This week I had the chance to share some loving insight with Winnipeg's youth, 100 young women aged 12-14, as part of the YMCA initiative The Power of Being a Girl. I shared my story of being bullied throughout junior high, being tormented and ridiculed, called awful names, and being physically assaulted on the playground over a tetherball game. I told these attentive young women about how I thought in those moments that things were never going to get better, and I assured these girls, that no matter what shit it is you're going through now, it will pass.
To close, I shared a letter I wrote to my 13 year self. I figured I'd share it with you too.
How are you? Not good. I know... It's me.
Even though you've looked forward to this age your whole life, 13 seems to suck doesn't it. I'm sorry you're going through this. I see you: confused; sad; and oh so beautiful. Yes, even with your glasses and mousy hair. Yes, even when you wear that neon sweater your grandma knit you, and yes, even when you’ve been in the bathroom crying. You are are in the midst of what you’ll later refer to as some of the most difficult times of your life. It’s ok. You’re going to get through this, I promise. Not only are you going to get through, you’re going to thrive.
Stop worrying about whether people will like you. You’ll find your tribe, along the unbeaten paths on exciting adventures around the world, you will feel that you belong.
Please stop spending so much time and effort worrying about trivial things like if you’ll ever get boobs or a boyfriend. You’ll get both, and quickly realize that neither of them will bring you happiness. Instead of worrying, do things that make you happy, life crafting, writing, and taking pictures. Spend your efforts on that, even if the kids say it’s uncool.
Stop trying to please the popular kids, they will never be satisfied and you are never going to find your own satisfaction by looking outside of yourself. And don’t think that they have it all figured out. They are just as confused and sad as you are, they are just better at hiding it.
I know spending all your efforts focused on boys right now seems like a good idea. But I urge you to instead spend more quality time with the boys who are going to love you unconditionally. Like your dad and your little brother. They are going to be going to Heaven much sooner than you think, and you’re going to regret all those hours wasted on boys who weren’t worth the sacrifice.
Stay away from drugs and alcohol. I know in this moment, it seems like they’ll help you fit in, help you deal with the pain you’re feeling, and make you look cool. But they won’t. Stay clear.
Know that I love everything about you, even the things you don’t like about yourself or wish were different... I love. And you should too.
Big thank you to the YMCA for inviting me to be a part of this special day and all the young women who offered me so much inspiration.
Rachelle Taylor is a love warrior born and raised in the heart of Canada. This gypsy sprit searched far and wide for inspiration, beauty, and bliss only to return home to Winnipeg where she co-founded Prairie Yogi Inc + Prairie Love Festival as expressions of her love for creativity, yoga, and community.