Dear Darling 17-year-old Girl,
I know you are scared; I know you feel alone; I know you are putting up this protective barrier that makes you seem hard and confident, but deep down, you are really scared. I know because I am you.
It won’t always be that way. You have a long road ahead of you, but someday you will realize how beautiful you are, not beauty based on outward appearances or society’s definition of beauty, but a beauty that comes from within your soul. You will love who you are because your love for all things beautiful will shine through your eyes, will radiate from your skin, will echo in your words. I know because I am you.
I know you’ll have a hard time believing this, but how you are feeling now as a senior in high school is typical of most everyone in your class. Everyone around you has some of the same insecurities, they just hide it differently. You’re not alone. You’ll find out someday that you had more in common with the people you walked the halls with than you could imagine. I know because I spoke with many of them recently, and they told me they felt the same way I felt when I was you.
You know that boy you had a crush on, the one you didn’t think knew you were alive? He knows you; he’s just shy. Be thankful he is because you are nowhere near ready to be in a relationship with anyone, let alone him. I know because I am you.
You know how you feel invisible, like your skin changes from yellow to orange to red, depending on which hall you’re walking down? That’s not true either. People see you, but they feel invisible too. I don’t know what makes teenagers feel that way, but it’s ok, because you grow out of it. Someday, you’ll walk into a room and won’t care who sees you, because someday you’ll realize the only way to be visible is to see the beautiful people around you. But for now, stay the way you are. You have a rough road ahead, but it will make you a stronger, more compassionate person. I know because I am you.
And finally, pay more attention to the people who are around you. They become some of the greatest people you will ever meet, and you’ll let them slip out of your life. But don’t worry. The good ones will come back to you, at the exact moment you need them most. I know because I am you.
Love you, with all my heart,
The older version of you
Thank you, Gates-Chili, class of 1982 for a great 30th reunion!
16 thoughts on “If I Could Write a Letter to Me”
Pauline. I’m crying. That’s beautiful and so true and I’m glad we are getting to share this new leg of the journey together!
And as I read your last paragraph it reminded me of this line from a John Mayer song:
“…And if you never stop when you wave goodbye, you just might find if you give it time, you wave hello again …”
Hello again, dear friend. 🙂
Thanks, Joanne! After your encouragement last night, I knew I had to post it 🙂
For several reasons, I’m crying too. I think this is the letter most of us wish we could magically send back to ourselves.
I love the idea that to be visible we have to see the beautiful people around us. We are the people we surround ourselves with. I am blessed to have such an amazing friend in you.
Selfishly, I am so happy to have you coming home!!! See you soon–I’ve missed you.
I’ve missed you too! As always, I write for myself, but I hope that something I’ve experienced strikes a chord with someone else. I love how we are connected that way!
See you soon, my dear friend!
Thanks Pauline, this is so beautiful, I hope all that will read it will take some of it with them, especially the younger ones I am sure it will make them read it a second time and make them feel good about themselfs. Love you and keep on writting.
Beautifully done. I remember feeling these things as well. How old we’re you when the picture was taken?
Thanks, Tim! I was 17. That was so long ago!
Awesome Pauline, I am going to read this to my daugther. I always tell my kids if they can learn from my mistakes, they will be so much further ahead. But, like you said, they need to go down that same road, and be scared and have their hearts broken so that they can grow into amazing young adults. Miss you Pauline!
Thank you, Kathie! I miss you too. I wish you could’ve been at the reunion. Luckily, I connected with other amazing people:) Thank you for wanting to show it to your daughter. That is always my hope, that I write something that resonates with others and can be used as a teaching tool.
I love this! Completely agree! I was quite pleasantly surprised at the reunion to learn that, thank God, people do mature!
And they mature rather nicely! I loved that we could all connect again on a completely different level, but based on our shared history. Fun times!
You captured the way so many young people feel in high school. As the parent of 2 children who have graduated and gone off to college, I tried to remind them throughout high school that they are not alone when they feel scared or insecure. We all have felt that way at some point, and ironically, as many teens strive to be seen as “normal”, their feelings are just that…normal. I pray that I have given them the confidence to be themselves, which is who they are supposed to be.
As for you Pauline, I only knew that high school girl, and I remember her well. She was friendly, and had a beautiful smile. Her kind eyes and sense of humor made others instantly at ease. She was anything but invisible to people who knew her, and you could tell she was a good person by the way she treated others. My guess is that as she got older those wonderful traits just grew as did the number of lives she touched with her kindness.
All the best to you Pauline!
First, it’s so good to hear from you! I am honored that you read my post and responded to it 🙂 It blesses my heart when people share how they connected with something I wrote. Also, as a mother of two grown girls (and a 7 year-old boy), I’ve tried to be the kind of parent you are. I also try to help my students feel normal as well (I’m a high-school English teacher now 🙂 ).
Second, you blessed my heart with your kind memories of me! Thank you for adding tenfold to the joy I experienced reconnecting with my high-school friends.
I wish I was able to make the reunion, but we were on vacation, and it has been a busy summer with my son graduating. Maybe I will see you at another event sometime.
Your writing is a gift, and I can definitely see you as a great English teacher.
I think these celebrities “stole” your idea 🙂