Last week a friend posted a PSA on Facebook about melanoma entitled “Dear 16 year old me”, it was informative and emotionally moving. Later in the week, on The Rachael Ray show, Rachael asked Marcia Cross what advice she would tell her 16 year old self. The actress was quiet for a moment and said the question had made her quite emotional. Her answer was, “I would probably say what I’m still saying to myself which is ‘you’re OK’ because at 16 I was wracked with insecurity.”
Since last week I have been thinking about what I would say to my 16 year old self, and then today I read an email that stated that a girl's self-esteem peaks at age 9 and only 2% of women describe themselves as beautiful. I’m sure there are more self-esteem statistics that were left out of the email, but those two are pretty sad.
When I was 16, I acted confident. I had trouble letting people see me for who I am. Guess what? I still do. I prefer to hide my feelings and letting people in is really hard. So opening myself to answer this question, in a blog post, is hard for me. I decided I would because I have a daughter whose formative years of her self-esteem depend on me. Plus I am on a journey to be a better person.
Looking back to when I was 16 is hard. I made TONS of mistakes. I was making decisions based on my poor self-esteem. I wanted to fit in, yet stand out. I had a boyfriend who took advantage of my crappy self-image. He made me feel horrible about myself. He was controlling, manipulative, and just an awful person. He isolated me from my friends, told me I was too stupid to go to college and that no one but him would ever love me. He hurt me! I’m still recovering from issues due to that relationship.
In looking back, if I had a stronger self-esteem, I wouldn’t have been in that relationship. I wouldn’t have been in any relationship. I would have been having fun with my friends. On that note, I would have made better choices in regards to my friends. I wouldn’t have been hanging out with the “bad” crowd.
In my senior year of high school, I did have some good friends, who are still around. They helped me more than they will ever know. I was able to dump that loser boyfriend, I went off to community college, and I eventually met my best friend and husband who really helped me deal with my self-esteem issues.
So, what I would tell my 16 year old self is: you are beautiful, you are kind, you are smart, and you are loved for who you are, you are more than the choices that you've made, you are more than the sum of your past mistakes, you are more than the problems you create and listen to your parents sometimes, they may know something about growing up, they did it once!