Posted on 4/17/2015 |Featured Columns & Series
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to go back in time or to send a message to your younger self with perspective you’ve gained along the way? I think about that sometimes. Here’s why.
When I was 8 years old, I dreamed of being popular. Movies like Can't Buy Me Love and Adventures in Babysitting showed me just how amazing life would be if I was the popular girl. I fantasized about high school and what it would be like to be the most popular girl in school. According to Hollywood, I would be friends with everyone. I would have cool clothes, perfect hair, and the captain of the football team would be my boyfriend. Being popular meant everything to me. Sometimes, I couldn't think of anything I wanted more.
When I got to middle school, “popular” proved less attainable than I’d dreamed. I was the tallest girl, taller than all the boys. I didn't play sports or join any clubs. My friends were all shy just like me. We weren't the cool kids or the jocks or the nerds. We read books, went to movies and talked about what we wanted our futures to be. I realized then the painful truth that I would never be the popular girl. It just wasn't in the cards. In high school, my 8-year old dream was left even further in the dust. I was bullied by boys that I had grown up with my whole life. They laughed at me. Made me feel small. Over time, I allowed that to shut down my dreams almost completely. I didn't believe that I could be anything other than the dorky girl that everyone saw.
So about that message back through time . . .
Dear 8-year old me,
Be confident in yourself. Just as you are. You are wonderful, bright, amazing and beautiful. You don't need to be popular. Being popular does not match who you are supposed to be. Dream. Keep dreaming and then dream some more. Explore your world. Learn about what you like and what you don't, and don't try to pretend to like the things you don’t. You have great friends around you that like you for you, so don’t waste your energy on looking for something else. Don’t let others tell you who you should be. Just be you and let your dreams grow.
Because here’s the thing . . . When I was 8 years old, I did dream of being the most popular girl in school. But, there was so much more. I dreamed of being an elementary school teacher. I dreamed of making movies and TV shows that made people laugh. I wanted to have a farm with lots of dogs and a house that my whole family could live in. I dreamed of having friends that made me laugh for hours on end. I dreamed of being confident and courageous. I watched astronauts go to space and dreamed of a day that I might be one of them. I pretended to be a world-famous chef, a banker, a news anchor and a dancer. I believed that I could do anything. That my life could be whatever I wanted it to be.
Dear 8-year old me,
Stand tall. Be proud of who you are. You are smart. Funny. Determined. Thoughtful. And, yes, sometimes kind of a dork. These traits will lead you greatness. Keep your head up. And, most importantly, do things that you love because that is when you will truly be happy.
I know these things now, but, like many of us, it took me a long time to figure it out. This is one of the reasons I’m so passionate about the work we’re doing at Girls on the Run. We help girls hear positive messages and discern how to be their own messengers of affirmation and healthy perspective. They understand that they are perfect, just as they are. They discover that they have everything needed to boldly pursue the dreams already within them. They know all of this and more. No time travel required.
What would you tell your younger self? Tell us in the comments below! Don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter so you can keep up with more inspiring and affirming stories!