The following excerpt is from an email I received from a fabulous woman I know that touched me deeply (shared with her permission.)
This fabulous woman – I’ll call her Sonja – originally wrote this passage in response to a dear friend of hers whose child was gaining ‘too much’ weight. Sonja’s friend is sincerely concerned for her child and believes she is doing what’s best for her by focusing on helping her to lose weight. Sonja felt all the emotions of her young self well-up in her as she remembered being a young child whose well-meaning family tried to help her lose weight. She wrote a heartfelt email to her friend and shared with her what kind of help her 12-year old self truly longed for:
My 12-year-old self would have wanted you to look at me and tell me not to give a shit what society tells me I should look like… because becoming the best person I can be…whatever that may look like… is the most important thing.
I would want you to look at me and tell me that you have the same amount of love for me whether I’m my size now… or whether I’m 60 pounds lighter or 60 pounds heavier.
I’d want you to tell me to follow my heart, and to start doing things that really make me feel good… and to trust that I know myself enough to figure out what that may be.
I’d want you to say to me that even though it may be scary, in a world where all people care about is what others think about themselves… that the most important thing is to love and accept yourself, unconditionally… exactly as you are.
And that it will be hard to feel this way, because sometimes you’ll feel totally alone, and it takes work to remind yourself how awesome you are, when everyone else is either bullying themselves or bullying others. But if you stick with it, eventually the people around you will start to learn to love themselves too…
I have no idea what kind of an impact this email had on Sonja’s friend – whether or not she was able to really get this plea to reach out to her daughter in a very different way. The reason I chose to share this email here was because of the impact it had on me. I read these words and it felt as though my 12 year old self was being given a voice. This was exactly what that younger version of me longed for – but didn’t know how to put into words. I desperately wanted to know I was okay just as I was – no matter how big I believed I was, no matter how awkward I felt, no matter how fearful I was, no matter if I screwed up or got it wrong…
I read Sonja’s words and realized that even though I left 12 behind a long time ago, I still – at times – feel that same longing to be told that I am enough – just exactly as I am. And today, what I know for sure, is that the person I long to hear this message from the most is me.
Thank you Sonja for giving my 12 year old self a voice!