A Letter To My 9th Grade Self

Freshman year of high school, I started a word document called “In The Mirror.” I didn’t know why at the time, but I felt the need to write. From 9th-11th grade, this became my safe space for feelings that I didn’t know how to share with the world yet. I hadn’t looked at this writing since senior year of high school, until a week ago when I found it on my computer. It is now four pages long and I cry every time I read it. Below are the beginning paragraphs of “In The Mirror,” a reminder to my old self.

“I look at the reflection of my naked self. Pale skin, 5’4,” with deep, brown hair. The thick flesh that makes up my torso and my thighs mocks me from the pane of reflective glass that I have become obsessed with. The vision of my own body disgusts me, but I am unable to take my eyes away. I grab the extra skin that surrounds my stomach and breathe a heavy sigh.

The stretch marks that cover my uneven breasts tell me I’m not good enough and the ones on my wide hips tell me to stop eating. My own body, the temple that allows me to live, has become my greatest critic.

I found a journal from 2007, hiding in one of the drawers in my playroom. I was nine years old, a fourth grader. It was one of those lock and key journals that prompts you with questions such as ‘what is your biggest wish?’. My answer to that, scrawled in messy handwriting, and then locked away with the pink key was ‘I wish that I wasn’t so large.’ Even at the age of nine, I had a concept of my chubby physique. Even when it was just ‘baby fat’, and people told me that it would go away once I grew taller.”

My opinion on myself has changed so much since high school, and for the better. I now appreciate my body for everything that it can accomplish, rather than hate it for the way that it looks. I came to appreciate my body after surrounding myself with people who preach self-confidence and self-love. I wish that I had been exposed to this when I was younger, rather than feeling constantly pressured by media, friends, and family to look and act a certain way. After reading “In The Mirror,” I decided to tell 9th grade me, and anyone who felt similarly, some things I wish I had known at that age.

1. You are more important than what you look like. I know you have been told otherwise, whether that be by friends, significant others, family, or anyone else. You wake up and accomplish things, no matter what you look like. You are a great friend, and you will go far in life.

2. Enjoy high school, and focus on the people around you. Find a good group of friends who care about you, and who you can have important conversations with. It feels so good to talk about what you’re stressing over with people who actually care, and know how to give you advice.

3. Love yourself earlier in life. I know this is hard, but put your mind to it early on. The farther you get into high school, you will have less time to focus on yourself. Academics get hard, college applications start, and you have less time for self-care. Your health is the most important because if you aren’t happy and healthy, you won’t be able to get things done when you need to.

These are some of the things I wish I knew earlier in life, but I'm very glad I know them now. What would your letter to your 9th-grade self-look like?

 

Want to keep up with HCBU? Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, check out our Pinterest board, and read our latest Tweets!