The other day someone posted a writing prompt on a page that I follow. It was this:
If you could give your middle school self one piece of advice, what would it be?
At first I scrolled past and then moved on with my business. But, then I started thinking about it: what would I tell my middle school self? What would help younger me survive what were some of the worst years of my life? The very worst of which was eighth grade — you couldn’t pay me enough to redo eighth grade.
So, I thought about it for a while. A few things flittered around in my mind — then flittered back out within seconds. But then there was something — one single phrase — that I think would have made all the difference. That phrase?
Love — capital “L.” The good, big Love that is so very needed in this world. The kind of Love every awkward, changing, challenging teen needs to hear, feel, practice and experience.
So, younger me, I leave you this:
You don’t know me — but you will. You will be me, and I will be you. Everything you do and everything you see will become part of me. Your present is my past; my present is your future.
I will owe so much to you and the choices you make today and tomorrow and many tomorrows after that. So, let me offer you this one piece of advice: always, always choose love.
When kids in your class start picking on a girl who is, for once, not you, do not join in. Stand up for her; stand by her side; hold her hand — choose love.
When your little sister is driving you crazy and you want to pull out her hair and scream at her, sit down and read a book and play make-believe with her. Instead of fighting, choose love.
When your mom is balancing being a mom, a wife, a sister, a friend and a daughter, be patient with her and go easy on her. Choose love.
When the kids in your class are giving your teacher a hard time, making her job more difficult than it should be, speak up. Choose love.
And this one, dear Kimi, this one is the most important of all: when those other kids are saying horrible things about you (behind your back and to your face) so often and so matter-of-factly that you start to believe them, do not give up. Please, oh, please, realize how special you are and how much this world needs you. Do not choose to hate yourself. Instead, my darling, choose love.
This world can be unkind at times. Trust me, I know — you will live through some things so scary and sad that it will be tough to choose love. But more times than not, your life will be full of so much deep, life-changing awesomeness that you will know you were right: when given the option, my dear, love is always the right choice.
Oh, here’s a little piece of bonus advice: the more love you send out into the world, the more love you will receive. I promise.
I also promise that you will make it through these years and your life will be big and bright and beautiful. So, hunker down, keep your head up and choose love.
With so much love and admiration,