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A Letter To My 16-year-old Self

Dear 16-year-old Duaa, 

I’m not going to ask how you are because I know how it is and I know things aren’t great right now. 

I know that life right now is not what you want it to be. You don’t know what you want right now and just the thought of that breaks your heart. More than anything, I know you’re hurting because of people that don’t deserve your love. I know that feeling of hopelessness better than anyone because I felt everything you’re feeling right now. Here are a couple of things I wish someone told me when I was where you are. 

First of all, there is light at the end of this very long tunnel, and while that may not seem apparent right now, you will find it. The happiness you see other people around you having may seem unattainable at this moment, but one day, you’ll see it too. You’ll experience it in so many ways but it will also be taken away from you. While the thought of you having to live that hurts, it pushes you to find happiness within yourself. 

For so long, you’ve derived your self-worth and happiness from what the people around you think of you – I still find myself doing that sometimes. That’s something that pushes you to constantly feel like you aren’t enough, and even though you go above and beyond to make sure the people around you are happy, your most doesn’t seem like enough. Stop doing that – stop thinking that what people think of you is what you’re worth. You determine what you’re worth, and that may not seem true right now, but one day you will teach yourself that. 

I know you’re crying over a boy right now, and I know you know he’s not worth it but you just want him in your life. Trust me – I know what it’s like to want someone in your life so bad but they don’t want to stick around. What you think love is right now, that’s not love. The hurt and pain you feel right now, that isn’t love. 

You will see real love one day. You’re going to fall in love and experience things you never thought were possible. You will feel happiness in its purest form and feel what it’s like to really be loved, but then you’ll get your heart broken. It won’t be the first time but this one will hurt the most. You’re going to feel like you’re not enough all over again. The pain of wanting someone in your life so bad, to sacrifice so much and still have them leave is excruciating. To fight tooth and nail for someone who was your whole world and not have that reciprocated, to have them give up on you is pain I wish you never had to understand. 

People are going to constantly tell you that you can control your emotions and control how you feel – I know you can’t. It’s hard to not want someone you’ve wanted for so long, someone who was always there. When he leaves, you’re going to feel so alone despite all the people around you because he’s the only person you want to talk to. Stop beating yourself up for missing his presence. It’s okay to feel like that because he was your person, and when that just goes away, it’s going to feel like the end of that world but it’s not. As much as you hate hearing “in time, you’ll feel better” because you’re tired of hurting, time does heal everything. As time passes, he’ll go from being a constant reminder of what was to a distant memory. I know you don’t want to let him go but you have to because he let you go, and you deserve someone who’s willing to fight for you too. More than anything, you deserve someone who’s willing to love you as much as you love them and willing to show you that.

I know you’re struggling with what you think of your body and how you think of yourself. I’m not going to tell you it’s all in your head because I know it’s not. The mechanisms you’ve developed to try and minimize that are not healthy – I know you know that. Body dysmorphia is very real, and as impossible as it seems, what you see in the mirror is not what’s really there. Eating is not a choice – it’s a necessity and you need to do it regularly. I know none of this seems true right now but it is. This is something you’re going to struggle with for a long time – I still do but you are so much more than what you see in the mirror and on the scale. 

Lastly, you are so loved. You don’t feel that way right now and you’re going to want to give up as a whole – I get it because I still do sometimes. You will constantly feel like you are easy to fall in love with but hard to stay in love with because no one wants to stick around. It’s hard to believe you are loved because you give out so much, but you don’t know how to understand that there are people in your life who love you just as much. We accept the love we think we deserve and I know right now, and for a long time you’re going to feel like you don’t deserve love. You will have the “why would anyone want to love me?” mentality for so long that it’s hard to see what’s right in front of you. 

That isn’t forever – when you start loving yourself, you start to see how much the people around you love you and need you. 

You are so loved, Never forget that. 

With all the love in my heart, 

Duaa 

Duaa is a third year journalism student at Ryerson University. Being a lifelong athlete if Duaa isn't on the ice or the basketball court you can probably find her watching hockey. Her main motivation in the field of journalism is to show young girls that they can do anything the next person can do, no matter what the world tells them.
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