[on otherness]

Dear 19-year-old Courtney:

Where do I even begin? I've wanted to write you this for a while but every time I do, I talk myself out of it. I don't know why. I just do. But today I'm following through.

Things are confusing right now. Times are dark and scary. I get that. Really, I do. Remember I was you once. I stood where you stand. I felt what you feel. But there are a few things I wish someone had told me then. So I'm telling you them now.

I know you want to fit in. I know you want to look like the other girls at the frat parties, that you feel like no one will see you if your cleavage isn't showing or your skirt isn't micro mini. But that's just not true.  The truth is, there's nothing sexy about that. I know that sounds counterintuitive to you right now but it's true. All that look says is desperation and low self esteem. It says "I am only good for one thing" and "it's totally okay if you don't call me tomorrow".

I'm not saying dress like an old school marm, covered from collarbone to ankle. Keep this quote in mind when you're getting dressed: let your dress be tight enough to show you're a woman but loose enough that people know you're a lady. I think Marilyn Monroe said that but I'm not sure. The point is this, regardless of who said it: self respect is infinitely more attractive than a low neckline will ever be. Value yourself. Love yourself. If you don't, you'll keep attracting those creeps that you hate. You know it's true. When you go out, that super awkward, super sleazy guy always approaches you. Dress with self respect and watch a whole new (& improved) caliber of man come knocking.

And while we're on the subject of appearance, embrace yours. Stop straightening those curls. I know nobody has them but that, my dear, is exactly what makes them so beautiful. They're unique, just like you. And when you get older, people will compliment you constantly & tell you how jealous they are. Embrace those curves too. I know you want that straight, slender boy figure that the women on TV have but what you have is pure woman. Love that. Don't shy away from it or hide it. You also have a fabulous sense of style. So what's with all the tshirts? It takes just as much time to put on a nice outfit as it does a tshirt so step up your game. Don't worry what everyone else is wearing. Wear what makes you happy.

Take care of yourself. Slow down on the drinking, develop healthy eating habits, and get used to working out regularly. Again, and I can't say this enough, you're worth taking care of. Don't get vain and obsessive, but don't destroy yourself either. Stop telling yourself you can't run. You absolutely can.

Taking care of yourself is about more than eating healthy and working out though. Meditate. Journal. Say no when you don't want to do something. Save some money. Budget. Think things through.

Most importantly, get to know Jesus. I know you don't believe in Him right now. But if we scratch below the surface of your pseudo-intellectual atheism, I think you'll find that you do believe. You're just mad as hell at Him right now. I know you're having a hard time wrapping your mind about how He could let these bad things happen to you. I still don't have the answer to that.

But I can tell you this. This time is your proving ground. When you get older, you'll be stronger than you ever thought possible. You'll bounce back from all of life's curve balls. You'll also know your limits. You'll know who you are, what you stand for, and where  you've been. And that is true freedom. Freedom isn't just doing whatever you want. You know that already but you won't admit it. You know that because you're not happy. At all. You have that version of freedom and it's not feeding your soul. It's bleeding you dry and leaving you empty.

So stop running. Stop fighting.

Go back to church. Even right now, even as you run, He's with you. Remember the Bible story where God walks through the Garden of Eden and Adam & Eve hide because they're embarrassed? That's you right now. You're hiding because you're embarrassed. Don't be.

He still loves you. Dearly. He's forgiven you a long time ago. He'll help you forgive yourself, if you let Him. You're not too far gone. Come back to Him. When you do, you'll find the peace you're so desperately seeking. The confidence too. And trust me, that's worth more than any popularity could ever be. It's not hollow like the popularity. It's deep and fulfilling. It's beautiful.

Most importantly, know this: you are loved. People are not judging you. Not in the least. A little mystery, a little otherness is a beautiful thing. It will get you farther in life than trying to blend in ever will. Never forget that.

I love you.


No comments:

Post a Comment