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A Letter to My Middle School Self

Dear Middle School Helena,

I’m going to just get this out of the way right now. Middle School is awful. Everyone (nearly everyone) is hitting puberty and hormones are shooting out all over this school in ways that are probably best left not thought about. I’m Future Amazing Helena, and I am here to tell you a few things I wish someone had told you then.

You are incredibly bright and talented. You are special and gifted; even if you mother keeps telling you that you don’t belong in a gifted program. You’ve hidden a lot of things from her because her criticism has stung and you don’t realize that she really loves you and just has no idea how to best convey that to you. No one conveyed it to her; it’s not her fault, just a sad fact of life in this part of the twentieth century.
You are emotional and you are an empath. Others don’t feel their feelings and so you take on everything they don’t want to express. No one wants anyone to truly know themselves in Middle School, so that’s a lot of things going unexpressed which you are taking on. You don’t need to take on their burdens, or their projections. They are projecting a lot of things at you because they perceive that you are somehow different. This difference frightens people. People who stand out in any way always frighten others – it has always been that way, in many times and many places. It would have been great if you could have had a role model to help you navigate all of this, but people like Madonna and Lady Gaga are not out there yet. You haven’t gone to college yet, so you haven’t heard about amazing female artists like Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe, women who were able to craft the lives they wanted in the ways they wanted.

It may be difficult to realize this right now, but you are going to have an extraordinary life, and you are going to fulfill many of your dreams. I say “many” rather than “all,” because I’m still working on a few things. One thing I can tell you from here – always keep moving forward, always have goals you are working towards. You may feel very unloved right now, but you will have so much love in the future that you will feel sometimes as though your heart will burst from joy. You will create friends, family, and home around you wherever you go, and many will love you.

This may come as a surprise to you, but you will be helping and teaching young students to find their way – both through the art that you help them to create, and also through the lessons you give them in and outside of the classroom. You’ve felt the kind of pain so many of them feel – that they don’t belong, that they are weirdos, that no one will love them – and they will respond to your compassion and kindness.

Times are hard, I know. Middle School is a cesspit of hormones, betrayal, acne, and depression. You are going to live through this, and you are going to blossom. I send you many warm hugs from the future, and I tell you to remember who you are, and keep your head up.

Much, much love,

Future Helena

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