I ate lunch in the bathroom my entire eighth grade year. It was a gross place - flushing toilets, germs flying through the air coating every surface, students wondering about the weirdo standing in the stall next to them for so long - but it was a safe place. It was far away from the stares and loneliness of the lunchroom.
I wasn't bullied. I wasn't especially unpopular either. I was just ... a "nobody."
It's been over 10 years since those lonely lunch days. I'm hardly recognizable from that time in my life. If I could go back and tell myself what life would hold, this is what I would want the girl eating lunch in the bathroom to know:
It's going to get better
It really will! And it actually won't take that long. Hard times seem to last forever, but when you look back you'll realize they pass surprisingly quickly.
You are so worth loving
You're in the process of learning to love yourself. There is so much good about you! No matter how awkward your braces are, how you can't ever manage to say the right thing to that cute guy, or how hard math is for you, there is so much about you to love.
You're learning to be a friend who will save a life
You know what lonely feels like, and you understand that craving to be invited. Someday you'll learn that youhave to do the inviting. And along the way, your compassion for the lonely will save others who have felt like you.
You'll make friends
People seem like the worst right now, but soon you'll realize they are just lonely too. You'll make friends who will teach you how to live life better and will be there for you when you really need it.
Someone will love you for being you
There's no need to try to look as pretty as Katie, learn to flirt as well Becky or sing as well as Veronica. When you find someone worth loving, they will love you for being yourself.
You'll find things worth fighting for
Life will eventually be about more than boys, school and looks. You'll start listening to the news and realize there is a whole world to explore. You'll develop a relationship with God and fight for what is good. Passion will find you, and it will make life exciting.
Math is overrated
That C in Trigonometry doesn't mean you're stupid. Keep fighting. You're smarter than you know.
The more you love them, the more you will love yourself. Start looking for the great things about them.
There is always something to be grateful for
At the start of ninth grade, I determined life would get better. Every day I wrote one thing I was grateful for in a journal. Soon, I was writing a page each night. Gratitude changes your life. I crawled out of my hole of self-loathing and insecurity and focused on what was good in the world.
What you are learning now will save you later on
Unfortunately, you've got a lot harder things coming your way. But the great news is, what you're learning now in these lonely bathroom stalls will help you get through those times. You'll make it through, because you always have before.
Twelve years after my bathroom lunch days, I discovered there was a girl eating lunch in the bathroom at the same school. Now we are friends. We didn't know each other then - but we could have. Everyone gets lonely.
Someday your braces will be taken off
Things that are hard right now won't exist in a couple years. You'll get prettier - not just because you're growing up, but because you've learned to see the good things about yourself.
Amberlee is the content manager for FamilyShare.com and earned a degree in journalism. She creates beautiful things with her experience in writing, graphic design, photography, video and music. She loves her family, the outdoors, baby foxes and podcasts.