Dear Maddie and Chloe (and in four more years Katie and Millie),
It doesn’t really seem that long ago that I was in 7th and 8th grade. My educational experience was pretty different from yours in that my class size was over 300 whereas yours hovers around 16. I never read Julius Caesar, though we did have a Shakespeare festival during high school, so I’m assuming that means we did read some Shakespeare at some point during those years. I was a straight A student, but I don’t know how much I actually learned, other than how to be a really good test taker and how to sound like I knew what I was talking about by writing a killer paper. Those skills carried me through college, too, by the way.
But there are some similarities in our experiences too. The middle grade years are rough seas to navigate. With all the other blessings and burdens of being 12, 13, 14-ish, we are also given the awesome gift of relational paranoia. Hours that could have been spent doing a thousand other things, thinking way more noble thoughts, were instead dedicated to convincing myself that *most* of the girls in my class and *all* of the boys in my class thought I was fat and boring. I was never a cheerleader. I tried out for the school basketball team in both 6th and 7th grade and didn’t make it either year. I thought you had to already know how to play an instrument to join band, so I never did. Anything I could do to divert attention from myself was exactly what I did. Except for those late-80’s Baptist-culture Little House on the Prairie jumpers I thought were so awesome to wear. I’m guessing those didn’t do a very good job of diverting attention from myself, but I digress.
Cool girls were in every one of my classes. Girls who were popular with everyone, including the teachers. Girls who looked cute in everything they wore and everything they wore had “Guess” or “Izod” on the pocket. Aunt Michelle and I begged for a pair of Guess Jeans overalls one year and we traded off wearing them. She was in high school and I was in jr. high, so I don’t think anyone ever really noticed that we shared them. Swatch watches and colored Keds. Those were my attempts at fitting in during those years.
But I heard the popular girls giggle and whisper as I walked by. I made the natural 13yo assumption they were making fun of me and I spent most of those years devastated by what I thought others thought of me. What never occurred to me at all at that time was that more often than not they probably weren’t thinking about me at all…
Girls, I see the turmoil that churns in your hearts at times. For one of you it churns much more rapidly. For the other of you, you keep it to yourself most of the time. But I wish with all my heart I could convince both of you that you’re beautiful just the way you are. I know. You may not believe me and I know it sounds cliché, but it is so true. And character trumps jeans-size both when you are 13 and when you are 38 and I see the character that is developing in both of you and I’m thankful. So very thankful.
But there’s a confidence that has to be grown into that, darn it, just doesn’t come naturally to most of us. And it makes living in community with our peers hard sometimes. I want you to know I understand that. And when I try to tell you to push through it, it isn’t because I don’t believe you, it’s just that I know these seasons pass. And then, like winter, they come back again, but then they pass again. The cycle of life you are experiencing right now will be repeated again later on, but the big difference will be in your growth as both a woman and a child of God. You may still feel the churning in your heart, but you will be able to better rest in the security afforded you in Christ.
Tomorrow night I will put on my only pair of nice pants and my black shirt I bought at Walmart for “nice” events two years ago. I will walk into a room to people I was so afraid of in 1992 and I will probably still be a little nervous. But the difference this time is that I don’t view my worth anymore by what I *think* they think of me. My worth comes, not on the basis of anything I have done, but only because of what Christ has done for me. I knew that in 1992, but I believe it in 2012. And it makes a significant difference.
Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Girls, my prayer for you at this moment is that you will not just know that, but you will know it very well.
I love you. I loved you through your baby years, I loved you through the grammar school years, I will love you through the rhetoric years and as an adult. But right now: I love you through the logic years, as tricky as they sometimes are.
I hope you believe that.
PS – There may come a time during high school when you think it would be a really good idea to ask one of your friends to ask her boyfriend to call a boy you like and see if he might want to take you to a school dance. Please don’t do that. You might regret those foolish five minutes for the next twenty years of your life.
7 thoughts on “On the eve of my 20th high school class reunion”
Well said! I agree with this 100%!!!
Oh, Meagan, this made me cry! It’s all true too. A thousand women can tell a young girl she is lovely and perfect just the way she is, but too often she won’t believe it. It is tough stuff to be a teen girl. My heart goes out to you as you watch your girls wrestle with these challenging days and to them as well. May God fill their hearts with knowledge of how precious they are just the way He made them. It is a cycle, isn’t it? I still wrestle with some of this, but it’s true, it’s different today. Hugs to you as you walk through the doors this weekend!
Very well said! I work with high school girls at church and as much as I try, it is very hard to convince them they are beautiful and all the trials and tribulations they are going through will pass. I have always wondered why people tell high school kids, “These are the best years of your life!”, because they weren’t for me nor were they for many people I know. Popularity is VERY overrated, even though while in high school, that is all that seems to matter. I was never invited to any parties or to senior skip day, not that I would have gone anyway, but the invitation would have been nice. It is to know I wasn’t alone, even though it felt that way! As for your, PS, I had much the same experience, except I actually am the one who called and it was a disaster and one I still regret. It is truly amazing how a “boy” can completely devastate a girl and not think twice about it. Among many lessons I am teaching my boys is no matter what your friends think, ALWAYS RESPECT OTHERS FEELINGS, no matter who they are or where they come from, because Jesus died on the cross for them the same as he did for you! God Bless and have a great time this weekend! I will be there in spirit!
Awesome post! I’m going to have my 12yo read it. It is tough to be a teen/pre-teen with all that pressure to fit in.
We went to the same high school, right? (albeit 11 years and about 1,000 miles apart) It’s all true–the worry and the heartache, but also the love and the compassion and the Truth of the gospel. Thank you, Megan, for being honest with your girls and for sharing this with the rest of us. I hope your Reunion is lovely. I also hope your girls take this for the love it truly is and hide it deep within their hearts (to remember when someone else is less than kind). 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing this post with us.
Megan, Thank you for being a voice for us that don’t blog, or write, or even know how to talk about such things. I have read this a few times now. Tonight, I review it again because I am there, a bit different, but all the same. I am a young girl who is taking in what others are saying, allowing satan to twist it up in my mind, and causing confusion. Big confusion. Hurtful confusion that involved others. I doubt my worth. I expect that people also doubt my worth and all Hell breaks loose in my mind. I am clinging to the hope that someday I can be at the place where you are.