This is what I looked like when I was thirteen. I was a big dork. And, let’s face it, I’m still a big dork.
I had this weird emotional, I don’t want to say relationship, but maybe, attachment to, or reliance on my older self. For example, I was the last of my friends to get boobs, and I would constantly think about my older self and my (future) giant rack.
“Just wait ’till I’m in high school and my boobs are bigger than everyone else’s.” I once wrote in my diary.
I had a lot of self esteem issues– what teenage girl doesn’t?– and I think I dealt with them by dreaming of the future when these struggles would no longer be an issue.
To this day, I sometimes look in the mirror and think to myself, “If only thirteen year-old you could see you now. She’d be so happy you turned out so cute.”
One random afternoon when I was around thirteen, I was lying in my bedroom, doodling in my diary and watching Lizzie McGuire, thinking about getting older, when I had a stroke of genius: I’m going to write a letter to my older self!
I immediately grabbed a notebook and started writing. I decided I would read my letter when I turned eighteen because I’d be so old by then. As I was writing I thought about becoming an adult, having a real boyfriend, having sex! Oh my God. Would I ever really be old enough to experience these things?
And I started to feel a little nostalgic for my young days. The ones I was living right then, but couldn’t wait to get out of. It’s a nice little paradox when you think about it: 13 year-old Becca thinking about being 18 year-old Becca feeling nostalgic for the innocence of 13 year-old Becca. Ha.
After finishing up my letter, I sealed it in an envelope– licked and taped for good measure– and labelled it with the warning: NOT TO BE OPENED UNTIL APRIL 16, 2007.
I gave the letter to my mom with strict instructions:
“Put this somewhere safe, and I want you to give it to me on my eighteenth birthday. It’s really important, so don’t lose it.”
“What is it?” she asked, flipping the envelope over to read the warning.
“It’s a letter from me, to my older self,” I told her matter-of-factly. “I need you to keep it, so I’m not tempted to open it before I turn eighteen.”
“Oh,” she smiled and nodded. Putting on a serious face, she marched into her bedroom and hid the letter in her underwear drawer– where everything that needed to be kept safe went, obviously.
The years passed, my boobs did get (a little) bigger (it wasn’t until college and I gained some weight that they really met my expectations). I got a real boyfriend, I was a cheerleader, I was getting ready for college, I was going to parties and smoking cigarettes, and just being all-around cool.
As “cool” as I was, I never forgot about that letter. So when my eighteenth birthday finally rolled around, I couldn’t wait to read it.
We were sitting around the kitchen table, eating cookie cake when I brought it up.
“Mom, do you have that letter I gave you?”
“The one I wrote to myself when I was like thirteen!”
She blinked at me.
“Seriously?! Did you lose it?”
“I didn’t think you’d remember! I don’t think I actually threw it out. I just don’t know where it is.” She got up to go look for it in her underwear drawer.
I looked over at my BFF and my super cool, in-a-band boyfriend and rolled my eyes, but inside I was crossing my fingers; I really hoped she still had it. My mom came out of her bedroom empty-handed.
“I’m really sorry honey,” she said, “but I can’t find it.”
“It’s fine. It’s not a big deal,” I said nonchalantly, even though I was totally devastated.
Fast forward another few years, through college, to twenty-something Becca; I was cleaning things out, getting ready to move into my new apartment with my much-cooler, future-husband boyfriend. All of a sudden, my mom came flying into my bedroom.
“Guess what I found?!” she shouted, waving an envelope around giddily.
“What is it?” I asked, looking up from the pile of notes that I had saved from high school.
“It’s your letter! The one you wrote to yourself!”
“The one you couldn’t find on my eighteenth birthday?” I said, narrowing my eyes at her.
“Yes. Whatever. I didn’t think you’d remember. Or maybe I just forgot about it. You were kind of strange.”
“Where was it?” I asked, reaching my hand out for the envelope.
“In my underwear drawer.”
“Seriously? I checked in there so many times for it!”
“Really? You weirdo!” she said, flicking me.
I ignored her, studying the envelope and my goofy, loopy, seventh grade handwriting. I opened the envelope and started reading the letter out loud…
First of all ~*HaPpY BiRtHdAy!*~ Obviously, it’s almost my 13th birthday! Hehehe As I’m writing this I am thinking OMG! I’m sooooo scared to grow up. I’m not sure y exactly but I am! Wow! While your reading this today should be April 16, 2007 I should be 18 years old! Wow! I’m old lol! So do I know wat college I’m going to? @ the point in my life I am rite now my plan is to either just go to Saint Xavier or to start @ Moraine Valley 4 my 1st 2 yrs & then go to Saint Xavier but hey! it could’ve changed! Do I still want to open my own photography studio? B4 I go on I just want 2 say this is kind of scary writing to myself actually the 18 year old me! Am I still friends with Kate? Amy? What happened with Amanda? How is my puppy Baby? What about Precious? Is she alive? I hope so! Did Baby and Precious ever get along? Did I ever go out with Tom? Do I have a boyfriend rite now? Am I in love? Do I still play softball? I wish I could know all these answers now but I can’t. @ least by the time I’m 18 I’ll know what I wondered when I was 13. Another question. Have I had sex? What was it like? I know I’ll be reading this 5 years from now OMG I was such a dork. I hope that I am reading this with someone and laughing whether it be mom, dad, Rachel, Kate (if we’re still friends, my boyfriend, whoever. I have to go cuz I’m tired & stuff but always remember a few things 1. Enjoy life 2. Life goes on no matter what 3. always love family & friends 4. Love yourself! Again **~HaPpY 18th bIrThDaY! I love you! I love my family & alwayz will! Bye!
Rebecca Jane Garner
almost 13 years old
P.S. Another thing to 2 remember (5.) Keep your head up high!
P.P.S 2morrow is Sunday 4-7-02 the day b4 I go bac to skool from spring break!
“This is gold.” I turned to look at my mom, who was a little teary. “Seriously? You just called me a weirdo thirty seconds ago!”
“I know, and you are, but you’re my weirdo,” she said, pulling me into a hug. “Let’s read this to Steve!” she said, perking up.
“No way! I don’t know if he’s ready for this level.”
“You’re moving in with him, he better be ready!”
In case you’re wondering: No, I am not friends with Kate and Amy any more. No, I never went out with Tom. Precious and Baby both died (and never got along prior to that). I had had sex by eighteen, and it was eh, but I did love him so it was ok. And most importantly, I stopped writing like that.
You can tell I was feeling that weird nostalgia at the end (I love my family and alwayz will); I remember getting to the end of the letter and being afraid that eighteen year-old me would be reading it alone without my family or something scary like that.
But I have to say, thirteen year old Becca did indeed spew some wisdom. And it’s probably better that it wasn’t until I was twenty-three when I found this; I think I appreciated it more, and I was able to appreciate my level of dorkiness and the early nostalgia thirteen year-old Becca was feeling differently than I would have when I was eighteen.
And I’m glad I’m still a dork. I’m quirky, as my husband likes to put it, and it’s one of the things he loves about me actually. (I swear, it’s true! He said it in his vows!)
Thirteen year old Becca would be happy to know that I’m surrounded by wonderful people, whom I love very much, and who accept my quirkiness. No need for her to fret either, I still love my family, probably even more now than I did then (I definitely like my sister more now than I did back then). Even though I never went out with Tom, she’d be thrilled to know I married a hunk of a man who loves me, every weird bit. And I know she would appreciate how good my ta-tas look in a push-up bra.
You made it, girl.
Love you! Bye!
Rebecca Jane McDermott
27 years old