Note to a Former Self

photo by Joey Marion

photo by Joey Marion


To my former self fluttering 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.

You’d fallen apart at the seams and had no faith in yourself to patch up the pieces.

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 offhanded 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.

EssayAnna Fitzgerald