I sometimes wish I could write letters to my younger self, or whisper in the ear of the little girl feeling she will never fit in, that she is not the same as these other children. She feels a slight injustice in the effortless beauty of the “popular” girls, the way their hair never looks messy, their clothes always look neat.. The unfairness strikes her especially hard with the girls who are so genuinely nice that she can’t even fully resent them. Not nice enough to invite her to their birthday parties, but she does not feel left out for that. She knows she does not belong there.
I wish I could be a guardian angel for my smaller incarnation, hovering to shoo away those few bullies who even bother noticing her. I want to give her confidence to speak up, join in the games, make friends with the girls who seem to be part of a secret club that she feels she will never, ever know the secret password for getting into. In my mind, I cradle the child I once was, speaking to her soothingly as though I am her mother rather than her future.
Does a mother look at her child with such heartbreak, knowing the pain the child suffers? Does she feel every injustice so keenly? Can I look at my own children some day with so much protective empathy? Can I have such foresight, knowing the right words to say, or will it be taken as nothing more than the empty words of a person out of touch with the realities of youth? Will I be able to build my own children up the way I wish I could to my own self? Or will it all be lost in the day-to-day shuffle of misbehavior and annoyances?
I want to reassure the young adolescent Amy that boys WILL like her, and I would give anything to show that little girl her own beauty in a mirror. You are not ugly, not fat, not hopeless. The people you call your friends do in fact enjoy your company.. you’re not the sad little hanger-on you fear you may be.
I want to give my child-self just a glimpse at her future, the tiniest foresight that it will be okay. Show her me, all done up and KNOWING, not hoping, that I look fucking good. Let her see that she is and always has been a lovely girl.
Just to kiss her on the cheek, offer her some comfort when she feels cold and hopeless, tell her that one day all of these things that weigh down her little heart will one day be but faded ghosts lingering in corners. Hold her and whisper that she isn’t alone, and she will be strong, so strong one day.
I know that giving away these secrets would take away some of the joy in discovering them. But this little girl so many years ago is in so much need of hope. She feels that no matter how hard she works, how good she is, how much she tries, she will never ever be enough. And she doesn’t even know that she feels this way. All she wants is to make people happy, but my poor shy youth is always keenly aware of some imagined disappointment, some perceived failure. She just needs someone to help her stand up a little straighter, face the present, and know that her future is waiting with open arms.
I want to show her that she will rise above. The things she dreams of that seem so far out of reach, dancing and drinking, laughing, sitting in a place that is HER OWN, finding a boy, a man, who will be her perfect companion.. these things will be hers, and she will love it as much as she thinks she will. Life is lovely, and even though there are “grown-up stresses”, her childhood is NOT the best part of her life the way they keep telling her it should be. No, love. It does get better for you. It is so much better.