The day you were born you looked at me with the eyes of an old soul. I knew right then you were what I'd waited my whole life for. You were wise from the start. I've always known that I have as much to learn from you as I have to teach you. You can be a typical teen at times. Cranky, argumentative and an emotional tornado, but you are so genuine, so kind and so unique. I am regularly in awe of how well you know yourself and how hard you are willing to fight not to change for me or anyone else.
But this one is tough, kiddo. Middle school. It's not the schedule or the shifting of classes. It is not balancing multiple teachers or harder courses. It's middle school kids. Are they all a special breed of gremlin that morph by smelling out fear and insecurity? Perhaps. Will the next two years be nothing but pimples, body odor and mean girls? No. There will be finals and term papers and rumor mongering too. There will be crushes and heartbreak and friendships tested. There will be moments of greatness and success that your insecurity will warn you to celebrate quietly as to not stand out. I say this from experience. I don't tell you this lightly or without knowing that I sound like I am prepping you for war, but forewarned is forearmed, sweetheart.
Don't be shocked by how mean girls can be. Middle school girls are a special kind of mean. And while I hate to believe it, we've all been that girl and we've all been the victim of that girl. Don't let it define you or wound you for too long. We all survived, scars and all.
You have been blessed thus far with a group of friends who are as "perfectly weird" as you are. Social misfits, who all "fit" together. It's why The Breakfast Club resonates so deeply in your soul. You have been so lucky to remain outside of most of the drama online and in person. Middle school will make that harder. But stay weird, my love.
Your "weird" is what makes you, you. The way you write. The way you draw. The way you wear your heart right out on your sleeve. The way you laugh and giggle and sing. The way you dance and draw song lyrics all over your pants. The way you read obsessively and memorize whole books so that you can share the best parts with us. The way you get into the minds and hearts of characters and long to understand them as people. The way you are part girl and part woman and 100 shades of tween. The way you rally for the causes you believe in and do everything with a sense of passion and purpose.
As hard as it will become to remain true to whom you are, FIGHT for it. Fight for your friends when they are faced with cruelty or hardship. Fight for the ideals you already hold so dear. Fight to remain you while figuring out exactly who that is. Fight the urge to "fit in," when standing out will take you so much further. Fight to ignore the bullies and the desire to be one when you are hurt. Fight taking down a friend, an acquaintance or even someone you really don't like. There are some hurts that scar us forever. Fight against injustice when you see it, against boredom and insecurity when you feel it and cruelty when you hear it. And stay weird, my love.
Spend time nurturing new and old friends. Spend more time on the subjects you hate than the ones you love. Spend time being unique when it's easier to be anonymous. Spend time bettering your mind and your body. Push yourself, HARD. Never turn in anything less than your best work. Never leave a friend alone. Never walk when you can run. Never say no because yes is more work. Never let anyone else define you, tell you what you think, what you feel or who you are. Never chose hate when you can chose love. Never treat anyone in a way you'd be ashamed to admit to me.
Things will be confusing for everyone around you -- popularity, sexuality, identity and ideology. Keep your mind wide open. Let your spirit and your heart guide. And LISTEN. Don't just hear but really LISTEN. Listen more when you disagree than when you agree -- those times will prove to be your greatest lessons.
Trust me when I tell you that you will learn more about yourself and others in the next two years than you have in the last 13 combined. This is a passage out of childhood. It will be exciting, and overwhelming and scary and wonderful and awful. Some days it will be all of those things at once (oh blessed hormones).
So as we embark on this journey together, my love. Stay weird and know:
- My door, my ears, my heart and my lap and always open.
- There is nothing you can do that I cannot forgive, but you have to tell me so I can help.
- Girls will be mean. It will not make sense.
- You will be mean. It will not make sense. Learn from it.
- Deleted and erased no longer exist. Don't do it, say it or show it if you'd be ashamed for it to wind up in your grandmother's inbox.
- You have a powerful voice. Use it wisely and with conviction.
- Silence is equally as powerful when used correctly.
- You are beautiful, smart, funny, wise and strong. You will not truly believe any of that for many years, so I will be here to remind you.
- I want you to be successful, but not as much as I want you to be kind.
- Don't give anything less than 100%. If you can't, don't bother.
- I don't expect you to be the best. I simply expect you to try your hardest, always.
- You. Are. Loved.