We all have stuff we would go back and say to our younger, greener selves if we could. This is my letter to the 11 year-old girl who used her pain as a weapon and didn’t see a way out.
1 | It isn’t normal to hurt this much while you’re this young.
Ask for help and use your words. Stop trying to draw cryptic clues in the sand for other people to find – they’re not looking. But someone might help you stop hurting if you ask.
2 | I know it sucks that your best friend is moving on.
I know you feel alone. That’s kind of how a lot of friendships are (sorry) – you get to be around someone for awhile and then, at some point, they’re not a part of your life anymore. But you’re about to make friends with a girl in PE who’s still in your life 14(!) years later. Long-term friendships exist, just not with everyone you meet.
3 | Stop hurting yourself to make other people feel bad.
They won’t notice. And your pain isn’t a good weapon.
4 | Your parents love you.
They’re doing the best they can.
5 | You’ve seen so little of the world and experienced so few things.
And you’re going to keep meeting new people, learning new things, and getting better as you grow up. I know your world seems small and dark right now, but killing yourself isn’t going to solve anything. Finding people who love you and learning how to cope with your life will.
6 | Keep questioning things and doing the “weird” stuff that you believe in.
Go vegetarian, cut out religion, write for fun. You’ll find out that the stuff you believe in the most is the stuff that will stick, no matter what anyone else says about it.
7 | Lean into the things that make you truly happy.
Christmas lights, books, pop music, writing. Seriously, don’t hide that stuff. You’re not doing anything wrong by liking something harmless. (And, on that note, reading isn’t dumb. It’s okay to be a nerd.)
8 | Fuck that girl who tells you to kill yourself everyday at lunch.
It will seem obscenely clear later that she bullied you because her life was a wreck, but don’t waste your empathy on her. You have better ways to spend your energy than feeling bad about yourself over a few words from a sixth grade bully.
9 | Stop dumbing yourself down to make other people more comfortable.
It won’t work and you’ll waste way too much time being some mediocre version of yourself.
10 | Getting “skinny” won’t solve your problems.
It won’t make people like you. It won’t even make you like yourself. But trying to get thinner will squeeze every last ounce of joy out of your life. It will make you terrified to eat even a mushroom. It will make sure that the only thing you remember from this year of your life is the number of calories you ate every day and the number of inches your wrist was around at your thinnest. It will destroy your body and your life.
The only way out – recovery – is going to take a lot of time and work, but you will be grateful for it every day of your life. Be gentle with yourself. You have a long fucking road ahead (but it will be worth it).
11 | Nothing is easy, but things can get better if you put the work in.
I know you don’t believe me, but I hope you will if I say it again: It gets better. It gets better. It gets better. Not by itself – honestly, things usually get worse if you leave them alone. But when you do the work every day, things can (and will) get better.