Dear 13-Year Old Rachel,
At home, you know you’re loved and cherished, but I know at school, you feel ugly and insecure. You’ve had people say some really rude and mean things to you. You’ve been teased about your hair, your looks, and your background.
But I’m here to tell you, it will get better! People say those things out of their own insecurity. They feel small and want you to feel the same way. Don’t allow them to crush your spirit! I know sometimes it’s difficult, but trust me, it’s all about them, not YOU.
You know when people make derogatory remarks to you about being Puerto Rican? Trust me, it’s cool to be different. Fortunately, your mom and dad instilled a sense of pride in your ethnicity. So, despite other people’s ignorance, you held your head up and pushed along. Keep doing that. Your heritage is a wonderful thing. And eventually, you’ll find out just how diverse and amazing your background is.
Getting teased about your dark skin and your curly, wild hair? Not for long! Your beautiful curls will be your defining glory. You will even be asked to be a hair model some day! Crazy, right?
I know Farrah Fawcett and Christie Brinkley are all the rage, so you can’t see your own beauty. But times will change, and the universe will slowly start to notice that differences can be beautiful too.
Stop worrying about what people think. Stop worrying about pleasing everyone. You’re entirely too hard on yourself, Rachel!
Your kindness and empathy for others will allow you to do things and meet people you never though possible. Keep showing love even when it doesn’t always come back to you.
I know you feel confident when you dance, when you speak in front of others, or read aloud. It’s disheartening when people, who claim to be your friends, put you down, talk behind your back, and make you feel left out.
Believe it or not, you’re developing a strong sense of self. It’s ok. You don’t always have to be part of the crowd. Your family members are your best friends – they always have your back, and are always there to give you unconditional love and support.
It’s ok that no boys like you, except as a buddy, and you’re the only one not asked to the middle school dances. Boys are not important now. Stick to doing well in school, and just remember you are loved and appreciated. Don’t spend so much time thinking about what you don’t have, and remember to be grateful for all that you do. And you know what? You have A LOT!!!
Your 48-Year Old Self
P.S. Hair products for curly hair are going to improve astronomically, girl! You will be so happy! I promise!
Thank you to my friend and fellow O Mag Insider, Joshua Perez, who wrote a beautiful and poignant letter to his 6-year old self, which inspired me to write one as well. You can read his here.