One of IHI's amazing clinical interns, inspired by our upcoming "Love, Yourself" benefit, writes a letter to her younger self:
Dear Younger Self,
Pssstt.. twelve-year-old self. It’s me, your twenty-seven-year-old self. Please don’t
get freaked out by this- I’m telling you to just trust me and roll with it because I have some
important things to fill you in on and I don’t have much time.
Yes, I saw what just happened- Jenna just pushed her Backstreet Boys folder in your face
and asked you which one you think is cutest. “That one,” you haphazardly pointed to the one whose outfit you liked the best and wondered why it was so anxiety-provoking to answer such a simple question as you turned your attention back toward the teacher to avoid further interrogation. Maybe because a part of you had to hold yourself back from pointing at Jenna instead- she was rebellious for a Catholic school girl with her thick black buckled shoes and hiked up plaid skirt (it’s funny, your taste hasn’t changed all that much, 15 years later). I feel you, sweetheart. It’s a hell of a confusing time for you right now.
I’m not going to lie- it’s difficult for me to look back at photos of you. And it’s not just because you are at the peak of that inevitable “awkward stage” that every pre-teen goes through (don’t worry, Mom and Dad are going to get you braces to fix those fang-like incisors), but because I can see in your eyes how uncomfortable you are in your skin.
There are so many things that I want to tell you that I don’t even know where to start. For one, you won’t have to wear that static-prone itchy wool skirt very much longer. That’s good news, right? I’m sorry to tell you though that transferring to public school will be as scary in ways as your innocent heart is currently anticipating but you will get through it because you are a fucking survivor. And gradually over the time between you and me, we will actually find many reasons to be grateful for the way we have been shaped by the experiences that you are enduring now. I want to say thank you for that- for taking one for the team. Our deep desire to see through past the bullshit and straight to the heart of things originated within you and will actually propel us forward through life with fierce determination.
Four years from now your first (and only) boyfriend ever will tell you he thinks you are a
dyke before you fully admit it yourself. His evidence will be based on the fact that the movie Girl,
Interrupted will soon be your favorite (supposedly every girl-lusting girl’s favorite movie at the time) and that you will listen to female-fronted rock bands which he will classify as “lesbionic” feminist music. He will break up with you a few months later because you won’t sleep with him and when you come across his Facebook page eight years later and see that he is still an aspiring black metal musician going nowhere, you will be very glad that you did not permit him to be your first. Side note- I know you have no idea what Facebook is right now, but you should probably tell Dad to invest in this stock in 10 years or so and share with you the profit- trust me).
Your own evidence for your “dyke”-ness however, will not be fully confirmed until the first time you lock lips with another girl on a bench in a village alleyway. “Oh, so that’s what it’s supposed to feel like…” you will say to yourself. You will float around on a cloud for the rest of the day and your whole world will be forever changed. I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday but I can still remember exactly what that girl was wearing, right down to her leopard-printed scarf. Within a few months from that kiss, she will shatter your world and you will enter the darkest period of your life to date. I’m telling you now not to scare you but to assure you that I will be with you through that. Please feel me in the bleakest moments and I will help to carry you through. And most importantly, you must realize that she is only the very first of several deep loves to come. We’ve got so much ahead of us.
More good news- you will successfully break away from that stifling suburbia and thrive in the energy of the city that has always been the backdrop to your classroom daydreaming fantasies. I’ve moved from apartment to apartment every year for the past seven years now- you know we’ve never been one to settle. I know you’re looking around at all those boring people driving their boring cars to their boring jobs and wondering if that’s what growing up looks like. Not for you, my dear. Not for you.
My therapist asks about you from time to time. I tell her that I’ve come a long way from that shy and introverted young girl but that that girl is who shaped me. I know that you can feel me, deep in your bones- screaming I am here in your future and I am waiting for you with open arms. You should also know that I’m surrounded by some really exceptional people and they are all waiting and rooting for you too.
I would be nothing without you.
So much love,
Your older self