"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Never Grow Up: A Letter to Eight Year Old Me

Now Playing: The Best Day by Taylor Swift (I don't know why all the trees change in the fall, I know you're not scared of anything at all, don't know if Snow White's house is near or far away but I know I had the best day with you today)

Dearest Eight,

Things are looking up. The bullying is always there, lurking in the background, but it's different pain now, okay pain. You're almost back to your normal bubbly self.

This is the year that you decide that you hate maths. Numbers don't mean anything to you and never will. You struggle through each piece of math homework feeling like a total idiot until eventually you give up and stop handing them in. It's better to be yelled at for being disorganized than for being dumb. Your teacher doesn't understand why someone as nerdy and bookish and bubbly and sweet as you has become one of 'those kids' who doesn't hand in homework but you've realized that primary school really doesn't matter as much as teachers want you to think, and they're all slightly irritated that you've come to this revelation.

Dearest Eight, this is the year of revelations. You find out what periods are from your cousin - well, actually you don't find out any more than 'blood on panties' and it confuses the heck out of you and you hope that you'll never ever get it. You do. It sucks. But it's okay. And then you find out what sex is and your mind is totally blown. Of all the questions you've asked it never occurred to you to ask about the birds and the bees. I miss the innocence before hormones cloud your mind. I miss boy germs.

But you only have about six months of boy germs, don't you, dearest Eight? Because one day you wake up and you realize you're head over heels with one boy or another. It's a dreadful affliction and I'm yet to find a cure. Loving people is the biggest ego bashing in the world, dearest Eight, and I know you're not ready for it. People aren't ready for you yet, and a lifetime later they still aren't really ready. But some things are worth the wait, dearest Eight, and even though I'm still waiting I never lost hope. I wish I could have found a way to keep you a little greener for a little longer. But no matter what, you're always up for more. I don't know whether you're brave or just stupid.

But you discover someone even cooler than snotty third grade boys, dearest Eight. Elizabeth I becomes your idol. You absolutely adore her. You're a feminist now, dearest Eight, even though you don't know what that means yet. Elizabeth I might have been dead for 500 years but she inspired a little eight year old girl to join the fight for women in a man's world. And I'm proud of you, dearest Eight. You're a wonderful nerd and I wouldn't want you to be any other way. Nobody else understands your fascination and your obsessions and your blind curiosity to learn everything about everything. But it will serve you well when everything and everyone else fails you.

Dearest Eight, today I sat on the bus with some trainwrecks who tried to hit on me and then got off before they could actually hit me. The things they talked about blew my mind away - I didn't know you could say 'cunt' so many times in a single sentence. I couldn't believe half of the narrow minded crap that they were spewing out. At eight years old you're a bona fide intellectual - not because you can write anything remotely coherent yet, but because you never lose your love of learning. You're better than they are, dearest Eight, I wish I could tell you that everything people say is wrong and weird about you, everything you have that they haven't is a gift, not a curse. Dearest Eight, never stop dreaming. Because when you're bullied and teased, when you're smaller and shorter and uglier than everyone else, your dreams are what makes you rise above them. Remember that, and you'll be just fine.

Nearly Seventeen.

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