Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dear Shalyn of 2009

I wrote this as a Facebook note, but I think it also belongs on my blog. Sorry I haven't posted in forever. Life has been strange. More on that later. For now, a letter to my past self.

Dear Past Shalyn,

First off, people do not make notes on Facebook anymore, but this is probably the best way to reach circa 2009 Shalyn.
Second off, you are a perfect human being. You don't think so, but you are. You are the toughest, strongest, most beautiful person in the world. I know you look in the mirror and pick apart your flaws. I know you wish your acne would clear up long enough to take a decent profile picture. I know you wish you hadn't inherited Grandma's mousey brown hair. I know you think you're too fat. I know. Trust me, I know.
But I want you to take a second and look at yourself from a different perspective. What does your face look like when you smile? Not a 'posing for picture' smile, but a real, genuine smile. Like when one of your friends tells a joke and you can't stop laughing. Notice the way your lip curves. Notice the way your eyes crinkle. Notice the way your nose smooshes up. Notice your big, gummy smile. That smile is so uniquely you, and you would get so many compliments on it if you'd just show it off. I mean, you've got the straightest teeth anyone could ever get without having braces!
Next, look at your arms. I know you think they're flabby and kind of hairy and covered in all these stupid little moles. But again, think about them differently. Think about all the babies you've carried in them. Think of all the buckets of corn you carried out to the sheep. Think of the things you've lifted when people thought you couldn't. You are strong. Stronger than a lot of people think.
Now, look at your belly. It's kind of pudgy. It's soft, and smooth, and covered in stretch marks from where your hips grew too fast. It's pale from being covered all your life. That's okay. But you don't need to hide it. It's a really cute belly. You've got great hips and a distinct waist. Play that up instead of wearing XL t-shirts to cover it.
Look to your hair now. Look at how long and thick and full it is. I know you think it's an ugly color and that it waves weird, but you can change it to suit you if you'd like. Add some nice soft highlights, dye it red, dye it deep brown, dye it blonde, do whatever. Learn to straighten it, learn to curl it, learn to put it in a cute bun. You've been blessed with hair that grows ridiculously fast and full and shiny, and you get minimal split ends. Girls all over the world are begging for your hair. Love it.

Enough about looks. Let's move on to how incredibly tough you are.
You have not had it easy so far. Yes, people have had it much worse, but we're not talking about them. You have been through so much in your short life, and you will go through so much more. It will be hard, and a lot of times you'll want to quit. But if you keep going, things eventually get easier. When you weed out the negative people in your life and surround yourself with loving, caring people, things seem a lot better. When you start going to therapy regularly and take your medicine, things get even better. You are more than a chemical imbalance. And the fact that you have gotten so far with an untreated mental illness is just remarkable. You go girl.

I'm going to level with you. Things get worse before they get better. In fact, you almost die. You are left with permanent scars and constant pain. You have several mental breakdowns. You spend a lot of time crying in your room. You go to some really dark places. But you'll pull through. You'll go through rigorous physical therapy for months. You'll go to counseling every week for a long time. But most importantly, you come out on top because you are smart, and tough, and strong.

Your friend group will change a million times in the next 5 years or so, and probably more after that. But don't worry, your energy is not wasted on them. They are a very important piece of making you who you are. They are what teaches you infallible love and compassion. They teach you how to be a good friend. They teach you a lot of what not to do. Love them. Learn from them. Embrace them. You all need it.

You're going to fall in and out of love a lot. You fall in love easily and wholeheartedly. Never feel bad for telling someone you love them, if more people showed love, the world would be a much better place. You're often going to be the one who loves more, and that's okay. It's going to hurt like hell, but you're tough enough to take it. You're so good at loving. Keep doing it.

I know right now, and for much of the next 5 years, people aren't going to see how beautiful you are. Guys will walk right past you, girls will silently judge you, you will feel like crap. But you know what, screw them. You get hot, girl! Actually, nothing about you physically changes. But you learn to see the beauty in yourself, and that's what matters more than anything.

2015 Shalyn
A genuine Shalyn smile :)

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