What Would You Say To Your 16-year old Self?
A few weekends ago I burned my journals from high school and University. When I started reading them again, I realized that I would never want my daughter or my mother to read them. What if I were gone tomorrow? Would I want these words to be a part of my legacy? My husband told me he would never read them and would just throw them out. I want my daughter to have some access to my past - but not in these journals.
I felt so much pain in the words. These weren't gratitude journals. They were full of heartache, loneliness and sexual exploration. I didn't value my body or my sexuality very much and that is evident in the words I wrote.
So I decided that it was time to get rid of them. I could have recycled or thrown them out, but burning them in a campfire seemed so much more cathartic. Thankfully, we have a fire bowl and there is no campfire ban yet this summer.
This process was painful, as I read through some of the journals before tossing them into the fire. One of the things I really struggled with in high school was that I had very big breasts. They were super uncomfortable and I never felt good in any clothing. And they drew a lot of attention from guys. I didn't like that attention - yet on the other hand, I was glad to have their attention at all. It was almost as though my breasts weren't a part of me. Guys wanted to touch them. And I let it happen. I received a lot of 'massages' that were really a way for a guy to feel me up. I didn't have the courage to stop it or say anything. This happened a lot with one friend who would tickle me and basically feel my breasts while doing this. I still hate being tickled to this day.
I would love to go back to 16 year old Julie and give her some love and kind words of advice. Here's what I would say to the Julie, circa 1992, age 16:
You are loved.
You are perfect.
You already fit in.
There's no need to try so hard.
You are talented.
Your body is beautiful.
No one else is thinking about you,
They are all too worried about what you're thinking of them.
No guy will like you more if let him kiss you, touch you or any other physical activity.
He will either like you or he won't. Stop trying to convince him.
You are loved.
When that touching doesn't feel good or right, you can say stop.
You can say stop anytime you choose.
You are multi-passionate and that is great!
You are so much more than your report card.
You are beautiful.
Your body is powerful.
Your breasts are beautiful and belong to you.
Love is not about sex.
You've got nothing to prove.
Camp is awesome but don't forget to enjoy all the days in between the summer. There is so much to be grateful for.
Every day is a gift (I lost two friends to suicide).
That girl who got the lead in the musical? She's just as nervous and insecure as you. No need for jealousy. She needs your support.
You are loved.
Keep your heart open.
Cherish your sexuality.
Talk to your parents more often.
There's no rush to be an adult.
There's no rush to go to University.
You are already perfect.
And p.s. your life will be filled with losses and heartache and it will still turn out absolutely incredible!
What would you say to your 16-year old self?
Now that I am a mom to an almost 9 year old girl, I can do my best to share my lessons with her. She will experience pain and loss and difficulties as I did. My hope is that she has more respect for herself, her mind and her body than I did. And that she lives with a grateful heart every day.