You CAN have it all! And you WILL.
This post was written in response to the If I Knew Then Project, asking us who care about LGBTQ youth all along the sexuality spectrum to write a note to our younger self.
Dear High School Ms. Scarlet,
I’m writing this letter and will be putting it in a bottle and sending it back to you via a time machine in the hopes that you find it and know that everything will be ok and work out even more awesomely than you can possibly imagine. You will find happiness. Even though you aren’t popular. Even though no boys ask you out. Even though no one asks you out and you are too shy to ask them. Even though everyone assumes you are a dyke because you play soccer on the boy’s team, throw shot put, and are in martial arts. Even though you think you’re fat and ugly (you aren’t and ironically you’ll only appreciate your beauty once you’re old and have started to lose it). Even though you don’t wear makeup or do your hair in the latest styles. Even though you refuse to use a purse and insist on a wallet for practicality.
You are exactly where you need to be and who you need to be. Be strong and embrace it — and if others don’t like you for it that is their loss.
You are completely right in thinking that if you change for someone else, or to fit in, or to get love that you will lose something essential. Who can love you, if you don’t love yourself first? And how can you do that if you don’t have the self-respect to be who you are?
But in the meantime, study math and chemistry. You will need them to get through engineering. Oh yeah, and go sign up for that drafting class that you didn’t think you needed. The watered down version you took in 8th grade will be the most important class you took before getting to college. That and typing.
Stick with engineering even though you don’t know what you want to do yet. The geeks will come to inherit the world by 2015 and probably more so in the future. It may be hard and male dominated but it will give you independence and money to do what you want and not be beholden to anyone.
I want to tell you that I know you are obsessing over a bunch of boys. Who is it now? Jeff? Andy? Fred? Adam? Matt? Not really worth your time and by the time your 20th reunion rolls around you will see the bullet you dodged. Your tendency to be turned on by a lot of guys? Yeah, that doesn’t change. Not even with 17 years of marriage to your best friend. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you don’t buy into the idea that monogamy is the only way to do things once you fall in love. Before you are 40 you will figure out that having more than one best friend is possible and that having other friends is great too.
One last thing, you may want to reconsider that idea of yourself as the butchest straight girl you know. You may just not yet have found the right girl. And at your small town high school, who can blame you? If I knew then that the choice wasn’t just straight or lesbian, then maybe I would’ve come up with my own term back then. I’ve settled on mostly straight. About 75% straight. For now.
I wish I had figured this out sooner.
In the event that you do find this note, one last piece of advice: wear sunscreen.
I want that under-appreciated teenage beauty to last as long as possible.
This article was originally published at Life on the Swingset. Reprinted with permission from the author.