Dear 14-Year-Old Me
The intuitive, emotional side of yourself guides your experiences and shapes how you learn. You grasp information viscerally, which can make traditional schooling a little bit harder for you.
“A Letter to My Younger Self” is a series of deeply personal letters written by world-changing women to their younger selves at an age when they could have used a bit of advice. Join GOOD + GAP in celebrating the power of perspective and the universal moments of struggle, healing and triumph that inspire the best in all of us. #WomenInspire
Illustrations by Taleen Keldjian
Dear 14-Year-Old Me,
I know you won’t believe me when I tell you this, but you really are beautiful. Youth can be awkward. Kids can be cruel. When your crush calls you “blurple,” don’t fall apart over this silly, made up word. Don’t allow it to spark resentment for your beautiful, dark skin. Your complexion, your scrawny legs, and your untamable hair will soon become the defining, and even covetable, marks of your identity. When you learn to embrace every part of yourself, you will experience an incredible sense of freedom.
More importantly, though, you are smart. I know school is brutal right now. It’s hard to feel smart when you are suffering through 8th grade math, unengaged and unable to focus, hiding your report card beneath your bed. It might seem like a good idea now, but don’t keep this a secret. Share your struggle with your mom—she has fought her own battle with dyslexia, and she will understand far more than you think. Even though your challenges are different, if you open up to her, Mom will become your greatest champion.
School is a trial for you, not because you aren’t smart, but because you learn differently. It’s hard to sit by, frustrated and fighting for every C, while your classmates so easily absorb and apply their lessons. I know it seems unfair, but all it really means is that you are unique. The intuitive, emotional side of yourself guides your experiences and shapes how you learn. You grasp information viscerally, which can make traditional schooling a little bit harder for you. But do not be discouraged! In just a few short years, you’ll finally become the rock star you’ve always been. In college, you’ll become passionate about film and journalism—subjects that allow you to be creative and use your incredibly special voice. You’ll finally get that 3.0, and you will be so proud.
When things get tough, remember that your daily struggles are helping you build an arsenal of knowledge that will change the lives of many people who feel the way you do right now. The defeat you feel today will inspire you to work in education, where you will equip teachers to find, nurture, and respect every students’ distinct needs and learning style. Don’t think for a second that you aren’t smart enough. You are perfect exactly as you are, and you will inspire the world to see education in a beautiful new way.
P.S. By the way, that boy? He likes you, too. He told me so.
Tiffany Persons is the Founder of Shine On Sierra Leone, an innovative non-profit that has catalyzed groundbreaking growth in education, healthcare, microloans, adult and computer literacy and sustainable building. SOSL is currently launching the building of a new Secondary School that will be the home of their forthcoming Holistic Education Curriculum - a revolutionary form of education that fosters an empowered relationship with one's self, serving as a conduit for young people to become powerful, conscious, self-actualized stewards of service and transformation for their country and the world at large. Tiffany is honored by the UN as a “Woman of the World”.