Dear Teenagers I Passed on the Street Today

I don’t think you know how beautiful you are. I walked past you today and you were rumpled and gawky and beautiful like baby giraffes and I thought Oh to be that beautiful again but then I remembered how awful it was to be a teenager, how everything was too important and too raw and too much and I couldn’t get away from it and I only had the faintest of hopes that there was life beyond the teeming bowl of bacteria that was highschool but I clung to that hope, so much that my friends and I set our fantasy sights on college boys and student teachers because surely they would pull us by our scrawny arms out of the bowl and plant us in beautiful post-highschool-land, a place full of confidence and smiles and mutual desirability, though we would have described it all as “some place cool, you know, where the people are cooler” because we were afraid of vocabulary, afraid of our own expression, afraid and defiant, scribbling profanity on our desks, hiding our heads in our lockers, afraid and brave and afraid all day long, all year long, for years until suddenly, one day, both brave and afraid shrank to reasonable levels and we put on our tight pants regardless of size and got tattoos and piercings and sang on the bus and let ourselves be ourselves because no one was watching anyway and anyway who cares?

If it was enough to think positive thoughts at your snarling faces, if it would help, I would do it all day long. You are full of such terrible, awesome magic, you just have to learn how to use it. It’s in there, amidst all the flesh and bone and oily skin and raging temper; pushing and pulling at the ones you love, kicking the family dog when no one is looking, crying into your mother’s neck when she least expects it, yelling at your grandmother to leave you alone when that is your worst fear, really. And then; being sweet to strangers, standing up for the little guy in your class, giving that homeless guy your coffee, secretly dreaming about becoming an astronaut, believing wholeheartedly in your never-ending, soon-beginning future.

It’s all in you already. You just have to find it and let it out. You will be great.

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