phase of wearing badly-applied, super-cheap eyeliner on ONLY your lower lashline because Mom told you that wearing it on the top made you look “easy” (but really, on JUST the lower line? WHO DOES THAT?). And speaking of Mom, holy wow. Those screaming matches. The constant bitching and bickering over grades and you swore up and down you were trying, but I know you weren’t. You didn’t care. You put yourself at war with pretty much the entire family because none of them “got” you, as far as you were concerned.
Did you ever think Mom would be College Me’s best friend, High School Me? Because she is.
And the problem wasn’t that THEY didn’t get you. The problem was that YOU didn’t. And you know what? Me neither. I still don’t understand a lot about myself. But you had so much going for you, and they saw it. The things that really screwed you were the things that you didn’t have.
You know what you didn’t have? Confidence. Love for yourself. A HEALTHY relationship with your faith, with God. Self-worth. A significant other who loved you in a constructive way. Friends who raised you up, rather than trying to force you down so you would stay at THEIR level and not YOUR potential.
I look back on so many of those pictures and I cringe. You dressed in a way that was an attempt to hide yourself, drowning in clothes stolen from boyfriends and baggy jeans to try and make yourself unnoticeable. You stood out like a sore thumb because the lack of confidence still comes through so clearly in those pictures. And at first I was embarrassed by those pictures, but now part of me just WEEPS for High School Me. The way you thought of yourself carried over to College Me at times, and it still rears up occasionally. But there was so much self-loathing there, such a strong sense of “not good enough.”
I’m looking through some of those pictures now, which is why I’m writing this at all. But you know what, High School Me? All the things you didn’t have are things that finally came to you in college. Some – like the confidence and self-worth – are still works in progress. But I just felt the need to reach back and remind you – remind myself – that as cringeworthy and painful as those years were for us, IT’S OKAY. Because High School Me was a vital part of who I am now.
I wish I could go back and tell you to hold your head up high, sweetheart, because if you could have seen where you would be four years later – if you could have seen where I am right now – maybe you would have been able to. Because it has gotten so much better, but I would never have appreciated it if it weren’t for you. So sorry for trying to stuff you in the closet as “the dark times” for the past three years.
It’s okay, High School Me, because you are still part of who I am. I feel like I can finally accept that.
College Me (and, I guess, College You).
any cookie is bite sized if you try hard enough
ANY COOKIE IS BITE SIZED IF YOU TRY HARD ENOUGH
NOT ALL COOKIES
OH MY GOODNESS