I wish I could go back in time and tell 10-year-old-me that someday, she would be making a living by reading books all week so that she could buy more books to read on the weekends. I wish I could tell her that 13 years from the time she felt like a loser for coming in second-to-last-place during the mile run in PE, she’d be sitting in a cafe in New York reading and a waiter would come up and say, un-sarcastically, “I really like your Han Solo shirt.”
I wish I could tell her that she will never be cool, but that someday, it won’t matter. That the world is full of nerds and geeks and dweebs and losers, only none of them are really losers at all. That Mia Thermopolis and Wilma Sturtz and Violet Baudelaire and Hermione Granger didn’t get to where they are by being pretty or cool. That there are more important things than being pretty or cool, like being smart or interesting or funny or brave. That surviving a lot of years of being not-liked for arbitrary reasons gives you practice on how to treat others.
That one day, you will do things by yourself, like eat breakfast and read books and do yoga, because you want to, not because you have to. That you will tell people, “I LIKE STAR WARS AND I’VE READ THE FIRST HARRY POTTER BOOK 17 TIMES,” and no one will laugh or trip you or try to kick the soccer ball into your stomach during recess. (Mostly because you don’t have recess, the only real disappointment so far in growing up.)
That someone might even respond, “Me too,” a phrase you never knew existed until you got a little older. Me too. It will be the most beautiful phrase in the English language, because it will mean that you have friends.
You will have friends who like you whether or not you’re wearing glasses, that will still invite you for sleepovers even though your teeth aren’t straight. You will have friends that will not call you names, because people don’t call other people names when they get older. And if they do, they are not met with high-fives or invites to play on the Varsity volleyball team, I promise.
When you grow up, you will find out that people are mean for very different reasons. Kids are mean because they have so many feelings in their tiny little bodies that they don’t quite know how to express just yet. Adults are mean only when they are scared or hurting. You will learn this, and you will not judge so harshly the popular girls. You will make friends with the popular girls, and sometimes they will laugh at your jokes, and sometimes they will not, and that is okay.
You will date boys who are both popular and not popular and eventually there will be no difference. Eventually, you will not be able to tell if they were picked first or last in gym class, because eventually, that stuff won’t come up in conversation. Instead, you’ll talk about movies and books and artists and they will teach you things and you will teach them things and it won’t matter that you ate lunch alone every day back then. It really won’t.
One day, your heart will hurt because you have traveled and lived in so many different places, not because you feel the crushing weight of being the only 8-year-old with purple-and-steel headgear at a birthday party. You will love so many people in so many far away places, and they will love you back. You’ll meet other girls who are kind and funny and smart and interesting and you will miss them when you move to New York. You will meet boys who kiss your freckles and tell you that the scar on your leg from summer camp is cool. You will meet all kinds of people, and you will not be alone.
So keep reading those books, 10-year-old me. Keep memorizing Return of the Jedi, and practically move into Barnes & Noble. Keep reading books where the women are strong and brainy, and keep reading books that encourage you to solve mysteries and take train rides and explore other places. Keep reading books where people overdose on drugs, where people fall in love, where people hurt each other and where people listen to good music. Keep reading memoirs and sci-fi and fantasy and fiction and don’t pay attention to the kid pulling your pigtails or calling you, “weirdo.”
Because someday, you will be me. And someday, you will really, really like that.