The world sees you, you know. On days when you don’t feel beautiful. On mornings when you spend an hour in front of the bathroom mirror. You might think that your efforts are lost, that you’re just a face in a sea of faces, but you’re not. I promise you.
The world is too harsh, but also too quiet. You will hear the angry words the loudest. You will always see the stares rather than the smiles. I don’t know why things are this way, and I’m sorry they are. But just know that you are seen. You are noticed.
Listen to me. You don’t have to spend your mornings wondering if you are pretty, pressing your nose to the mirror and examining your pores and the bags under your eyes. We all have bags under our eyes. And wrinkles. And pimples. And freckles. And scars. And these are all the things that make us beautiful, make us unique.
I know you won’t believe me now, but I’ll tell you anyways. You don’t need approval. You will never need approval. Your hair will always be too frizzy, or too straight, or too short, or too choppy. Your eyes will always be too round, or too blue, or too close together. Your body will always be too thick, or too fat, or too muscular, or too wide, or too tall, or too short, or too skinny. And even when you think you’ve become perfect, the world will turn away from you.
You’ll be too perfect. And that won’t be good enough either.
See, sweet girl, there’s no winning. But that’s okay.
Don’t turn your face from the world. The world is not a negative place, just misunderstood. The world wants us to keep pushing, but you will see opposition to anything you do. This doesn’t mean you should give up, this means you should fight back harder, be stronger.
You are more than a face in the mirror, you know. You are more than a body walking the halls of a high school, more than the catty girls and more than the eyeing boys. I know it seems like the most important thing is to be liked and loved, to fit in and to be recognized. But do not compromise yourself, do not change yourself, because you will spend years trying to rediscover that person you once were.
You are special, sweet girl. Special because you are young. Because you have your whole life to make mistakes, to fall in love, to meet your best friends, to hike mountains, to scuba dive, to learn how to cook, to kick box, to dream, to fall down and get back up again.
You will grow out of your pimples. You will grow into your long legs. You will learn that approval from friends and boys and the halls of high school doesn’t compare to feeling good about yourself. Because life won’t be easy, and your success will depend on your own strength, and your ability to pull yourself up from the ground.
I believe in you. I believe in what lies behind your face, your eyes. Behind that reflection in the mirror. It won’t be easy right now, but you need to learn to believe in yourself.
Please, sweet girl, know that it will get better. The words you hear thrown around the halls, the hate and gossip that spills and seeps into your soul like spilled oil, will dissipate.
You will look back one day and laugh at the girl who treated you so poorly because she taught you how to stand up for yourself. You will laugh at the boy who didn’t give you the time of day, because he wants you now. You will laugh at the words of your friends, of your parents, of those who didn’t understand. You will see it clearly—it all led you to where you are right now.
It will get better. The pain, the confusion, the way the world feels like it’s crushing you from all sides as you plan for this unknown future that seems like an upside-down, directionless map. It will get better.
As you lean against your bathroom mirror, eyes squinted in disgust, know that you will never be good enough. You will always be nit-picked, always be judged, always be evaluated. But it’s okay to never be good enough for the world. You won’t. None of us will.
What matters is that you are good enough for yourself.
So stop worrying about the world and if the world will accept you. Accept yourself and smile at the mirror. And know that all the women who have survived high school are standing beside you in spirit, smiling at all our reflections.