(Photo by Natalie Baugh)
A Letter to My Teenage Self
By Jacqueline Napoli
Dear Younger Me,
You poor, sweet thing. You are so beautiful, and you don’t even know it. So gifted, but skulking around like a little street urchin. Come sit with me and let’s help you see yourself for who you really are. Sweet thing, sit.
First of all, they didn’t matter–those popular girls who practiced cruelty and exclusivity like a butcher sharpening a knife between cuts. You used to know this back in elementary school when you saw through their little “leave-you-out-so-you’ll-beg-to-be-let-in” game. You were magnificent, and hilarious when you called them out publicly on it and felt proud to be an outsider to this pack of wolves. But, my dear, what happened? You buckled under the backlash against being a girl of truth and integrity. You heard and ate their cruel words. You cared when they excluded you, when exclusion from them is like a badge of honor. Then, you hacked off your sun-bleached hair and redid your wardrobe to run with the herd. You ditched your dedicated and athletic, tomboy self, got some frosted lipstick, and quit dressing like a chill surfer. Then, you were still not one of the cool-kid mean girls, but you were also now not yourself. You resembled a shell of someone else. I’m calling to you, sweetie. Learn from it and come home to who you truly are.
At your core lives a young lady who loves truth and everything that goes with it. No wonder you didn’t fit in with kids who played mind games. You never cared about fashion or parties or gossip more than you cared about the awkward new kid no one’s even noticed, or your tragic, bullied classmate holding on for dear life. Be yourself wherever you are; get good at it. Pour your love–God’s love–on the people who want it. Don’t waste it on people who can’t wait to trash it. Draw your strength from God and give Him the glory.
Be real. Remember your sophomore year, you bragged about being, oh–such a great surfer! When, in reality, you hadn’t managed to even stand up yet. You found yourself on a road trip to Trestles with a bunch of schoolmates who actually surfed and ended up sitting on the beach next to your board all day because you “didn’t feel like surfing.” Don’t sweat it––it’s hilarious, actually. Be humble, silly girl. It’s okay to be a dork or a novice or whatever.
You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. Be happy with where you’re at, be open about it, and keep striving for improvement. The difference between trying to do something vs. being the master of it is just a matter of time. Have fun along the way and laugh––a lot. Your worth, my dear, is not tied up in what you achieve. It’s tied up in Whose image you are created in, and in Who loved you enough to not just make you, but die for you.
You are a masterpiece, thought up by the most powerful, loving, wise Being in the universe, and He would rather die a horrible, brutal death than not be your Father, Brother, and Best Friend for eternity. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone, Love. Relax a little––you’re okay! I love you. Learn to love yourself as well.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
– Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)