Dear 12 Year-Old Me,
I‘m not sure you’ll be able to enjoy any of this letter until I first let you know that, yes, those Mickey Mouse underwire bras at JC Penny’s that you’ve had your eye on will one day be yours. You’ll have to wait a while, though, because you won’t fit into a cup size until 11th grade. I promise it’s going to happen, you just have to give it time.
On any given Thursday social media is filled with the hashtag #tbt. Pictures of a smocked dress, braces, and so many mall bangs stare back at us through our phones. Some are downright cute and others are, well, downright perfect.
Why, yes, those are sheer sleeves.
This is 12.
There’s something so wonderful about being 12 years old. Just shy of teenage, just past the sweaty recess days — there’s so much possibility. Sixth grade is a time of deep dreaming about the future. Standard kindergarten answers of astronauts and princesses grow into occupations filled with our deepest desires. Hidden diaries are stuffed with sketches of our company’s logo and futuristic clothing designs; speeches we want to make on a podium overlooking a vast room are written out in great detail.
There are even some of us who have decided an astronaut is indeed our chosen profession. We rip out notebook letters to NASA space camp and mail them confidently. Mapping out our life with our best friend is imperative: Rooming together at college, double weddings and, of course, buying matching Dodge Neons are dreams all meticulously written down with glittered gel pens. And don’t forget the hopes of lots and lots of bras; the kind with bows and lace and space for real life boobs.
This is 12.
But, with possibility comes disappointment, and the disappointments are now beginning to stick. Long gone are the elementary days of a friend hurting your feelings and by the end of recess you’re both holding hands to go back inside. In sixth grade that same friend starts a rumor that you stuff your bra — and in just hours she rips everything you knew apart.
Notes are passed, bathroom stalls are camped out in and mornings are filled with stomachaches and begging your mom to stay home. Everything is spoiled, especially when you don’t even own a bra. Tears are shed. So. Many. Tears.
The drama is too much for anyone to bear on his or her own. A new Sanrio diary is purchased; the key is hidden. You forget where the key is. You’re sure your brother stole it, and so you smash the tiny lock into pieces. So. Many. Tears.
This is 12.
Yet, in someway, isn’t all of this also 22, 32 and, I’m not sure yet, but I would venture to guess, 42? No matter where we are in life won’t there always be mornings when we seriously weigh our options of faking a stomachache? We’ve made it past changing in gym, not being asked to slow dance, and even having to ask the school nurse for a pad. Over time, these once catastrophic events are now bathed in a Nashville filter with bright emojis telling a now funny tale.
Yet, in someway, isn’t all of this also 22, 32 and, I’m not sure yet, but I would venture to guess, 42?
If this is true, then could our devastations today possibly become the throwback Thursdays of tomorrow? What if instead of just posting the photo, we checked in with the girl staring back? Could reminding her that she made it through losing her retainer in a McDonald’s trashcan help us to know we’ll make it through a lost job?
And what of that 12 year-old’s dreams? Are we making her proud?
There’s a very good chance that our parents’ basements are filled with boxes of 24-hour photo packets just waiting to be noticed. What if we challenge ourselves to take a moment to notice the girl we find inside? Take out some paper and that glitter gel pen and let her know you thought her Halloween costume was inspired. Find the photo with knobby knees and overgrown bangs and assure her she’ll do great at the school sock hop, but maybe hold out a little longer for that slow dance. Be kind to her, honest with her and above all, encourage her by telling her how the braces do, finally, come off.
Let her know what you’re doing now, how you got there and maybe let her challenge you to keep writing the speech that one day will change the world. Allow her own overcoming heartbreak to remind you that this, too, shall pass, even if that means you have to keep eating your lunch in the bathroom stall a little longer.
This is 12, but this is also life.
Sometimes the best way to process today is to review our notes. Or, in this case, a misshapen cardboard box marked 1993.
What would you say to your 12 year-old self? What would your 12 year-old self say to you, today? #Dear12YearOldMe
Image via Stefan Junir