From The Heart
A Letter to My Twelve Year Old Self
Inspired by an Oprah post, I thought about the spiritual significance of what I would say now, to a younger me and how little I spoke to that place I was in so many years ago. We often forget to be as vocal about our gratitude for ourselves as we are for what others put into the world.
I’m just going to get right to it: You have no idea how good things are going to get. They will first get really hard and then, like the peace that wraps up the world after a storm, you’ll realize that all of it made sense.
It’s not just a clever thing people are saying to help keep you sane, but the truth. Things things are genuinely hard right now, but they are going to get so much better. It’s not something to pretend or laugh away, because only when you know how hard it is are you going to be able to appreciate what it means to stand in your own strength. You were right in thinking within the depths of that beautiful heart that if it could feel so tough some days, then the good days would be absolutely breathtaking.
You’ve lost a lot and although you don’t realize it yet, you are going to stand to gain so much more.
There will be romance, dancing, first kisses, and understanding what those love songs were all about. I know you didn’t think it was true, and generally speaking didn’t think those things were something you would ever enjoy, but you will. You’re putting posters on your wall of trees and rock stars because you feel like it’s the right thing to do, even though you’ve had a crush on that one girl over the summer and really never thought you’d know what it meant to feel fireworks inside when someone looked at you, or to hold someone’s hand. You will do all of those things and my dear, and it’s going to feel so wonderful and exactly like those innocent first moments should.
You deserve love, and its definition will change as you get older, but I need you to know now that it will find you in so many different forms. Don’t write it off because you like girls. If anything, that’s one of the best reasons to believe in it, and your first kiss will be messy and awful and all the delicious things it’s supposed to be. It’s also okay that you wore out the tape rewinding and re-watching Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair in Cruel Intentions. You definitely aren’t going to be the only one.
Yes, Grampa would’ve loved you no matter what so don’t worry, even though he won’t be there to say it when you come out (and yes, you will come out one day). He would love you no matter what, so don’t let that be something that ever stops you from being who you are.
Remember to step away from the mirror every now and again, to savour how wonderful it is to have such a healthy body and mind. It is not the whole of you, nor is it the only way others will see you. You are so much more than the things you’re learning now, and the cruel kids calling you names, and telling you not to come to school the next day because you’ll have no friends. They could not have been more wrong about you- especially the ones who call you fat.
That’s the thing about bullies- they’re hardly ever right.
The world will see you for your smile. They will adore you for that infectious laugh and cherish you for your brilliant mind. Speaking of which, you don’t have to play dumb in some classes to avoid standing out. You were meant to stand out. It’s just who you are and though you wonder whether people will ever judge you for it, it’s okay to believe you’re going to do big things one day. You will, and the thought of helping others with your words is going to carry you through some of your darkest days and longest nights. It’s okay to hang onto that alone.
Even when you feel afraid, remember to speak from your heart and see the good in others, despite what they present to the world. This is one of your greatest gifts and though it makes you more of an outcast now, where others bully you and go so far as to chant hurtful names in classes, hold onto the thought that though you feel like you can’t get it right, you’re going to get there. Kids don’t understand what it means to want everyone to get along, and you’re the perfect combination of naive and trying desperately to fit in, but that longing for peace is going to be like a super power as you get older. Trust me on that one.
While we’re talking about bullies, there will be a kid who will yell at you in the hallway one day, while all your friends in grade nine stare, sitting huddled by the pop machine before school started, “Why don’t you just leave and go kill yourself or something. No one wants you here.” Don’t listen to him. Writing this letter, I can say that you didn’t, but just in case you get any ideas, you need to know that the world needs you in it. Take that moment and use it as fuel later, to bring a little more love into the world. It will take time, but you’ll remember that moment as the first time you understood that part of your purpose here is to bring light to the dark corners, because all you’ll want to do afterwards is find out how you can help him feel better. That my darling is strength, and it won’t be the first time you put others first and question your purpose.
You are going to know friendship and having people in your life who love you for all of the quirky things that make you who you are. They’re going to adore you through your best days and your ugliest crying ones too. Don’t worry, you will have a really incredible group of friends one day who love you so much, and who will see all the things you hope the world will see in you.
Another person you’re going to understand the importance of later is Momma Bird. He’s going to show you exactly what love means and all you have to do is stay open when you go to that first coffee night with Peel Pride. Trust me, it’s going to change your entire life and just for the sake of taste, go with the Peppermint Mocha even though it’s the middle of May. Stay open and even when he annoys you and you annoy him, don’t leave that “room”…stay in it because you both need one another more than you realize, though you will with time.
I hope you realize along the way just how wonderful you are. There are so few people in this world like you, and rather than feel different and that you stand out awkwardly, know that you’re standing out for all of the best reasons. You are more beautiful than you understand now, and no matter what others try to convince you of, you’re so deserving of the moments where joy steals a few seconds of a grin spread wide on your face.
The grin that lights you up for a few seconds will grow from seconds to moments to minutes to hours, and eventually it’s going to permeate your everyday. I won’t lie kiddo, there are still going to be days that are hell, but I can promise you the good ones are always bigger and greater in number than you know.
When in doubt, always give more love. If you do that one thing, it will bring you absolutely everywhere you need to be. One day it’s all going to make sense, and one day you’re going to be so surrounded by love that you can’t help but feel grateful for this life.
Love you, gorgeous girl.
About the Author
Cheryl Costello is the founder of The Finding Hearts Project, also writes for the Brampton Focus and formerly wrote at The Loving Instant. She has also worked with Fortune 500 and Financial Post 500 companies to bring greater attention, awareness and action for LGBTQ+ issues, giving the community a powerful voice. She has conducted workshops for LGBTQ+ students on the power of reclaiming their power through owning the stories they tell and was also a Keynote speaker at a Toronto World Pride event in 2014. If she isn't writing or organizing in the community, she's out with her camera, wandering a bookstore or out hiking among trees and water. Have a question you want to see answered on the blog? Stop by her page on Instagram, join in the good vibes and send her a message: @cherylalisoncostello