Tag Archives: student

*GUEST SUBMISSION* Letter 66: There Is Nothing Wrong With You

19 Sep

Allison writes:

Dear Me at 16,

The Author at 16

I have very few photos of you from this time period. You were always so camera shy. You felt the same way about a mirror. Even now, I still can’t quite understand why you were always so self-deprecating, self-sabotaging, and so very unforgiving. How I wish you could have realized this, then.

Right now, at 16, you’re headstrong and cocksure. You’re flippant and naive. You’re young, and you aren’t yet able to foresee the rocky road ahead. You are about to make some crucial decisions that will change your life forever — and, much later, you’ll feel as though you’ve lost your way, that you’ve both compromised your potential and jeopardized your future.

And I am so thankful that you were wrong…

I remember the last day that you were in high school. You hadn’t attended class in weeks. Your arch nemesis, your English teacher, will refuse to accept a late assignment. She’ll say that there’s no way you’ll pass the course. And then she’ll remind you that, at 16, you are no longer legally obligated to attend high school… and, at the time, it was the best advice you could have received, but you won’t know that, then. Blind to the learning curve ahead, you’ll curse at her under your breath and storm from the room. You’ll leave without emptying your locker. And you’ll have three and a half credits, after failing grade nine twice. But you’ll think that you can beat the system, and that education is a waste of time. At this point, you’ve been told that you’re stupid so many times, that you now accept it as the truth.

You’re going to believe this for five more years, and many, many dead-end jobs are going to crush your spirit. But you’re going to encounter many rich learning experiences that will help you to lift that heavy veil of ignorance. You’re going to slowly start opening up to the world and begin to find your place in it. You won’t believe this now, of course, but you will also learn how to love yourself, and, after a very traumatic hospital stay, you’re going to stop injuring yourself. You’ll always have scars, but, in time, they will serve as a reminder of not only your rocky past, but also of just how far you’ve come since those darker times. By 20, you will have grown to a point where you are capable of perceiving the beauty in this world, and the reality that you truly deserve to be happy. And finally, you will allow yourself to be.

You will let your father and mama back into your life, and you will learn to forgive others — yourself included — for past transgressions, hurtful words and moments.

And you’ll finally discover that you really aren’t stupid; you’re different, you’re definitely one of a kind, but this is a wonderful quality. And that, above all, you are resilient. And at 21, you’re going to go through a rather addling emotional experience that will lead you to the realization that you need a formal education.

At first, you’ll be terrified, but you’ll find yourself in a community college. This experience will not only redeem your sense of self, but your (amazing) instructors will also help you realize your potential… This will be the most positive learning experience that you have ever had at this point. You’ll do well in college, but you won’t write the GED that you planned on… Instead, your instructors will bend over backwards for you, and you’ll be permitted to complete an English course to fulfill the requirements for university. One university. And — which still astounds me — you’ll be accepted by that university as a mature, part-time student… The first year, you’ll discover that the ground beneath you is solid.

That first year has just ended… and, although you are still technically a “drop-out,” you’ve been officially accepted as a full-time Honours student. You’ve never been more stressed out, sleep deprived, or caffeine dependent in your life… but you’ve also never been happier…

You’re a straight-“A”-student, by the way.

More than anything, I want you to know this: There is nothing wrong with you. The people that have made you feel negatively about yourself only did those hurtful things because they, too, were unhappy in life. And they deserve your pity. And I know that, right now, you feel that life’s not fair, and that the world is a cruel place, full of cruel people, but the rest of the world is nothing like high school, and you will be able to overcome all your obstacles, trials, and errors. You won’t become stronger in spite of them — you will become stronger because of them.

I forgive you; I accept you; I love you.

And it was so worth the wait.

Carpe diem…

Allison Mackay is a fledgling writer, a born-again optimist, and a starving-second-year-English-student at the University of Western Ontario, who believes whole-heartedly that the search for beauty is the scavenger hunt of the soul.

“Dear Adult Me” Summer Series Guest Submissions

25 May

Up to this point, The Hindsight Letters has brought readers weekly Letters of advice written by Adult writers to their Teenaged selves. This summer, I’ll be flipping that concept around for a limited run Summer Series that will share Letters of advice written by Teenaged writers to their Adult selves.

I’m currently welcoming Letters from writers between the ages of 11 and 20 addressed to their Adult selves. Share some of the things you dread about becoming an adult (Jobs, Marriage, Families, Bills). Share some of the things you’re excited about (Independence, First Apartments, Finishing School). Discuss lessons you hope you will have learned by then. Give advice about qualities you hope you won’t lose. This is really a no-rules/all-fun kind of project. Just let your creativity roll with it.

The Hindsight Letters has readers spanning many different age groups. My hope is that this Summer Series will highlight the talent of our adolescent readers and allow them to share their stories in a completely different light.

If you’re a teenaged HL reader, or if you know anyone that might be interested in contributing, please feel free to send me an email at kyra@thehindsightletters.com or just submit your Letter on the About The Site page, preferably before June 15th. No matter what your story, skill set or background, I would love to read your Letter!

Take care, and happy writing!

Kyra

Letter 18: Don’t Run For Class President

27 Sep

Dear me at 13:

One of the qualities that I love most about you is your optimism.

In spite of being chronically unpopular, you still enter each school year with the belief that “this will be your year“.  That “this year everything will change”.

This is a big year for you, granted. Grade Seven. You graduated from Elementary School (as the valedictorian, no less) and moved on to Junior High. A whole new crowd of kids. A whole new group of potential friends who know nothing about your former status as the resident pariah. A fresh start.

Within your first weeks of attendance, you learn that the student government elections will soon be taking place. Grade Seven will be looking to elect a President.

“This is my chance to shine”, you think to yourself as you enter your name in the race.

Now honey, I say this with love, really I do, but PLEASE. DO. NOT. RUN. FOR. CLASS. PRESIDENT.

“Why?” you might ask. “I was President of my Grade Six class. I was valedictorian. I aced all my exams on the Canadian government in social studies. I’m responsible. I’m a great student. I’m PERFECT for this role!”

You’re right, honey. You are perfect for this role. You would make an excellent President. You would never miss a meeting and you would be on top of all your duties one hundred percent of the time. But here’s the thing:

It’s a popularity contest.

And currently, the only person that will sit next to you at lunch is the ESL guy that wears the really tight track pants.

Let’s be honest here. Your altruism is indeed a factor motivating your campaign, but you also have an ulterior motive: You seem to think that being elected as Class President will instantly make you a star. You are of the belief that as Class President, all the cool kids will suddenly flock to you and you will attend all the cool parties and have lots of people to eat lunch with.

Sadly, this is not the case.

Me as the Valedictorian of the Grade Six Class

It’s reversed: in order to become President, you first need to be popular. And that is a feat that cannot be accomplished in the two-week span before the ballots are cast.

You will run for Class President. Your Mom will help you create an “Ad Campaign” to promote yourself. It will be cute and clever but will quickly become your Albatross. You will no longer be the Anonymous unpopular girl. You will now be Kyra. That girl with the super dorky posters (sorry Mom) that lost in a Landslide election in favor of Adam Whats-His-Name. You will now be singled out on a regular basis as the token object of ridicule whenever the popular kids get bored.

I know that your efforts are coming from a really good place, sweetheart. But there is a bigger lesson to learn here:

You have (and will continue to have) a tendency to tell everyone who you are. To want to make sure that everyone around you knows what you’re about. Later on in your adolescence this will manifest itself in crazy hairstyles, clothing, and piercings. They will be your personal billboard to the world, proclaiming your brand: “Look! I’m not actually a geek! I’m a punk rocker! I’m not cool because I don’t want to be cool. Na, Na, Nabooboo.”

Here is the thing: it’s actually way cooler to let people discover who you are. On their own terms. To watch your actions, the way you live your life, and make their own assumptions. The fact is, they’re going to do that anyway. Manufacturing your persona, and then pointing it out to people only tells them that you care way too much about what they think. And that’s never cool.

So maybe pack away your posters and save your campaign for another year. Scope the place out a little. Observe. Be wise about the friends that you make. Maybe volunteer to help with the election in another way. Join some clubs. Take up some hobbies.

Most importantly: focus first on understanding who you are. Focus on loving that person, in spite of her flaws.

And if you can get that down pat, the popular kids are bound to feel the same.

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If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!