*This blog post was originally published on The Daily Adventures of Paige
For every girl out there doubting yourself and hating yourself and crying yourself to sleep at night because you aren't pretty enough or popular enough or skinny enough. For any girl who has ever been bullied or made fun of or alienated. For every girl who is struggling through high school wondering if things will ever get better, this is for you.
Dear 17-year-old Me,
I have so many things I want to tell you. I know that high school can be hard, high school in a small town has to be the worst. There is no where to hide, everyone knows you and the mistakes you've made, you can't get lost in the shuffle like you could at a bigger school. Don't worry though, someday you'll look back and love that you got to graduate from high school with the same 20 kids you went to Kindergarten with.
I wish I could take away all the hurt and the pain your going to feel over the next few years but I know I can't. It's going to hurt like hell when the boy you have a crush calls you fat, and when your friends have to set you up a date for prom because no one will ask you on their own, and when you overhear someone you thought was a friend saying hurtful things about you. Whoever said "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me" was a liar because those words are going to hurt and you're going to cry and you're going to eat cabbage soup for 5 days straight because being skinny would make everything better.
I want to tell you not to do those things, not to let those people crush your spirit and take away your confidence but I know you probably won't listen because I've been there and I know it's hard to listen to the few people telling you you are beautiful when it seems like so many voices are saying the opposite but don't let the opinions of a few mean-spirited people change you. I see the way you laugh and make fun of yourself so others can't do it first. I know it is exhausting to put on a happy face every day and pretend to be confident even when your not, but don't give up. Don't stop being you because some people are too ignorant to appreciate how truly awesome you really are.
Believe me when I say someday, someone will tell you you are beautiful every single day and mean it. They will love you with their whole heart not because your perfect but because they love your imperfections. It might not be as soon as you would like but be patient. I've said it already but it's worth repeating don't give up, don't lose hope, don't stop being you, because somewhere out there is someone waiting to love you just the way you are.
Try not to hate your body. I know it's hard but try to love the body you have today, it's capable of some pretty amazing things. Love your body, take good care of it and don't be so hard on yourself, and I promise you will be happier. Love your body for what it can do, not what it can't do. Don't compare yourself to others, we were all created different for a reason, embrace your differences because they are what make you you, and you are beautiful. You are unique and beautiful, don't ever let anyone else tell you otherwise. Don't let a few bullies dictate how you feel about yourself, let your confidence shine through and be proud of who you are, no matter what anyone else has to say.
Don't be afraid to follow your dreams. You can be anything you want to be, truly believe that. There will always be someone there ready to tell you can't, that your dreams and goals are ridiculous and unattainable. There will always be someone that wants to keep you down so they have someone to keep them company at the bottom. Don't let them do it! Don't ever be ashamed of being smart and driven. Be proud of the skills and talents you were blessed with, nurture them and watch them grow and you'll be amazed at the places they will take you.
High school is hard, I know it is, but nothing lasts forever. Choose to be happy now, don't wait for some magical number on the scale or a boyfriend to be happy, life is too short to rely on others for your happiness. Find happiness in the journey and enjoy every moment.
There are so many amazing things waiting for you out there, go get them.