A friend of a friend has started a web site meant to help inspire the next generation of women toward self empowerment. Take It From Us collects letters from women to their younger selves, letters filled with advice, insight, and perspective from life beyond youth.
It's easy to forget how hard it was to be young. Youth often gets wrapped up in an idealogical dream of better days, a world without jobs or responsibility, where your greatest worry was whether or not you'd make it home in time for your favorite afternoon cartoons. While aspects of my childhood were indeed magical, it wasn't the easiest time in my life. I remember being a kid, and I remember how much it could hurt.
So I'm writing a letter to Kid Me, which I hope will also serve to benefit little Babeleo, down the road (when he or she can read).
Dear Me at Six,
By now you've realized something about yourself, something inherent and unchangeable. You are different. You're different from other kids, different from other girls, and different from other people. Over the next ten or fifteen years you'll try to handle this in a lot of ways. You'll work hard to fit in, then you'll work hard to stand out. You'll go through periods of quiet acceptance, trying to just blend in and fall under the radar. Sometimes you'll retreat into your own mind, relishing the solitude. Other times you'll reach out to other odd-balls, and when you connect, these people will seem like the center of your universe.
No matter what you try, though, that feeling of difference, of standing apart and alone, just won't fade. Eventually, you'll come to accept it. With that acceptance will come peace, confidence, and validation. What led me to accept it wasn't a lack of strength to fight, or a weakening of resolve, it was discovering a truth about all people. You might not believe me now, but I hope that one day you'll figure this out for yourself.
You are different, but so is everyone else.
This nagging fear that you don't fit in, that unwelcome knowledge that you aren't quite like anyone else you've ever met, those thoughts and opinions that you keep carefully hidden, everyone has those things. Maybe not everyone realizes this so early, and maybe not everyone feels it so often, but believe me when I tell you that every human being walking around on this planet is secretly their own kind of weirdo.
One day, you are going to start waking up to this. You're going to discover that your individuality is not a curse, but a gift. You've stood out from the start, and when you do so with grace instead of fear, your life will begin to turn around. When you recognize what makes other people unique, you can embrace them as friends, and love them for what makes them so different from you. Some of them will even love you back.
You are different, but everyone is different. You are alone, but everyone is alone. We find happiness when we realize that while we are unique, our struggle is not. Embrace the differences in yourself, and the differences in others, and you will discover a world full of people just like you.
If you'd like to write a letter of your own, you can submit it at Take It From Us. If you blog about your own letter I would love to read it. Share a link in the comments below.