- 12 years old
- Salt Lake City, UT
- 29 years old
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Graphic Designer and Lettering Artist
This photo was taken at the very beginning of seventh grade–my first year in junior high. My friends and I all laugh at this photo now, but I was nothing but serious about my look that day. I had done some babysitting during the summer so I could buy some new clothes for school, and the new shirt I wore was selected very intentionally. I planned out my jewelry extensively, braiding a hemp choker necklace and painting flowers on the bead so that it would match the elastics on my braces. I made a necklace with alphabet blocks to spell my first name, and to top it off, I chose my favorite dolphin necklace to rest between the other two. I curled my hair under, curled my bangs to perfection, and crisped them up nicely with a bunch of my mom’s hairspray. I was apprehensive and extremely nervous, but I was hopeful that I would come off as cool and confident, even though I was the exact opposite.
I soon realized that I didn’t know how to apply makeup or wear the right kind. My glasses were too childish and nerdy, so I wanted some contacts as soon as possible. The clothes that I had thought were really cute actually weren’t. According to the beautiful, popular people I should have had was name-brand everything, but each time I bought something with a name brand, that made me no cooler than before.
I wasn’t picked on or bullied very often, instead, I was invisible. I knew everyone’s names in all of my classes and who they were going out with, but I’m most of them couldn’t have told you mine. I didn’t speak up very often. In fact, I sweated nervously and blushed each time I raised my hand, answered a question, or even had to read something out loud. I was too shy to say hi to the boy I had a crush on even though we had known each other for a few years, and I was too sensitive to laugh off my friends’ jokes, so I was a consistently easy target for them.
I was scheduled to have a different lunch than all my girlfriends. In order to avoid standing in the lunch line by myself, when the bell rang, I ran through the halls to try to be at the beginning of the line in the cafeteria. One of these occasions, a cool, athletic ninth grader stuck his foot out to trip me as I ran through the hall. I flew through the air and sprawled out on the carpet, flushing with shame and trying not to cry. I picked myself as people laughed around me and I briskly walked to the cafeteria.
Looking back, I feel sad and protective of this girl who used to be me and in some ways still is. I wish I could tell her to just be herself no matter what, because more people will like her that way anyway. I wish I could tell her to always be friendly, kind, and lift others up, regardless of how I was treated. I wish I could convince her to not care what anyone thinks (my current self could use a little more convincing as well).
I wish I could tell her that she has a bright future, full of adventure, love, and more happiness than she could have ever expected.