Even though this one was only a runner-up, it was my favorite:
"Stop dressing like a 60-year-old grandma because you're not confident enough to wear anything else. Light-wash mom jeans, turtle necks, zip-up fleece vests, and sweatshirts with puppies while wearing hiking boots are not exactly good looks. You can wear everything all the other girls are wearing, even if you don't think you can. Don't use bad fashion as a way of hiding yourself."
While these were specifically fashion-related posts (and boy howdy, could I give twelve-year-old me a whole lotta advice there- namely, stop wearing sweatsuits. Now.) it got me thinking about what it would be like to meet 12 or 13-year-old me and offer her some advice.
Me (39): Hey there! Sorry. Didn't mean to scare you.
|If only mine only had a skull.|
|Don't do any of this. But plaid flannel's okay.|
Me (12): Huh.
Me (39): But, you see, you've got some interesting ideas. You've put some things together that work. Wearing your dad's weird bright green hawaiian shirt with a belt as a dress? Really cool. Nice color, too. Keep that in mind.
Me (12): Get right outta town. Hot damn!
Me (39): Shit. It's already started. *sigh* Nope. It's true. So my advice to you- just stay weird. Hold onto it, even when normalcy is gripping on your ankles, trying to pull you overboard and underwater. And yeah, maybe you'll want to keep some of it underground for awhile. Hide that Social Distortion album in the Motley Crue tape case. Wrap Seventeen Magazine around Through the Looking Glass.
It's all gonna change once you get to college. You're going to meet people so strange you're milquetoast. You're gonna be vanilla compared to Edward Scissorhands down the hall. So go ahead- wear your alligator wristwatch on your ankle and sneer at the kids who make fun of you for doing so. Twist your hair up like Lauren Bacall in the 40s and ignore the girls who use a 2 by 4 to tease their bangs. Wear those black and white spectator oxfords, but for the love of peanuts, wipe them down and polish them every night. Do you have any idea how hard it's gonna be to find another pair that nice? Don't focus on blending in. Stick out. It's hard, it's wearying. And it never ends. You're gonna face a lot of pressure to conform, from some surprising sources, too. But resist! It is sooo worth it. And one more thing- most important of all- don't stop writing. Whatever you do. Even if it's just a journal for awhile. One of the hardest things you'll ever do is make yourself back into a writer.
Me (12): What? Why the hell would I run? Ever?
Me (39): You'll do it to get out of gym class. Don't fall for the hype. It won't ever feel better, even if you "just keep at it." There's no "runner's high" waiting for you.
|A toast to you, girl with the shades.|
Me (39): Thanks. I think I'm gonna rock it.
Me (12: Totally. It'll be awesome.
Me (39): What did I tell you about using that word?