Here one of my morning students, Miss Carrie, gives her younger self some life advice.
What would you like to tell your younger or older self?
Dear 16 year-old Carrie,
As I am writing this to you, you are 16 years-old. You are 16 years-old, and you hate your body. You cry endlessly about it, you starve yourself, you think no boy will ever love you and you look in the mirror and hate what you see. As your 29 year-old self, let me break some stuff down for you and drop some truth bombs all over this mess.
Look I get it. You’re in ballet and you will never be 5’11’’ and 103 pounds. You’ve always had hips, but that’s bone there, lady, and unless you saw them off, you’ll always have a bit of an hour-glass body, even at your thinnest. Maybe pursuing something that has a physically impossible standard for you to reach might not have been the best idea [you’ll never make the basketball team, either], but you love to dance so I get why you do it. And you’re raised with all the “beautiful” people on TV and their ridiculously thin bodies and they all talk about how it’s natural and takes really no effort. Well it’s not natural or effortless. I can tell you those people have nothing to do but to maintain that thinness, they sometimes use drugs to achieve it and at least half the celebrities you worship will be in rehab by the time you reach 29 with me. They’re also starving themselves just like you. Just wait until you see what they do to these “perfect” people with Photoshop. You’ll learn what Photoshop is soon enough. Perfection is a joke, there is no such thing.
And here’s the real truth: that is totally ok.
Think about all the time you’ve been wasting crying over how fat you are [which I have to say, at 5’4’’ and 110 pounds, is laughable, but teenagers are stupid. Sorry]. Did that do anything? Do you think your tears will shave down your hip bones or lengthen your legs or enlarge your hands? Why are you wasting time on the things you cannot change? Believe me, when you get into the world and you see how messed up some of it is, there is a lot of energy you can spend on trying to fix things you can actually change.
And those boys you’re so crazy over? Here’s something I know you won’t see coming: they love your butt. I know, that hideous thing at the back of you that no matter how much you starved yourself to get rid of you never could? Yeah, that one. Every guy you will ever be with will be borderline obsessed with it. You want to know why? Because it’s full and womanly, and apparently quite fun to play bongos on. So all these boys you think will never love you will actually love you for some of the things you hate about yourself right now. And if they love your body, why can’t you?
The amazing friends you have now will still be your friends in 13 years, so they are just as awesome as you think they are now. They’ll have spread all over the country [and world], but when you get together, it’s like no time has passed at all. You’ll make new amazing friends, too, people you share your soul with and they to you and it’s one of the best things in your life. And as much as you love them, they love you, too. For all the weird and wonderful and annoying things that make up you and I, they love you. I cannot stress enough to you how loved you are. And since you have impeccable taste in friends and trust their opinion, if they love you so much, why can’t you love yourself?
I won’t lie to you, you’re going to go through some shit. Some really bad shit. But you crawl out of the rubble every time. You’re a survivor and you’re stronger than you think. I’m here to tell you that you get stronger than you can ever imagine. You start taking Krav Maga and push yourself and where you used to pray for spaghetti-like arms, you will enjoy the muscles that you develop. Try not to pass out when I tell you that you will become 20 pounds heavier than you are right now. Ten of that is probably fat, you’re a woman and it’s natural [you also have a crippling apple pie addiction], but ten of that is probably muscle. It suits you. And beyond all comprehension, with that scary 20 extra pounds, you will love your body more than you ever had. Because it’s yours, you’ve put the work in and you feel the strength in you. It’s the combination of your inner strength and developing your outer strength. That +20 on the scale? It’s just a number. It means nothing, it is not you. You are strong and smart and funny and capable and you deliver a mean roundhouse kick. You will eventually stand up for yourself, not take crap from anyone and give back to the world around you. What is not beautiful about that? What is not beautiful about you? A number on scale? A dress size?
In short, just stop worrying about it, you’ve got far bigger fish to fry on this planet in whatever time we wind up getting here. You’re beautiful because you’re you. You may not be thin, but you are strong and that will carry a lot more importance to you as you get older, so try to relax. The world doesn’t end when you hit 120 pounds, or when you hit 130. And you’re actually really looking forward to turning 30, especially since you wasted so much time not enjoying or loving yourself through your teens and 20’s. So stop crying about it, eat a damn sandwich and be with the people you love. Make the world as beautiful as you are.
Oh, and don’t date a guy nicknamed Sleazy. It’s not ironic.
Catch you on the flipside,
29 year-old Carrie