Dear thirteen-year-old Lauren,
Okay, let’s just be honest here. You’re going through a bit of an awkward stage. Your clothes are too baggy, your glasses are out of style, and that middle part…well, it’s not doing you any favours.
But you don’t care. And that’s amazing. I’m so proud of you for growing up slowly. At thirteen, you still play with toys and you love running around the backyard with Toby (who’s still alive and well, by the way) and you still watch Spongebob after school on weekdays.
You’ll feel pressured from people at school to grow up faster. The friends you have at school will talk about boys and sex and even drugs, and you won’t know what to say. They’ll swear in front of you and call each other demeaning names.
You won’t follow them though. You’ll feel uncomfortable and you’ll pull away. And for this, you’ll pay a price.
Middle school is one giant hormone-fest, and you’re a late bloomer. So you won’t want to talk about boys or make-up or clothes. You’ll want to play Pokemon on your gameboy, and watch cartoons with your brother on Saturday mornings.
Your “friends” won’t like that. I mentioned this a little bit in my first letter, but now it’s time you know. Well, I’m guessing you already know. We got Toby towards the end of grade 7, so I’m sure you’ve already experienced this.
Do you remember that girl from your class? She added you on MSN (nobody uses MSN anymore…I know, I know, you’ll have a hard time letting it go but eventually you will). And that girl bullied you. She bullied you online and she called you a bitch.
You’ll wonder for years what you did to deserve that. You didn’t talk in class, you didn’t bother anyone, you just sat alone and read your dragon books. But a group of girls hated you for no reason other than the fact you refused to grow up too fast.
One girl will pull out your chair from underneath you as you’re about to sit down and the entire class will laugh. The teacher won’t even say anything. Another girl will accuse you of being bulimic at lunchtime and you won’t even know what to say. “I’m not bulimic – I’m terrified of throwing-up!” But you won’t say it. You’ll just take it. In silence.
And still, you won’t change.
I’m glad none of this stopped you from being you.
There is good news. The boundaries are going to change for your neighbourhood. In grade 8, you’ll go to a new school. And you’ll still be a bit awkward, and you’ll still wear baggy clothes, and you’ll still worry about all your pimples and your greasy hair. But you’ll make friends. Actually, you will make two awesome friends who are still your friends today.
You’ll part ways for a while, but you’ll keep in touch over the internet. And you’ll ALL go to the same university. You’ll have classes with them, and you’ll go out for breakfast with them, and they will come to your wedding.
You made these friends even with your baggy clothes and oily face. You made these friends even with your inability to talk to strangers and your extreme anxiety. These friends liked you for you.
When you’re in high school, around sixteen-years-old, that girl who bullied you over MSN will add you on Facebook (Oh, right, you don’t know what Facebook is. Just imagine it’s a really complicated version of MSN). You’ll stare at that friend request, and you’ll want to say something equally as hurtful to her. But you won’t. Because by that time, you’ll be pretty much over it.
So instead, you just accept the friend request.
To your surprise, she starts up a conversation with you.
“Hey, do you remember me?”
You’ll be tempted again to say something horrible, but you won’t. Instead, you’ll have a neutral conversation. It will last about 10 minutes, and then you’ll never talk to her again. Even though she didn’t apologize, you forgive her. And you move on.
I’m proud of you for that too.
I know this did affect you at least a little bit. You’re going to come home from school and cry alone in your room, wishing your life was like Lizzie McGuire’s. And for the next few years, you’ll think you’re ugly and your self-esteem with take a huge hit.
But then…you’ll be okay. You make some great friends in high school, and you make it through. I mean, you’ll hate high school too. But for different reasons.
Like I’ve said before, you don’t have to worry. Because trust me, you make it through.