Dear Girl I've Never Met
Dear girl I don't know,
Heyyyy girl. I know we've never met, and this might seem weird, that's because we've never met, and it is sort of weird. Here's the thing, I got a text today saying that you're about to go into your junior year of high school and you're having a tough time. The second I heard that, I shuddered and my Voldemort scar started hurting. This high school crap is no joke. I thought we could talk about it (read: me preach at you for approximately 1,500 words).
It's just that I know you're a big bowl of Progresso hot soupy mess right now. And I know that you're a big delicious steamy crockpot full of soupy mess because I was a junior in high school about a thousand years ago too, and it was such a shit show that I can remember just about every detail as clearly as I can remember every line in the movie Moulin Rouge: very, very accurately.
I remember everything: like my 10th grade English teacher asking me if I was in mourning because I wore all black literally all the time.
<Writing that sentence makes me laugh and want to write a strongly worded letter to the White Star Line and Troy City School district. Who the hell was that teacher, and are you freaking kidding me? That's how she asked me if I was OK?>
I also remember listening to Dido's song "Honestly OK" pretty much on repeat for about four months straight before I moved onto "I Know" by Jude from the City of Angels soundtrack.
I'm still mad at Meg Ryan for that movie.
Wait. That Dido album was amazing. Where's my iTunes...
I did the most depressing crap all through high school. I would visit cemeteries a lot. Like, a lot. It was quiet and there were trees, and no one was going to look at me. I ate lunch in my math teacher's classroom because I couldn't deal with the stress of the lunch room (separate blog from September...a good one, I might add). I got a job as a lifeguard so I wouldn't have to talk to coworkers. I avoided dances like they were the actual plague. And not a good plague, like Bubonic.
They call all of this "teenage angst." Whoever "they" is. In my humble opinion, it's sort of rude, and grossly inaccurate to boil our bad experiences down to "teenage angst," don't you think? It's not just inaccurate, it doesn't do it all justice, and it hurts. It hurts to think that all of the swirling fog that keeps us up at night and pulls us down during the day is some tagline used on Dr. Phil. I also I know what it feels like to feel unseen, unheard, and misunderstood in this way. How many times a day do you want to scream at people for trying to shove you into a nice neat box with a label just so they feel more comfortable with your complexities?
I have no idea who you are, and I will not try to feed you some lame one-size-fits-all advice about these being the best years of your life and how you need to find focus and drive or whatever. That's garbage. Girl, I don't need you to think about your future right this second, I just need you to make it to tomorrow. Shit, I need you to make it to the end of this blog.
I have no idea what your life is like, but, having gone through this stuff too (read: from about the 4th grade until I finished puberty at about 33), I do know a few things that might give me some street cred (please, God, tell me that the kids still say that).
I know exactly what it feels like to not have a home in your own skin. I know the pain of feeling you need to be alone, and needing someone to notice you, and the need to be saved, and needing to be needed....all at the same time, every moment of every day.
Oh and let's not even with anxiety.
But since we're here...
I know the type of anxiety that makes you think that everyone is looking at you/talking about you/judging you, and how sometimes it turns out you're right. I know the type of anxiety that keeps you very small in the world of fear. I'm the mayor of that world...it's where things are not necessarily logical on the outside, but where somehow those thoughts feel like home. I know the anxiety that weighs you down with a sadness so thick, you're genuinely surprised when you can get out of bed.
I'm also not gonna give you that standard bullshit that you're beautiful just the way you are, or that you're belov'ed by the masses, or that one day this will all fade away - I actually don't believe in telling people that at all. What I do believe is that were put here for a reason. I'm not sure what your reason is, and most days I'm not sure what mine is either, but I'm one day closer to finding out.
So yeah, I've never seen you and I've never met you, and odds are I never will see you and I never will meet you, but that doesn't mean that I don't know a few thing about you: I know you're incredible. I know that you're incredible because you showed up. I don't mean that you've done anything Herculean. I don't mean that you've gotten the best test scores, or that you've won medals in #sports, or that you're anything other than average in the things that we insist on squeezing into categories and rankings with scales that are completely arbitrary and subjective.
What I mean when I say you're incredible and what I mean by showing up is that you're still here. If you're reading this, you're my hero because you showed up today. Now you may be reading this and fetal position on your bathroom floor. That's cool. I've done that. By the end of me writing this blog, I may be in fetal position on my bathroom floor too. That's showing up, though, and that's all I need you to do.
Showing up isn't necessarily graceful or cathartic. It's a mess most of the time. We may be a mess but we showed up, right? If I end up putting pants on today I consider that a win. Everything else is a bonus.
There's a good news/bad news section coming up:
There may not be a way to get people to see you not right now. That's the bad news. And in my experience that's about as bad as it gets. Believe it or not, the biggest reason you're not seen in the way you need to be is because people are generally really busy looking for themselves and haven't looked up long enough to see anyone else.
But the good news is that all of this is crap is building a tool for you to make sure that no one else lives a life unseen. I hated every second of my high school experience while I was going through it, but what's really cool is that it's given me perspective a voice to help people know that they are seen and that their experiences matter.
Other good news: I just turned 34, and this is so far the best year of my life. So, there's that. You won't have to wait that long...I've had amazing years leading up to this too. I'm just saying, don't panic about the year you're in. You'll get another try.
Wait, one more thing before I sleep like a starfish in my very comfortable pillow-top mattress that I can afford because I made it to adulthood: I do actually have advice.
- listen to all the depressing music you want: some study or something somewhere showed that "depressing" or "angsty" music actually helps people like us feel connected when we feel like no one gets us. Go for it homie.
- try anything that keeps you curious. Curiosity is the cure for almost anything. Just promise me that it's not going to be anything involving an addiction or that will require extensive STD testing. I mean try yoga or underwater basket weaving.
- Remember that there isn't a "cure" for anything. You're human, man, it sucks sometimes. Perpetual happiness is a myth used to make money. You'll be happy sometimes, and completely nuts other times. No big deal. Observe it, accept it, forgive it, and go for a walk.
- Eat DeFazio's.
- Lastly, this isn't necessarily advice, but just know that things do get better. I swear. You'll meet people that change your life, and who break your heart, and make you feel like you're flying all the time when they look at you in that way; and who buy you a bacon/egg/and cheese at 1am because they love you. Those days are coming.
Good luck, woman. You got this. I hope to meet you one day to see you knocking this life right out of the park. Just keep showing up.