Your thirteenth year will be such a trying one; you’ve never had such a hard time in your life. This is the year you will learn to be careful about what you say, online and in person. One innocent comment on a post will bring hellfire upon you from your classmates. Your words will be twisted and laced with lies. This is the year you discover the two faces people—specifically, some good friends—possess. There is the one they show the world, and the one they wear when they throw words like daggers from behind the safety of a screen. You will be called a bitch, ugly, retarded, crybaby—words that will mean nothing in a few years but for the moment will hit you like a punch. “Friends” will write words about you that you’ll still think about when you’re well into university.
You wear your heart on your sleeve, darling, and this is when you come to find that people will slash at your wrists for fun. This is the year that you learn how cruel people can be. You will be made fun of for your hair, a chaotic combination of your parents’ genes, you will be made fun of for your glasses and your thick eyebrows. Little do you know, years later, thick eyebrows will be “in fashion.” People would be envious of your thick (albeit, still slightly chaotic) hair, and your glasses will become one of your favourite features. You will make friends who will stay by your side at your best and your worst, and they are the ones you will want to grow old with. I wish I could tell you how happy you will become with the people in your life, you just need to find the needle in the haystack.
Your first year of high school will be harder than what you expected, harder than what you experienced the previous year. I wish I could hold you in my arms and protect you from the boys who harass you every day at your bus stop. Every time dad tells you that he can’t pick you up from school, panic will strike your chest, thinking about the heckling you’ll get that day. They will chant at you in the bus, in the hallways, call you a bitch, make fun of your name. You’ll feel like you can’t tell your parents; you’ll feel embarrassed and weak. Your lunches will be spent in the library, tucked in a chair between stacks of books, travelling to far off lands.
This is also the year where you will build compassion and understanding. It is the year that will start to tear you apart, but it is one that will help define you. You’ll be told again and again how beautiful your name is, the same one those boys chanted in mockery. Those lunches spent in the library helped foster your love for literature, and you’ll come to read more than you can remember. These are the days where you will be torn apart, but they are the same ones that mould you into the strong and intelligent woman you become.
I wish, darling, that I could go back in time and hold your hand. I wish I could tell you that those years of pain will push you down, but then you’ll learn how to build yourself as tall and sturdy as a mountain. You’ll be harassed by a boy’s friend because you decided not to go out with him, but you are coming to understand what you want and what you are in control of. These years, however painful, will teach you valuable lessons. You will learn to be tender while remaining somewhat guarded. You will learn how to take words of malice and turn them into passion. You will be driven by everything that has been said to you to make yourself the best you can be, for yourself and for others.
Everything that will be scrutinized will end up being what is best about you. You are no longer a crybaby, you are passionate about everything you do. You are not a bitch, you speak from the heart and you don’t take shit you don’t deserve. You’ll be made fun of for wanting to do well in school, but that drive is what will push you through your undergrad and into your masters and doctorate. It is the drive that your friends and family love about you, what you will love most about yourself. And above all, you will learn to be open about your struggles. You will feel alone and weak, but you are neither of those things.
Looking back now, I’m not sure there is much I would change. All the experiences I’ve had have helped shape me into the woman I am today, and as long as I can pull some good out of the darkness, I have no regrets. What I would have liked was for there to have been more of a discussion surrounding what I was going through. I wish the kids in my schools knew what they were doing to me. That is why, since leaving high school, I have been very open about my struggle with bullying and mental health. A positive narrative needs to be created in order to facilitate open discussion and change, which is what I hope to achieve through my transparency. When you see someone who’s been through similar experiences, when you hear their stories, there is a sense of validation and comfort knowing you are not alone. So, not only is this an open letter to my younger self, but to anyone who has been bullied; these years will help shape you, and it is up to you whether you let that be in a positive or negative light.
Your bright future
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