Dear Young Me: Letters to My Past Self (#4)


Dear Sixteen-year-old Lauren,


Okay, I know you’re making a weird face in this picture. I’m sorry, it was the only one I could find that wasn’t a horrendous selfie taken with Dad’s ten-year-old “digital” camera.

It’s been only three years since my last letter, and look at how much you’ve changed. I know you still wear glasses, but from most pictures, you would never know it. I know your secret. You take them off whenever a camera is within a 2 km radius.

So, you’re starting to grow up. I see that eyeliner. All that eyeliner. Your best friend taught you how to wear make-up. She taught you how to (over)pluck your eyebrows. She taught you how to use concealer so your acne wouldn’t show. I mean, you still have a lot to learn. Like, those eyebrows? And that hairstyle? You might look back on these years and cringe, but you’ll also smile.

You’re pretty happy…at least, for the most part. I know you still have a hard time with getting older. You feel conflicted. The teenage years feel strange to you. You feel stuck in a weird, middle stage between childhood and adulthood. Sometimes, you still want to play weird games with your brother. Sometimes, you want to move out and live on your own.

Now, when I tell you that you’re happy(ish) right now, you’re probably rolling your eyes. Because of one big thing. You’re single. And that kills you. And most your friends have had, or have, boyfriends. You still feel like that thirteen-year-old late bloomer in middle school because you haven’t even had your first kiss yet.

For the rest of your high school life, you’ll obsess over the fact that “no one will ever love you.” The lack of male attention will cause so much unnecessary anxiety in your life, I wish I could slap you out of it. But I can’t. And you’ll have to learn on your own.

It’s not like there haven’t been opportunities. Remember that guy from the beginning of grade 9? Yeah, he liked you. And then he met your best friend. And they ended up dating for a little while. You told them it was no big deal, but for years you wondered why he picked her over you.

What about that guy from the summer? He was a year older than you, and you liked him for months. One time he told you he was home alone and invited you over. You were so oblivious. You said you were busy, and you guys didn’t really talk after that.

And what about that “popular” guy from this year, the beginning of grade 10? He liked you too. You won’t realize that until later, but he did. And then, one of your friends will say something so weird to him that he’ll stop talking to both of you out of the blue.

See, you’ll think it was all bad luck. You’ll think you were so unlovable, you’ll think you were so ugly, you’ll think you were so boring that no guy would ever want to date you.

But you know what I think? I think you were being protected.

That guy from grade 9 was pushy and inappropriate. Remember that webcam incident? Yeah. You wouldn’t want to be with a guy like that. In grade 9 you were still so innocent and you were definitely not ready for what that boy wanted.

Pretty much the same story for popular grade 10 boy. A year later you heard he tried to pressure another girl from school into doing some stuff she wasn’t comfortable with. Would you have had the confidence and the courage to say no if that happened to you at fifteen?

And the summer guy. He was quiet, and he was nice. He was respectful. But he obviously wanted you over at his house when no one else was home for a reason. And would have been able to say no to him?

Next year, this really cute boy will ask you out on a date. He’ll want to see Transformers with you. you’ll be so excited. You’ll say yes right away. And then, when the day comes, he’ll cancel last minute. And a few weeks later, you’ll see he has a new girlfriend.

See, boys did like you. And even if they didn’t, that isn’t even CLOSE to what your self-esteem and self-worth should be based on. Eventually, you’ll learn that in order to have a healthy relationship, you need to love yourself first.

I truly believe God was watching over you during your high school years. Would you have been able to say no to those guys, when your self-worth was totally based on love and affection from guys? Maybe, maybe not. What you see right now as a curse, I see as a huge blessing. You were protected from making decisions you would eventually regret. You were protected from potential dangerous situations. You were protected from heart break.

And guess what. You won’t date someone until you’re 18 years old. You won’t have your first kiss until you date this guy. You weren’t totally ready for such a serious relationship (and trust me, it will get serious fast), but at least at 18, you could say no. At least at 18, you had some self-esteem.

At sixteen, you probably don’t believe me about any of this. You don’t really believe in God anymore at this point, so why would you believe me? But like I’ve said before, you’re just going to have to trust me. I’ve been there. And I know.

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