Dear me at 17:
You’re sitting in the back room of a Queen Street tattoo parlour. Your boyfriend is by your side, holding your hand. You’re waiting for the piercer to come into the room and punch a couple of holes in a couple of very sensitive body parts.
You’re already regretting your decision, and it hasn’t even been made yet.
Let me tell you something here:
You are not a badass.
I’m sorry. I know you really want to be. But let’s face it: You’re an Optometrist’s daughter. You live in the Canadian suburbs. You like to eat chicken fingers and your Mother drives you to school every day in her blue Dodge Caravan. You’ve grown up in a neighbourhood so safe that you were able to meander your street with your jump rope late into the summer evenings. Neighbours would wave at each other as they took out their garbage.
Your family isn’t perfect. You’ve had your setbacks. But you’ve never once had to wonder whether there would be food on the table, or how you would purchase your next pair of sneakers. In fact, though they are blissfully unaware of its usage, the money to purchase your ill-fated piercing was given to you by your parents.
I’m sorry, honey, but I don’t think it’s possible to do anything remotely badass using Mommy and Daddy’s cash.
This whole badass deal began at the end of Junior High. You had been torturously bullied for being the token “good girl”. You wanted so badly to change your image. So you went about doing it the only way you knew how: running, full force, in the opposite direction. You chopped off your hair. You wore crazy clothes. You tried your darndest to become a “punk rocker”. Along with this came the piercings. First, all over your ears. Then your nose. Then your eyebrow. Now this wholesome little number.
To some extent, you achieved your end goal: You’re no longer the resident goody-two-shoes of York Mills Collegiate Institute. But this is more accurately because you switched schools. The bullies of YMCI have long since forgotten about you and moved on to some other poor unfortunate soul. But there you are, still sitting in that piercing room. Still trying to prove something to some invisible critic apparently stalking your every move. Who are you trying to fool?
You are sweet. You are naive. You are pretty. You love your family. You are a homebody at heart. You still sleep with the same stuffed animal you’ve had since you were three. Your favourite movie is “Little Women”.
You listen to punk rock because you love the music. You walk to the bus blaring NOFX “Perfect Government” and it sometimes gives you chills. But you also can’t bring yourself to sing along to all the f-bombs. It makes you blush. And though you sometimes try to talk the rich/poor political punk rock jargon, you will never be an anarchist. At the core, you feel way too blessed.
You don’t believe it right now, but these are all wonderful things. These are the qualities that will help you to build your truest and most meaningful friendships. These are the qualities that will draw your husband to you. These are the qualities that will make you an excellent mother (if I do say so myself).
Now listen, I’m not telling you to quit the punk rock scene. You Love the music. You spend hours sewing checkered ribbon onto your outfits and dance the night away at Slackers concerts and feel happier than you’ve ever felt. Those moments will forever be your favourite adolescent memories.
I’m just saying, quit punching holes in places you shouldn’t. Grab your coat, take back your parent’s money, and walk away. Don’t pierce yourself there. It’s going to hurt and look gross and you will most definitely regret it in your later years.
Quit trying to be a badass when what you actually are is a textbook Good Girl at heart. No matter how many piercings you get, that heart, and all the good inside it could never be disguised or hidden away.
And in its own special kind of way, I’d say that’s pretty badass.