Here’s a letter to myself, circa age 14. Great exercise, an act of compassion to feed all of you.
Thanks to this gorgeous annual blog project, Teen Week: Words That Heal, for the inspiration to speak out about body image, sexuality, and self-esteem in our teen years.
- how deep your beauty. It’s waaaay deeper than the jeans that barely cover your ass, worn so tight that men stop on the street and whistle, low, sounds and stares that make you feel powerful for the first time in your life. You see it reflected in car windows, in certain faces. Can you feel it inside?
- how deep your soul. It’s so big and sensitive and open-hearted that you had to hide it away, to survive. Only you don’t know it exists. But everyone else can see it. That spark is there, glowing, waiting for you, whispering, filling you with joy when you dance or draw or the rare times when you’ll let yourself sing. Listen. Follow it when you can.
- how deep your intelligence. You may not give a damn about school in general, but notice how you make connections between things. You get it. Notice how your teachers appreciate your presence. Soak it up.
- how deep your love. They care, your family. They love you, but you can’t see that yet. Try to show them your love, just a little. Your girlfriends care, too. Notice the guys who are drawn to you. Ask your bound-up heart to feel whether they are right for you. Or not.
- how deep your strength. You have survived so much. There is more. Even though you may feel like a victim, rejoice in your resilience, your backbone.
- how deep your gifts. You have great capacity to make things of beauty: writing, art, dance, music. It can be hard to bear these gifts, but they carry your spark — now and in the future.
I ache with love for who you are. And hope this reaches you, my darling one.
What would you say to your teen self?