Dear Younger Me: I’m sorry

In all her gawky glory, this girl has become my superhero.

Dear Younger Me,

Holy shit are you amazing.

The older I get, the more clearly I see you. I used to think you were soft and pliable and naive. I used to think you were awkward and off-key and out of place. I thought you were “too nice” and a “goody-two-shoes.” And maybe some of this was true.

(Maybe most of it.)

But I also thought you were weak.

I was wrong. Oh, my sweet girl, I see now how truly strong you are.

You own your out-of-place-ness. You exaggerate it, you flaunt it. You wear it like armour because the truth is that if you laugh first then they’re laughing with you. And you refuse to compromise who you are just to gain a little superficial acceptance.

You are the outlier and you know it. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes you cry. But you keep putting yourself out there. In band. In theatre. At school dances where you dab on some cheap perfume and secretly hope that a nice boy will ask you to dance, even though you’re content to sit in the bleachers and watch everyone else.

I see your betrayed heart when they smack you in the head, when they knock your backpack off your chair, when they call you names. I see you struggle as you decide to call your parents to pick you up from the slumber party because you’re being picked on. I see the confusion in your eyes when they corner you and act like they are going to beat you up.

I see you do battle with depression and anxiety before you even know what they are. I see you reach out for help and receive none, and I see you learn to take care of yourself.

I see the longing in your soul, the yearning to belong… and the acceptance that you don’t.

And still you persevere.

Still you chase your dreams.

Still you do what you love.

Still you continue to be kind and generous.

Still you insist upon showing up authentically, boldly, crazily, in your own quiet way.

You never stop exploring who you are. You have never been afraid to dig deeper and to try harder. You have never ceased to express yourself. And even when you feel like you’re not good enough, you don’t stop. You just pause. And then you get back in there and you keep going.

I am so sorry, Younger Me, for seeing you as weak for so long.

I thought you needed to be fixed. I thought I was fixing you. But I realize that what I’ve been doing all along has actually been protecting you, enhancing you, expanding on your greatness. You are the foundation for everything I hold true and dear.

You were never broken.

You never needed fixing.

You were always amazing.

And oh so f*cking strong.