1. You have a personality—because you had to have a personality at some point. When you go through a phase during which you’d rather not look in the mirror because you feel so behind physically or you think you’re downright incapable of looking beautiful to anyone other than your parents, you end up working on your character instead of fixating on your outward appearance. Even if you don’t realize it at the time, when you can’t lean on your looks to get by, you end up shaping yourself into an individual with valuable, appealing traits. The beauty is that your personality will attract people long after you leave that icky adolescent awkwardness behind.
2. You appreciate your adult looks for what they are. Since puberty left you gawky and weird looking for such an extended period, you know what it’s like to feel undesirable. So once you do grow into yourself, you feel grateful for whatever looks you’ve got. You’ll take anything other than lanky limbs and seemingly disproportionate features.
3. You’re not hung up on “fixing” yourself. Maybe you’re not a crazy attractive adult. The important thing is that you’re not totally embarrassed by your looks anymore. So you don’t bother obsessing over every unfortunate birthmark and wobbly bit like those who’ve never experienced a terribly awkward phase might.
4. You know how to be alone. While your body betrayed you by maturing so much more slowly than your peers’, you probably felt more alone than you ever had before. That time in your life sucked giant donkey balls. On the upside, however, you’re a person who knows how to be alone without freaking the fuck out.
5. You also know who you are. In isolation, people tend to do more serious thinking than they otherwise would, because, well, there’s not much else to do while hibernating. All of that introspection ultimately pays off in the form of personal growth, and a more sophisticated understanding of self than most young adults possess. Go you.
6. You know who your true friends are, too. Some people dropped you like a poisonous snake during your awkward phase because your social currency was so weak and they wanted to associate with normal individuals who could flirt confidently at parties. But others stood by you in spite of everything. The latter group is worth holding onto forever, of course.
7. You understand that people can be assholes. You’ve been overlooked or outright rejected enough times to know that some people are just jerks. That’s life.
8. You accept the worlds for what it is. You’re not overly romantic or deluded because experiencing some of life’s less awesome aspects at a young age grounded you. On the upside of early disappointment, you survived! You’re happy to be alive in the world, imperfect as it is.
9. You’re resilient. Since you had to accept the reality that some people really do suck as an adolescent, you also had to make a big decision early on: You could either let the assholes triumph and wallow in self-pity and sadness, or stay strong and find something better to do with yourself.
10. You’re a nice person. It’s awful to feel like an outcast in the midst of all your non-awkward peers. But because you truly grasp what it’s like to feel excluded and/or picked on, you’re a more accepting individual overall. That’s a beautiful thing.
11. You probably did really well in school. When you go through a phase that makes socializing more painful than rewarding, you end up having a whole lot of time to crack the books. If you use that time wisely, you’re bound to get good grades, which will put you in a much better position than all of the “popular” kids who are destined to go nowhere fast.
12. You’re probably good at the Internet, too. The digital realm is a popular oasis for members of the awkward set, who leap at the opportunity to abandon their actual physical selves for an alter ego or an avatar. The skills a person develops through squandering hours online is bound to serve them well in the modern world.
13. You’re not afraid of aging. Since you know that beauty isn’t the only important thing in life, the idea that youth is impermanent doesn’t scare you. You’re way less afraid of those first wrinkles and gray hairs than others your age. Let them fret over every sign of decay. You’ve got better things to do, like continuing to learn stuff so you can become a yet more interesting person.
14. In retrospect, part of you loves that awkward phase you went through. Since you wouldn’t be the person you are today without having gone through those terrible months or years during which you hated yourself and/or your parents and/or the world, you feel indebted to your awkward phase. It made you who you are, and you like that person staring back at you in the mirror (not that you spend that much time looking).