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Words For My 12-Year-Old Self

07/07/2012

I just came across this video, courtesy of Mashable. It’s a fascinating 20-year media experiment in which a man essentially interviews (and is interviewed by) his 12-year-old self. It’s touching, funny and a little bit painful in its surreal honesty.

Like many others who saw the video, it made me imagine what it would be like to interview my own 12-year-old self. The youthful Beth, in all her home schooled awkwardness; who dreamed of being a writer (or a gymnast), was afraid of vampires in her closet and had a desperate crush on some boy named Andrew.

Everything felt so significant back then. Christmas music came on in October, an eight-line poem about a boy’s eyes was worth more than Shakespeare, buying five CDs at the Dollar Store made me feel like I had discovered the Holy Grail of music.

Looking back at my youth, it’s amazing how many more things make sense now. But at the same time, there are things that have become more confusing than ever. Careers, romance, intellectualism, bills. The simple ignorance of my youth has paved way for a complicated enlightenment that comes with a lot of baggage.

If I had a chance to talk to 12-year-old Beth again, this is what I would tell her:

“I’m not going to lie and say it’ll be easy. It’ll get worse. Then better. Then worse again. But after all the pain of growing up, you’ll realize who you are … without shame.

“You’ll learn it’s okay to be a nerd — in fact, it’s pretty darn cool to be a geeky girl. Reading is amazing, jealousy is worthless and homeschooling will actually be the best thing to happen to you. Don’t worry, you won’t always be a social leper: You’re going to be in a band.

“You’ll have to repair your broken heart more times than you’d like (sorry, you won’t be married with three kids before 25 like M.A.S.H said you would), but the love you give and receive will be worth the cost of losing it.

“But most of all: You are exactly who you’re supposed to be. There will be times you feel out of place, miscast in your own film. However, you’ll realize the person you are is worth all the York Peppermint Patties in the world.

“Because you’re You. And no one else can claim that.”

My parents always said my life may not make sense until I was 30 — and after that, it would be the best time of my life. I think I’ve got a head start.

Little Beth would be proud.

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