Mental Health Rachel Warner Social Health

You Don’t Need to Fit In: An Open Letter to My Teenage Self

By Rachel Warner

Take up all the space. Yes, I am talking to you, that sweet insecure and anxiety ridden 13 year old, who wants to change the world. Society teaches girls and women to shrink, make themselves smaller, not to question or offend those around you. Do not listen to them! You are not too much, they just can’t handle you, there is a difference. Being an outspoken, opinionated, strong girl is difficult, but so important. You won’t often be described in a positive light, those are the adjectives typically reserved for men making power moves. Girls like you are branded difficult, attention seeking, stubborn, or conniving. That is just the list of “nice” descriptors, there are much much worse. Sure it would be easy to go along and get along, but where would that get you?

“You are not too much, they just can’t handle you”

Growing up as a spirited and strong willed girl is not easy. You are not unlovable, you don’t need to change. You can be seen and be heard! You do not have to grow out of your tendency to fight for justice. That admirable quality will lead you to do great things. You will be the one your friends call when a wrong needs to be made right. You will work to revolutionize your profession, and fight for women to get the care they need. You will be the one that cheers your friends and even strangers on. You will set and achieve so many amazing goals. You may not see it now, but you are paving a path and clearing the resistance for those yet to come. You are making an impact and you are so valuable. 

“You may not see it now, but you are paving a path and clearing the resistance for those yet to come.”

Don’t stop asking questions, they aren’t disrespectful. The world needs you, not everyone has your gumption. When you ask questions, those who couldn’t, get the answers they seek. One day they will see you are loud so others may be heard. You are an example, remember why you do it. Don’t forget to step aside and let others shine, their light does not extinguish yours; you’re brighter together. 

I’d love to tell you it gets easier, one day you’ll reach an age or position where you are just afforded the space and respect you deserve. I won’t lie to you. Maybe that day will come, but it hasn’t happened yet. But all these challenges are preparing you for the great things to come. Recently, there has been a collection of women and girls speaking up, and society has made it clear that is just not okay. Taylor is just playing the victim, Lizzo is offensive, Greta needs anger management, for example. These are your people, and we still have a ways to go!

Never stop being difficult, but always remember to be kind. You have been criticized and left out. You know how it feels when all of your strongest qualities are seen as flaws. This is not a competition, and the world is not out to get you. You don’t fit in, and you will soon realize that is a good thing. Keep taking up space and making power moves.