A letter to myself, circa 1990, by Deb Katie

Dear Katie,

Oh, Katie, Katie, Katie.

There are a lot of things I could tell you but won’t, because as tempting as it would be to give you all the lottery numbers and sports scores, that would change a lot of things that I’d just as soon not change.

Instead, I’ll just tell you that, yes, this is definitely your awkward stage. And yes, you will grow out of it. The funny thing is that someday the things you’re being made fun of for are going to be the things that your life is about. It’s okay to be smart, when you’re grown up. In fact, it pays better than being dumb.

It’s also fine to be a prolific writer, no matter what the bastards in 8th grade history said to you that one day. Also, your 8th grade history teacher was a bastard for letting them say those things. (Never trust anyone who says the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery.)

Here’s the thing–someday you’ll be prettier and your hair won’t be so, you know, awkward, and you’ll be better at putting on makeup and getting dressed. But you’re never going to wake up in the morning feeling the way you think the popular kids feel. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that even the popular kids don’t feel the way you think they feel. Maybe they learned early on how to blow-dry their hair or perfectly poof their expensive shirts out of their expensive shorts, but that doesn’t guarantee happiness.

So what’s the purpose of all the angst and lonely nights spent listening to that one New Kids on the Block album, over and over again? Here’s a hint: someday you’re going to write about girls like you. And the girls that read about those girls are probably going to be like you, too. And letting them know they’re not alone is actually a pretty good legacy.

Now, put on those generic Keds and the too-bright lipstick and go work on your observation skills and compassion. Nobody is ever what they seem to be, and you, my dear, are no exception.

Katie Alender (that’s right, you’ll eventually find a boyfriend and get married–don’t worry, you’ll kind of know him when you see him)

PS – The pearl ring is on your top bookshelf, and the heartburn is from nitrates! Nitrates! Put the cheap lunchmeat away!

8 Replies to “A letter to myself, circa 1990, by Deb Katie”

  1. I love this. A letter to myself in the same year would have sounded much the same, actually. (Though, I still have awkward hair.)

    I also absolutely agree with this: “In fact, I’d go so far as to say that even the popular kids don’t feel the way you think they feel. ” In fact, I believe that I was probably happier than the popular kids because I wasn’t white-knuckled about keeping my tenuous position in the social strata (I’ll bet they all felt tenuous, because even the securely popular kids had a ranking within the popular crowd…) I had my collection of close friends who were also not very popular.

  2. Oh my goodness, where were you when I was going through all of this? I want to copy your letter and go paper the local junior high with it! And, wait, I’m having a brain seizure, your HISTORY TEACHER said the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery? Am I reading the sentence correctly? That’s just, I mean I don’t know what to, can’t think…

  3. Thanks, Kristina! Yeah, you know, I wonder if the reason those girls were so mean was that they were completely insecure… It seems obvious when you think about it that way, but my first reaction is always just that they’re MEAN, you know? Maybe I’m more like Alexis than I thought. 😉

    Tiffany, in the interest of full disclosure, his line was that the Civil War was MOSTLY about economics. He didn’t deny that slavery played any role–but man, did he ever downplay it.

  4. Uh, yeah, economics like the fact that the agrarian, Southern economy was based on SLAVERY! Brain still trying to process this…

  5. Tiffany, best just to let it go. Don’t forget, this was the man who let the whole class tease me to the point where I started crying and ran out of the room. Maybe sensitivity–cultural or otherwise–wasn’t his strong suit.

  6. Love the potty-mouth, Katie. Keep it up. I can feel the passion leaking through my laptop screen. Let’s bump the Deb’s rating from G to at least PG-13. 😀

  7. Oh how I loved (NOT!) the teachers who glommed onto the popular kids and were complete sh*ts to the not so lucky. I was mediocre, and therefor was completely ignored thank God, but even at the age of 13 or so I knew it was so wrong. And those popular ‘mean’ girls are still mean just on a bigger, nastier level (just ask their poor husbands) but take solace in the fact that their good days are already over! Who wants the peak of their life to be high school?

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