'Twas fully twenty-four years ago when this photo of me was taken:
Dang, I was green. There was so much I feared that needn't have been feared... so much I thought I knew that I really had not the first clue... so much that went untapped because I had so very little self-confidence and self-assurance.
I know exactly what I would tell her (if I could go back in time) because it's the same thing I tell my students every single day:
1. You are wonderful and beautiful and awesome, just the way you are.
2. You aren't now who you will eventually be.
3. Everyone else around you hates something about themselves, too.
4. No boy/girl is worth as much emotional energy as you expend on them.
I know it probably falls on deaf ears, or at least insensate ones. But I have to keep telling them in hopes that someone WILL hear and overcome all the needless angst I suffered through.
In college, I sat down to speak with a professor who also did one-on-one counseling. He told me something that literally formed the foundation of my emotional recovery: It's Not Your Fault. I was laboring under a huge burden that whatever was wrong must necessarily be because I failed somehow to reach my potential or my capability or whatever. He began the liberation process in my mind by freeing me from that responsibility.
These are things that I wish I could've grasped back in the fall of 1984 as a senior in high school. Alas, the innate self-centeredness of youth and the inherent assumption that everything's new and has never happened before EVER -- these are what prevented me from progressing. Maybe I'll make headway with a few others, maybe not. It's worth a try.