Note to a Former Self
To my former self strutting around in a Catholic school uniform, it’s okay that you were a huge nerd. It’s okay that you wore sparkly tights that constantly ripped in the knee. It’s okay that your dream guy was Mr. Rochester, that non-fictional boys terrified you, and that Caramel Swirl Iced Coffee comprised a quarter of your diet. Your go-to joke was “Anna runs on Dunkin,” which wasn’t clever. It’s even okay that you watched TV for hours a day because you had no love life, adventure, or murder mysteries happening in your day-to-day. It would be a lie to say much of that has changed.
But this is not absolution. For four years, you were consumed by self-loathing and half-heartedly tried to forgive or forget every push of the self-destruct button. Rarely did you admit that you liked the roles of hero and antagonist too much to give up either to an outside hire. Before moving on, I have grievances to air.
It’s not okay that you trash talked your own body. It was doing its best. It’s not okay that you wondered if you had a sesame seed in your tooth whenever a beautiful boy turned his smile in your direction. It’s not okay that you spent two-thirds of the day caring about whatever so-and-so was whispering and, yes, she probably was pointing at the green eye shadow you decided to try that Tuesday. I bet your back pain would have disappeared if you’d learned to sit up straight.
What I’m saying is that you needed, desperately, a better pep talk than this six years ago. You’d fallen apart at the seams and had no faith in yourself to patch up the pieces.
This self-sabotage bothers me. Makes me rant to a blank piece of paper because there are times, particularly on walks when my phone dies, that I regret not asking the boy in math class if he’d like to go to the movies Friday. Or Saturday. Sunday worked, too. I regret this lost opportunity and countless others, not because I can only guess what holding his hand feels like. Not because I missed my chance to dance stupidly at prom. Not even because I could have been freer, achieving something like ease.
I regret these forfeited experiences because I’ve discovered I am and possibly was cool. I may have been enough.
Recently, I’ve discovered that some people find my Jane Austen obsession amusing and fall into fits of giggles when I reveal I drop twelve dollars on average at fro-yo cuisines. I’ve discovered high school was the time to try to fit in and fail. Beyond is for shrugging off self-doubt and cool people who enjoy making others feel small.
It has taken time but I now suspect I didn’t have to leave so many things untried.
These last few years, I haven’t mastered the offhand shrug or figured out an equivalent to the cool guy nod. I still worry when people whisper. But I’m in the process of becoming a beautiful butterfly moving on to better adventures. People may touch my wings as they please.