What I'd Say to the Teen Me

The fabulous Medicinal Marzipan is hosting a teen week this week. The intention is to share about your experience with body image as a teen — to share some inspiration with any young readers who might be looking for some. Many thanks to her for creating such a needed and hopeful project.

When I was in high school, I wasn’t popular. (I don’t guess that comes as much of a surprise.)

But I also wasn’t unpopular.

I had plenty of friends, in different “groups” (ah, high school cliques…), and most of the time I was at least vaguely happy.

But I wasn’t awake.

I don’t mean I was literally in bed (although, for me, that’s perhaps even truer than for many teens. I spent most of my Junior year cocooned in a migraine). But what I do mean is that I’d perfected a clever way of flying just under everyone’s radars – especially mine.

I was friendly beyond friendly.

Ms. Nice

Because, well, it was easier than getting picked on. And it was also easier than figuring out what on earth it would have meant to be me.

Now, I’m not saying I wish I would have been surly and angry all the time. (Surely, my mom remembers more times that I was than I’d care to remember myself.)

But I do wish I’d gotten into a little more trouble. Or been able to shake (even just a bit) the feeling that I was waiting for my life to start.

What I Need(ed) to Hear

At the time, though, I just didn’t think those things were possible. I despised my body so much that I figured the only way I could ever have friends was just to be SO nice and self-effacing that no one would notice my body. Or they’d overlook it because I was so busy throwing myself under the bus at every turn to make things easier on them.

Interestingly, as I reflected on what I wish I’d known then, I realized that these are still things I have to remind myself of from time-to-time. So here’s the support I’d offer to high school me (as well as current and, surely, future me):

  • That thing that you think will make no one like you? That’s probably what will make everyone like you in the future.
  • Having lots of friends is overrated. Having friends that have got your back is where it’s at.
  • Your body right now? It is omg amazing.
  • I know you think you look terrible in pictures. But looking back, you won’t believe how absolutely radiant you were.
  • People will still like you if you disappoint them.
  • Finding shoes that are both comfortable and cute is like your own personal miracle.
  • You don’t have to fight your body so hard — or at all. Unbelievably, letting go works really well.
  • You don’t need that newest diet book. I promise it doesn’t have the answer  you’ve been waiting for your whole life (because that answer’s been in you all along).
  • It’s okay to share your story. Other people love getting to know you – and more of them will relate than you could ever expect.
  • You are not alone.
  • You are not alone.
  • You are not alone.

And one more thing: you are not alone.

It’s not too late to join in this lovely project if you want! Here are all the participation details.

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    • http://www.clickthegoodnews.com Amanda @ Click. The Good News

      Thank you for sharing this- it’s what I need to hear now & what I wish I’d known (believed) much earlier in my life.

      • Anna Guest-Jelley

        Me, too! Glad it resonated.

  • Alexis

    What a great and inspiring post. I wasn’t the happiest of teenagers and I’m not always the happiest of adults. The advice you chose is definitely timeless. Thanks!

    • Anna Guest-Jelley

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Alexis!

  • http://www.waytenmom.blogspot.com Paula Kiger

    I love this — and although my parents did a lot of things right I think I’d throw in a little bit about “sometimes dads don’t know how to stop themselves from saying things about your appearance that they think are destructive but in actuality tear you down.” Coincidentally, I wrote last night about “7 sentences from 47 year old me to 25 year old me”: http://www.waytenmom.blogspot.com/2012/03/seven-sentences-to-25-year-old-me.html

    • Anna Guest-Jelley

      Beautiful piece, Paula. Thank you for sharing!

      And yes, I agree about seeing others’ comments. For me, I think I’d even make it broader — something along the lines of trust what you know to be true about yourself and ignore what well-meaning friends, family members, authority figures, etc. say about who/what you should be.

      • http://www.waytenmom.blogspot.com Paula Kiger

        Good point (re: comments of others).

  • http://www.rosiemolinary.com Rosie

    Oh, Anna, this was incredible- I related with so much. I especially loved your piece about sharing one’s story. Too often, we think we need to keep “secrets” in order to be liked when, actually, telling our secrets is what connects us. Thank you for that powerful reminder.

    • http://www.curvyyoga.com Anna

      Thank YOU!

  • http://www.sizeandsubstance.com Cristina Fahrbach-Connors

    So excited to participate in this project and read these great posts! I love your blog, btw. So true about the pictures, in high school I was convinced I was huge and hideous. Now I look back, and you see yourself in a totally different light. Thanks for sharing!

    • Anna Guest-Jelley

      Thanks so much for your sweet words, Cristina! SO glad to connect!

  • http://spiritualwoodstock.com/spiritual-awakening/ Karuna from The Gathering

    Although I am no longer a teenager, but am entering mid-life, I find the above points you’ve stated to be so true! Those things that make us unique in high school where we don’t feel we fit in anywhere ARE the qualities that draw people to us! And even as adults we can share our stories that we would rather keep hidden. When we do we begin to realize people don’t really have harsh judgements but can actually relate!
    Blessings and thank you!
    Karuna

  • http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/ Margarita @ Weightless

    Anna, I LOVE this post. I can 100 percent relate to everything you needed to hear (such wise advice!) and to being too nice. I wish we knew each other when we were teens!

    • http://www.curvyyoga.com Anna

      Me, too! OMG; that would have been amazing. Guess we’ll just have to settle for being friends now. :)

  • http://www.medicinalmarzipan.com Marzipan

    I connect with this post in so many ways – THANK YOU for sharing. I felt like I was nodding along with you as you repeated you are not alone. This is the most true of all. xoxo

  • Anna Guest-Jelley

    Thank YOU for creating this beautiful project! You are doing such transformative, needed work, my friend. I am grateful to be part of it!