Dear 13-Year-Old Lily, You are Loved

A letter to my younger self

Inspired by Alana Hope Levinson and the LetsTalkAboutSexEd series.


Dear Lily,

Love comes in many forms — not simply in the neatly-packaged shows of affection fed to you through the television screen. Your immigrant parents love you; even without saying “I love you”, without hugging, without kissing. Learn that love comes in hot meals on the table and never having to worry about the material things — love is sacrifice and hard work too.

Don’t listen to those boys next door who tell you that you are “fat” and “ugly” everyday — don’t let them make you feel more unloved, more unwanted, more alone, and more worthless. Remember that young boys are cruel, and that they have their own struggles to overcome — confused, hormonal — desperate for an outlet in their toxic, shit lives too.

You are at your lowest point, but do not seek love in the wrong places. He is too old for you — almost 10 years too old for you — too old to not know better himself. He will tell you that he loves you, and you will cling onto that feeling — the feeling of being desired — for your dear life. You will use this feeling to excuse the days he calls you a “bitch” and treats you like sub-human scum.

He will gift you things, spend time with you and make you feel special. But baby, you are not special to him. You are a pawn in his own search for self-worth. A grown-ass man who has become emasculated and infantilized in an overly-religious household, who cannot drive, who doesn’t have tertiary education, who feels as little as you.

Gaining respect and love from women his own age is too difficult — so he plays with young, the naïve, the low-self-esteemed. You don’t realise it yet, but you will as you grow. One day you will be his age — the same age as him when he first began speaking to you when you were 13-years-old — and you will say to yourself, “How the fuck could someone this age do that?”

Be patient. You think that this man is your only chance — that no one else out there will ever love you. You will try to rush into a serious relationship — because this is the only relationship you could ever have. Enjoy your youth. Wait. You will meet people in life who will value you — in an authentic and honest way. These people are worth waiting for.

And when you find out that you’re not the only young girl he is using to cure his fragile sense of masculinity, you will cry for hours in your bed — the height of feeling of unwanted will peak. But I promise, this storm will pass. You are stubborn and hotheaded and refuse to listen to adults. You won’t even listen to older you. Retrospect will be your friend — listen closely.