Dear 8th grade Tracy,
I might as well get this out of the way because I know it’s the thing you’re desperate to hear—you get pretty. I know it seems absolutely impossible now, with the red hair you haven’t yet realized is curly, braces on your teeth, huge glasses all over your face, and, firmly securing your current unsightliness, an awkward, cumbersome, scoliosis back brace. I’m not gonna lie, you don’t look too hot this year. People avert their eyes sometimes. The nicknames aren’t kind. Boys don’t like you. Girls don't like you. I know. But somehow, miraculously, you get pretty.
But guess what else? That’s so much more important? Thanks to the state of things now, you also get funny. And interesting. And brave. You have to be, if you’re going to have even the slightest shot of surviving socially. With everything that’s working against you right now, you’ve got to force some things to work for you. And you’ll manage to do it, sort of. Enough to get by. And these things that are crutches for you now will be trademarks for you later, and you will love them. Not everybody else will, mind you—your constant personality overcompensation will annoy and irritate and frustrate a fair share of friends and strangers and lovers. But no matter. Little 8th grade you have handled much worse. You took the brunt of it for us, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for what you’re dealing with now for our sake. I promise, promise, promise, it will be worth it. It will make you cool.
Now I wish I could tell you that the cursed back brace worked. It didn’t. Your crooked twisted back will never stop hurting you, and will present you with challenge after challenge and surgery after surgery. It’s crappy now and crappy always. Yippee. But, there is a bright side. That crooked twisted back and all the extensive care it will require will give you the gift of learning just exactly how much your family and friends love you. And it’s a lot. You will be mind blown and heart broken—in the good way—by the kindness and compassion and long-suffering of the people in your life. You will be spoiled rotten just because your body isn’t quite right. You will get to see the very best in people. You will be so, so loved. Lucky you.
Oh little ugly Tracy, hang in there. I know it’s tough and you feel like you’re not ________ enough, but you are. You’ll make it. I’m so proud of how you’re scraping by right now. You will be proud of the person it helps you to become. That person is rooting so hard for you. Good luck.
27 year old Tracy