To my beautiful and strong cousin,
High school is devastatingly hard.
I’m sorry love.
I wish you didn’t have to go through the scary years.
High school was one of the first times in my life that I wasn’t sure I was going to survive,
which sounds dramatic,
but for reals,
Mostly GIRLS were so mean.
The strong, confident Ciara you now know was just a shell of the woman I would become.
With JCPenney jeans, braces, overwhelming social anxiety, aggressive acne, and insecurities that blossomed like a personal garden of lies that made me retreat like a turtle into its shell.
If high school is anything like I remember
you’re either in,
or you’re out.
There’s no in-between.
I was out for a really long time.
Then randomly I was in. (Coincidence it was when I got boobs?)
Then drastically I was out.
It was hard to keep up.
Balancing through my social status was like walking on a tightrope.
I was DESPERATE to hold onto anything that could give me support:
Sports - I sucked
Family - constantly fighting with my parents as I tried to flex my pre-adultness
Friends - “please like me!”
Faith - an identity that made me feel even more like an outcast
Boys - “please love me!”
Popularity - convinced I would feel okay if I was at the top
Good grades - hoping to prove to the adults in my life I was not a failure
Good hair - really freaking hard in Oregon
Nice clothes - I was deadass broke
ANYTHING or ANYONE to help me make it through.
To help me make it out alive.
When high school gets really, really freaking hard I hope you remember that this experience is temporary,
high school does not and is not supposed to last forever.
It may very well be the longest four years of your life,
but just like that crazy long, boring class that you are pretty positive will kill your soul,
all things (even high school) eventually do come to an end.
High School is a lot like poker.
You’re dealt a hand of cards,
you attempt to make the best of it,
you try to fool everyone you have a good hand,
you make some bets,
you decide if you’re all in or you’re all out
and then, the game is over.
And you’ll end up walking away from the game of high school just to realize that what you won or lost has *little value.
The real winners are the ones who learn something about themselves and make the most of the opportunities they are given.
Try your hardest to be nice.
Kind maybe even.
I know this seems impossible because teenagers (especially teenage girls) are like a dysfunctional pack of wolves.
They prey on weakness,
they always run in packs,
and they devour their enemy.
But even worse than real wolves in the wild, teenage girls will turn on someone in their pack without much notice.
You don’t have to be mean, nasty, and turning on people in high school to survive.
All that mean and nasty that you see spilling out of yourself and others is just all the fear, sadness, insecurities, and PAIN that’s inside of every single one of us.
And it just whirls and whirls around inside of us
until it eventually has to come out.
Acknowledge the PAIN and know that
**all of that pain that is swelling inside of you,
is going to be what makes you powerful someday.
I know that sounds crazy.
PAIN turning into POWER.
But it’s true for me now, so it has to eventually be true for you too.
Give the pain space to breathe as best as you can.
DO THINGS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL OK.
Remember everyone has it.
Talk about it with someone you really trust.
Learn from it.
Try your absolute hardest to not take it out on the people you love,
Don’t believe the lie that your worth is in your clothes,
or your talents,
***“Measure your self worth by who you are at your core.”
I love you,
*I feel like I should note here that your high school diploma has A LOT of value...haha, duh.
** Glennon Doyle Melton said this first. I don’t remember how when or where though.