Friday, August 26, 2016

Dear High School Me,

It gets better.

Just had to start with that because it's important that you know. Because you don't even know what awaits you. Because six years ago today, you were getting ready to start high school.

I'm writing to you because you never listen to anyone else. I know you probably won't listen to me either, but I do know you better than anyone else. Wanna test me? You're fifteen. You just broke up with the first boyfriend you swore you loved. {Don't get too down on yourself, there will be plenty more situations just like that}. You just received your first journal from your mom because she was worried that you weren't channeling your pain productively. You just finished the worst two years possibly imaginable: Jr. High. It was brutal. It was so awful that you sought to make yourself someone you weren't. But there's no need for that honey, and this is your chance to start over.

Don't get too excited. This chapter of your life will hold plenty of other disappointing scenarios. Sure, you'll grow from them. You'll make some much needed mistakes. But you'll make some stupid ones, too. So I'm here to keep you company. To try to prevent some of those stupid mistakes, and to be there for you when those needed mistakes happen. I could tell you what they are but it wouldn't do any good. You wouldn't listen, and experience will teach you more than I ever could. It's a harsh teacher, don't get me wrong.

But you learn.

So settle down with that plate of french fries and a can of diet coke. {Seriously, do it. Because your jeans won't allow many late night french fry snack runs when you're my age.} Flick your lamp on and don't forget the ceiling fan. Then, set aside the journal I know you're writing in, and let's get those future questions answered.

Like most other experiences, the first few months will seem beautiful. A whole new worldddd.... if you will. You're cute, you're fun, but most importantly, you're new. So don't be fooled when those older boys hit on you. It's probably not because of your kind heart or your quick wit or your fiery mind. Honestly, it's probably not because of your body either. It's because you're new.

You're going to take a brutally awful history class for the sole reason that it was blocked with AP English. I'm not going to tell you not to take it, because you didn't listen to anyone else and you're not going to listen to me. So when you're crying in the shower because nothing makes sense, remember that there are more important things than Reconstruction and Alexander Hamilton. A hit Broadway musical is going to come out in about five years to teach you all about him, anyway.

There will be teachers who will tell you that you're stupid. You're not, and by the time you're my age, they won't be teaching anymore, anyway.

There will be counselors who tell you that you should keep your options open when looking into colleges. But your gut feeling was right. Go where you want and never look back. You belong.

There aren't words to describe the power of breakfast at midnight. Fry the bacon, girlfriend. Just fry the bacon.

Definitely take Drama over Spanish III. It changed my life. I met some amazing people in that class and haven't had the urge or need to speak Spanish once.

PreCal is definitely a waste of time. I haven't used it once and you won't even need Calculus for your major in college.

Stop. Looking. For. The. Next. Man. To. Be. Your. Boyfriend. You're pretty cool on your own.

The number of times a guy cat-calls you in the hallway doesn't diminish your self worth or credibility at all. It diminishes his.

Quality over quantity. Please. Friendships, boyfriends, makeup... Quality over quantity.

Never, ever, underestimate the power of a late night phone call with your best friend / sister at heart. Just because you can always feel her there with you even when you don't talk for weeks doesn't mean you shouldn't fill her in on the totally stupid thing you did when you were hormonal. She deserves to laugh at your expense, just like you laugh at hers. And even though what you did was totally stupid, she'll somehow make it seem totally normal.

She'll also tell you how much of an idiot your crush is for several months and then console you when you realize it for yourself.

While we're on the subject... Boys are stupid.

Girls are mean.

Life would be so much easier if everyone else were just like you.

You can, and will, be best friends with a guy. Don't get me wrong, you'll fight with him more than you breathe. You will drive him up the wall sometimes and it will irritate you beyond understanding when he ends up being right about basically everything. But in exchange, he'll never make a move on you and he'll protect you like you're his little sister. You need him.

You've always wanted to cut your hair. So just do it, okay? It looks super cute on us, and the quicker you cut it the quicker you'll be frustrated that it doesn't go into a ponytail and you'll grow it out again.

Your mom was right all along. So stop trying so hard to prove her wrong.

Speaking of mom, she totally had a type. She loved the dark haired, dreamy eyed, musician guys, just like you. And once she stopped settling, she got to marry one of them! So don't settle.

Oh yeah, and when you're my age? There will be girls from your graduating class already married with kids. There will also be some who had huge dreams to get out of your hometown and never made it out of McDonald's. So relish in that happy middle-ground your dad was always talking about.

Dad. Hahahaaa. You and Dad aren't meant to get along right now. You're just starting to date, you cry for no reason, and you have to use tampons. He isn't fond of any of it. Just cut him some slack. You may never stop the eye-rolls, but you two become a lot closer later and you definitely share the same sense of humor. {I know, I never thought it would happen either.}

Unlike your parents, you will totally lose contact with every single one of your high school sweethearts. If they weren't God's plan for you, you shouldn't try to hold on. So when it's time to let them go, just let them go.

Now you're probably wanting to know what God's plan is for you in the love department. Good question. When I figure it out, you'll be the first to know.

Enjoy babysitting. I know you want a "real" job, but I've had several now and still babysit. It's my favorite job to this day.

You love kids. So be prepared... Some kids don't have good home lives. Some of them haven't even hit double digits in age and have already been through hell and back. You can't take them home with you, but you can love them as your own. You will have the power to be the parent they never had; their first hug in the morning and their last high five when they walk out the door. Just remember that the kids who need love the most will often ask for it in the most unloving of ways. Never lose sight of your primary job. Teaching and care-taking isn't it. Loving is.

Don't stop writing. People dig it.

One day, you're going to be a beauty distortion blogger. And you will have girls you knew from high school contacting you because they were dealing with an eating disorder. Because they were suicidal. Don't think you have to be a blogger before you help them see the truth. You aren't the only one struggling with inadequacy, so take the time to notice others who are.

You're not fat. I know you think you could lose some weight, but soon you'll be in college where you actually could lose some weight and you'll realize that you never needed to lose weight.

And if there's only one thing you're going to take from this letter... Let it be this:

There's really nothing "high-school" about high school. High school, like college and marriage and parenthood and retirement, is just a necessary chapter of life. If you don't cry too many tears, laugh too many hours, and work harder than you've ever worked before, then you're doing it wrong. Don't let people tell you that you're young and naïve because you're in high school. I've come to learn that youth and naïvity is so relative. My parents' friends still think I'm young, but the preschoolers I teach every day think I'm the oldest and wisest woman alive. You're not too young. You're not too naïve.

You are exactly where you need to be.

I wish I could tell you that you'll miss it when it's over. You'll miss parts of it, yes. You'll miss meeting new people in classes, but you have another four years of college to do that. You'll miss spinning around in a pretty dress on prom night, but you still have your wedding night to do that. You'll miss those guys you swore you once loved, and you have every right to, but you've got the rest of your life to love the man God has in store for you.

So take your time, high school Bethany. Enjoy it while it lasts. Because the bad parts will be over before you know it, and the good parts are only a small taste of what the rest of your life has in store for you.


The Real Me
{The Future You}


  1. I don't know you, but I enjoyed reading this. Thank you!

    1. Hi Keith!
      You don't have to know me. :) I enjoy writing so much and am thrilled you were able to find it relatable.
      But just to fill you in... My name is Bethany Harper! I'm a band director's daughter, a future teacher myself, and an average 21 year old struggling with beauty distortion in our twisted society. I sing Broadway, quote Disney, and eat way too many french fries. I originally started this blog as a way to share some of my writing with those who cared enough to read it, but have since developed a platform reaching out to other girls (and guys!) struggling with school, beauty, and life.
      Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you'll visit again!!

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