I want to introduce you to someone very special to me.
This is high school Vanessa.
Yes...the awkward one in the middle.
I got to thinking about high school Vanessa today and got a little emotional and just felt like sharing.
High school Vanessa struggled. Hard to imagine I know. High school Vanessa moved to a new school her freshman year of high school. High school Vanessa had dreams about what she wanted her life in high school to be. She wanted to be popular. The problem is...high school Vanessa didn't know that no matter what she did..she would never be popular. But she doesn't know this yet. High school Vanessa was terrified of being different or standing out. If she liked things that would be considered "weird" she kept them to herself. She bought all the make up she thought she needed to be prettier. She tried buying the clothes she thought would make her seem like she fit in. She even let popular kids cheat off her tests freshman year because she thought that would make them like her more. High school Vanessa cared very very very much about what other people thought about her.
But high school Vanessa was not popular. High school Vanessa did not have status, money, or looks. High school Vanessa was awkward, overweight, and scared.
I got to thinking about who I am today. I realized that I am weird. I am goofy. I am still painfully awkward. And I started crying. I started crying because my heart hurt a little bit for high school Vanessa. High school Vanessa was spending so much time worrying about what other people thought about her that she never enjoyed herself. Don't get me wrong...high school Vanessa had wonderful friends. But she always held herself back a little bit. High school Vanessa was part of the drama club and all the school plays but never tried out because she was afraid. High school Vanessa lived vicariously through everyone else around her.
There are still days when high school Vanessa sneaks in.
When I'm looking in the mirror and telling myself I'm not pretty enough and that nobody will ever like me.
When I hold myself back because I'm afraid of what other people think.
It happens to all of us occasionally. But I'm so grateful that the majority of my days I can look at myself and be so happy with who I am today. Because I have worth. I am strong, powerful, caring, compassionate, funny (sometimes), and I love life. Sometimes I take too much Nyquil and climb banisters, sometimes I cry in sloth exhibits at the zoo, sometimes I make embarrassing lip sync videos and send them to my friends. It's just who I am. And I've adopted the attitude that if you don't like who I am....watch me be who I am even more.
I hope everyone adopts this attitude.
So welcome high school Vanessa. Thank you for teaching me things. I wish I could go back in time and hug you and tell you that you are so much more than the opinion of those who don't know you. That you are funny and smart and good. But since I can't....I'll just give you all the things now that you wish you had then.