Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dear Self in The 90's

I was a late bloomer in almost every way imaginable. I burst forth from my mother's womb a month early and I guess I was not impressed because I've been sort of a back-of-the-line girl ever since. Which is fine. I'm perfectly okay with that.
It is rumored that I was potty trained quite early on but an illness caused a little regression in that area. I'm not ashamed. I'm totally house trained now, and that's what counts.

I read this article called The Rush to Maturity over at The Curvy Girl Guide and it made me think about myself as a girl.

I was always slow to move along but always so anxious to do so. I was a nervous and sensitive type. Even as a little one, I was always concerned about everyone else's feelings. Despite the fact that I was not a terribly affectionate kid, my parents nick-named me Lovey Libby which embarrassed me because I did not think I was particularly loving or kind in my spirit--I was just afraid of attention.
I wanted to fly under the radar. I never sat in the back of the class and I never sat in the front. I was a B student. When it was my birthday and my mom had to make snacks, I remember insisting that she make chocolate and white in case some kids didn't like one flavor.

So while I was all concerned with everyone else and their feelings (and even the feelings of several inanimate objects), I always held the door for them. I let them be at the front of the line--because they wanted it more than I did. I let them win at games, because they clearly wanted to win and I was indifferent. (Even now, I'm not a competitive girl. I don't like playing games who have winners and losers because I always feel kind of bad when I end up winning.) It was never about the fact that I genuinely cared about everyone else though, I just knew that I was afraid of attention. I didn't want to be the first. I didn't want to be the last. I didn't want to be memorable. Now, that's all I want.

I was afraid of a lot of things. I was afraid of being wrong, so I never raised my hand in class. I was afraid of being slow, so I never played soccer at recess even though it looked like the other kids were having so much fun. I never wanted to look uncool so I never expressed any enthusiasm in anything--just in case I was enthusiastic about something particularly lame. And the whole time I was counting the days until I was older. I remember being 12 and thinking that when I was 13, then I'd probably finally break out of my shell and not be so scared of everyone and everything. I remember being 13 and thinking that 15 wasn't too far away, probably once I was fifteen then I'd finally be normal and cool. Until then, I'd just sit and wait. Guess what, "normal" and "cool" never showed up until those things were no longer important. Which is undoubtedly for the best.

Dear 1990's Libby,
I wish I could go back and tell you to not be afraid because life hurts whether you sit down or run so you might as well stretch your muscles.

I would tell you that DJ Tanner is the
only girl in the whole world who is going on dates. You will not realize this until you are in your mid-twenties having drinks with your friends when you all discover at the same time that none of you have ever been on a date.

I would go back to that 5th Grade health class where they give you tiny books filled with shocking diagrams that explain the mystery that you discovered that one time you accidentally walked in on your 17 year-old cousin in the shower and wondered, probably out-loud, "Hair?! There?!" I would remind you that even though you are holding this book at the tender age of eleven, no one is yet going through these changes. This is not the newest normal that you're not keeping up with. I know that's how it feels but that's not the case. Stop looking at the other girls in your class wondering if they've started their periods yet. (But, probably gather the gumption to ask your mother for a bra much sooner than you actually do because--let's get that all under control early on, shall we?)

Please understand that you won the menstrual lottery when yours decided not to start until halfway through your 14th year. Also, everyone makes jokes about how a woman needs all of the chocolates during this time but I'm going to save you a lot of time and tell you right now that your chocolate is french fries and Pepsi. Try to limit your intake of these things during downtime because when it's on it's on and you will be shocked and ashamed to find yourself in a McDonald's drive-thru twice in one day. Just admit it right now that this is your lot in life. It's going to be a long 40 years.

Stop wondering if you're normal. If you don't understand this right now, you'll be nearly thirty before it hits you that no one is--which means that everyone is. Your body is perfectly normal. Your brain is perfectly normal. Your heart is perfectly normal. Your doubts--perfectly normal. You. Are. Perfectly. Normal.

Ah, but you know what? Don't change. Don't develop your confidence too early. Who knows who I would have become if you'd been thinner or more pretty. I probably would have a lot more regrets. Plus, it doesn't matter because you will develop confidence and you will become pretty and a lot of other important things at a time in your life when you're better prepared to deal with it. Even if it does feel much later than everyone else.

Don't stop looking forward to what's ahead of you but do start to take mental, appreciative notes of what you're in right now. You'll never really stop thinking that things will be better or more fun or more straightened out in a year or so. I think that's okay in moderation.

I love you and it is hard and lonely in places but I'm here to tell you that it will all be worth it.
You in 2011

So, I read that article and it didn't just make me reminisce about my own growing up--it made me anxious and hungry to hear about my friends when we were all young and weird. Katie and Staci said that they would blog about it (and I'll link to them when that becomes an option) but what about you? What kind of a kid were you? Tell me in the comments or email me and I'll throw you in as a guest blogger. At any rate, keep checking this little blog and the comments to hear more stories. I feel like we all have something to share about this.


Katie Hurl said...

This is exactly the way I felt growing up. It makes me feel better that I wasn't the only one who felt this way, but at the same time it makes me feel sad to know that there are more people out there that feel like that! What a conundrum.

Ani said...

this was so nice to read. i was more of a "don't run because you fall a lot and look like a doofus" type girl but the general camaraderie is nice to experience. : )

Laurie said...

Thanks for writing honestly and making me feel okay too!
To give perspective, my HS graduation was in 1979, so I have had more time span to look back and view myself as a kid (and wonder), but that doesn't even matter! You wrote about timeless truths!

I'm thinking about what kind of kid I was. I was some afraid too.

The word verification word is "sting".

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