A friend of mine and fellow writer asked me to mail her daughter a handwritten note to remind her that she is beautiful. Her birthday is next week, and she is having a hard time in middle school. For some reason, this letter felt very, very important, and I took it seriously. Here is what I wrote to her:
I am going to tell you something I’ve never told anyone.
When I was in high school (which was only 10 years ago, don’t worry), I was never ever asked to a dance by a boy. All my friends were getting invitations, but I wasn’t, and though I never said a word about it to anyone, it hurt me very much. I couldn’t understand it
Then, one day I was walking through the mall parking lot. I saw a group of boys I went to school with who I didn’t really know all that well, so I crossed behind some cars so they wouldn’t see me walking. I overheard them talking, though, and they were talking about me. One boy said, “I think I’m going to ask Liz Breen to formal.” Another boy said, “Don’t do that, man. She’s too smart.”
So that was my problem? I was too smart? That was just about the most idiotic thing I ever heard, and I couldn’t help but cry about it. I hoped that the boy wouldn’t listen to his friend and ask me to the dance anyways, but he didn’t. I pretended I was sick and stayed home.
Though I let that boy win in the sense that I didn’t go to formal that year, I never stopped living up to my potential; I never stopped being smart because someone told me it wasn’t cool. And right now, I’m writing you this note from my office, where I have my dream job as a television producer, and that boy, the one who said I was too smart, was just fired for stealing from the gas station where he worked. I’m not telling you this story to brag, but to tell you that your peers are morons. It’s true. And many of them will continue to be morons for the rest of their lives.
Confidence is beauty. Intelligence is beauty. Independence is beauty. Eccentricity is beauty. If you can remember that, in a few years, you’ll be in an environment where people know these things to be true, and you will feel every inch as beautiful as you know you are now.
Keep being yourself; know that not every 14-year-old knows what you know. All the best moments in your life are yet to happen.