children of yesterday who still live inside each and every one of us.
You can't force something to fit in when it was born to stand out.
Well, at least that is what I tell myself every day when reality rears its head and again shows me just how different I am from others. I celebrate this now. I didn't always. Especially through parts of my scholastic career- mainly middle and high school. Though I can say, looking back now, I feel proud of the way I handled those tumultuous times. I didn't realize then how much I was shaping my world of today - not by anything I actually studied in books - but what I learned from handling situations that should have put me into therapy for years. The lesson that took me seventeen years to fully appreciate.
It is a lesson that I wish I could travel to every single school and announce loudly over the PA system or better yet into the ear-buds of every single school age child. It is a lesson with many facets. Intricate, yet simple. So, seeing that I can't figure out a way to take-over all the ear-buds in the world, I shall write a letter. I will address it to my younger self, because when you boil it down - the basic principles of life haven't changed. Everyone wants to matter. Everyone wants to fit in. From the children of today to the children of yesterday who still live inside each and every one of us.
A lesson I wish someone had told me back then.
I saw you walking home from the bus stop after school with downcast eyes and sagging shoulders. They teased you again today. Though you held your head up at the time, refusing to show the pain their words inflicted, I know you were breaking inside. I know you were taking their taunts and weaving them into your own, which always run on repeat inside your head.
I saw you this morning looking into the mirror, echoes of the insults and comments ringing in your mind. The tears that you refuse to shed now glistening in your eyes, as you see yourself, not as you really are, but as they say you are - in your reflection. Still you repeat the words over-and-over again. Knowing that they must be true. You begin to torment yourself, harsher words than even the kids at school said. They can't hurt you any worse than you hurt yourself every single day.
Stop starring into that mirror and only seeing what they say is there. Just stop. Look into the mirror and see the fierceness in your eyes - that spark. For it is that spark that they are afraid of. The spark that money can't buy. They fear it and will do their damnedest to blow it out. You must never let that happen.
Younger self, though no one will confirm it, well some may try to, but you won't believe them, you do in fact matter. Even if right now you feel as if you have no say, no control or no power, you do. In fact, you have more than most. You must understand this first piece of knowledge I hand down to you - You do matter. A lot. You matter to the most important person in the whole world - You matter to you. I know the words and actions of others hurt. I know that no one supports you. Not at home and not out in the world. I know that you feel that you are on your own and in reality - you are. Instead of being ashamed of that, see how strong this makes you. I know all you want to do is fit in. But, you never will. You were never supposed to. You are supposed to stand out.
Understand younger self, that people in this world fear things that are different. They will try to destroy things that they perceive as better, smarter or prettier than they are. They will shatter things that they cannot understand or comprehend. Because to them it highlights their weaknesses. They will try to break you down - You must NEVER allow it. You must never resort to violence to solve things. Learn to defend yourself, yes - but never instigate or hurt another person if you can help it.Your words and your intelligence are your weapon of choice. Use them in all situations if possible. You must stand firm - even when you are shaking inside. This will get easier as time goes on. I promise.
Over-and-over you must do this. You must always live by the code you set for yourself. Your principles, ethics, behavior and character are what will define you in life. Not your home-life, clothing, hair or body. Trust in that. The world may define a person by the clothes that they wear - but you must never accept that. You are going to make mistakes. Mistakes are awesome – because they are one step closer to getting it right. Learn from your mistakes. Own them and move on from them. Some you may make a couple of times before you get it right. This is ok. This is how you learn. You must never fail to see the lesson. Lessons from your mistakes will make you a better person.
I will not lie to you and tell you living this way is easy - it isn't. I will not tell you that loneliness will not consume you at times - it will. I will not tell you that it gets better when you are older either. There will be times when you wonder if life would be easier if you just followed the crowd. Your strength however will be gained in building your road in life. You are smart enough. You are capable. You can handle anything life throws at you. Trust in this.
Younger self, you have a voice. Learn early on to use it. Do not remain silent when you see another being hurt. Always protect those who cannot protect themselves. Use your voice for others who cannot find their own. Never stand idle when others are being taunted - just because it isn't you, does not mean you tolerate it. Doesn't matter if it is not the cool thing to do. Doesn't matter if the "in-crowd" doesn't approve. You must use that fire inside of your soul for others. Be brave.
Young one, learn to be friends with anyone, just as long as they are good. Do not listen just to the words coming out of their mouth - study their actions as well. Look beyond the bravado and see what is in their eyes. People will lie to you. People will spread rumors and gossip. Some will try to discredit you. Learn to let it go. Learn to trust that your work, character and integrity will always shine through. Those who choose to believe the lies do not deserve a place in your life - let them go. Learn the lesson this teaches you and use it going forward through life.
The world will constantly try and get you to sell out. To conform. People will try and change you to fit into the acceptable mold. Never let anyone define who you are. Define yourself. It is a rough road to follow but trust in your later years you will have built the character and confidence to see you through anything. You must keep going. Always keep going. The world needs you.
I need you.
Though you may feel alone and like the world would be better off without you in it - it will not always be like this. You have the power to create a world you want. Fill it with friends who love you. There will be dark days for sure, but that spark that you never allowed to go out - will always burn brightly helping you to find your way.
Trust that you will always find your way. Believe in your power. Believe in better days. Believe in yourself. Doesn't matter if the world doesn't seem to. Doesn't matter what others say. There are more out there just like you. Promise.
Trust in your journey. It's worth it.
Your Future Self