As I continue on my journey of self-reflection I keep looking back at memories from the past. While I realize who I was in high school is not who I am now today and I am at 25 won’t be the same person at 30. I still feel a connection to the girl I detested when I was younger. The words ‘self confidence’ and ‘Alyssa’ were never used in the same sentence.
Even though I have tried to repress her I realize now I am still a certain version of her. My heart hurts for my younger self. If I could turn back the clock these are the things I wish I could go back and tell myself:
Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Background
Embrace your heritage. Try harder to learn Spanish. Be proud of the fact that you are Puerto Rican and come from a line of strong independent women. Don’t listen to the kids that make fun of you for it.
Stop wearing make-up that’s three shades too light for you because you want to fit in. You’re actually sticking out like a sore thumb and you’re going to look at pictures years from now and ask yourself why the hell do I look like a ghost?
Today people pay a helluva lot of money to be as tan as you.
And embrace your curly hair. While the artificial curls look nice stop straightening it every chance you get. Give it a chance to breathe and grow. If you’re going to straighten it from time to time at least use a heat protectant because you’re seriously frying your hair.
Don’t Worry About Dating
All of your friends have boyfriends but don’t feel pressured into thinking you need one too. There’s nothing wrong with being single and focusing on your studies or yourself. You’re still growing up and trying to figure out who you are.
You’re young and naive but you should still trust your gut. Listen to your heart but also your mind. A crush is fine but you’re not ready to act on it. You’re right when you say to yourself that sex is a big deal. Even though your friends and boys might not agree the one thing you’re doing right is saying ‘no’ and not having sex in high school.
Use Your Voice
You’re quiet, you’re shy and that’s completely fine. You don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not (even though you will at different points in your life). Don’t listen to your friends when they say you need to update your wardrobe or fix your hair. They’re putting their own insecurities onto you. If they say anything worse they weren’t your friends to begin with.
Stick up for yourself sometimes instead of internalizing it. God gave you a voice for a reason–use it.
I know it hurts when you hear someone call you ugly or fat and everyone laughs around you. I know it hurts when guys whisper they would never date you because of the way you dress or the color of your skin. But you’re letting them win by not saying anything at all. You don’t have to be rude but a sassy, “Honey, I wouldn’t date you either,” would at least make you feel a little less shame.
Stop Obsessing Over the Little Things
Before you know it time is going to fly and you’re going to look back and realize how much you missed out on because you were so focused on school. Every little test matters to you.
I know you try your hardest to be the best that you can be and to retain all of the information because some of the classes are hard but stop obsessing over everything.
Down the line doing poorly on one small test isn’t going to kill you. Take a deep breath, brush it off and don’t let it bring you down.
Ask for Help
Since you aren’t the prettiest girl, the funniest girl or even the nicest I get being the quiet one is kind of your thing. However, that comes with a price. Reach out and ask someone for help when you need it. Everyone assumes you get everything because you never ask questions.
Math isn’t your thing, right? Don’t be afraid to talk to the person next to you or behind you and ask them for help. Don’t be ashamed because you don’t understand something.
No one expects you to be an expert in everything–just yourself.
Stop Letting Fear Run Your Life
You’re afraid of your own shadow. I get it. You never had many friends growing up and too many people made fun of you so going outside of your comfort zone and trying something new isn’t ideal. You’ll join a club only if your friends do too but their interests and yours are completely different.
Go try out for a sport or visit some clubs that you’re interested in. You’re letting the fear of people making fun of you or reject you run your life so you never get to enjoy yourself. Just take a leap of faith and try something new and meet people out of your friend group.
You’re going to graduate and most likely never speak to the people you consider your best friends again. So focus on your wants and your needs.
What advice would you tell your younger self?