Okay. I know you are probably freaking out about something. You kind of do that. That’s okay. It’s who you are. Deep breaths.
And I know you are probably now jumping up and down because a letter from future you is so Doctor Who-esque (Yeah, that’s not a word) that you may have just passed out from the awesomeness of it.
And I am super sorry because this letter is not going to:
Save the world
Save the universe
Save Bono the lead singer of U2 – I know you love him now because he hugged you when you were ten, but he gets a wee bit strange or at least the media perception of him does.
So, anyways, this letter is not going to save anyone. It isn’t going to even save
you because the truth of this is, Carrie Elizabeth? The truth of this is that you don’t need saving.
You are going to think you are. When Chris keeps mocking how you say your s-words and chases you at every recess? When he tells you that you sound like a Muppet? It’s going to hurt. You won’t talk again for awhile. Lynette Quick and this girl named Sharon… the one with the lacey collar and perfect black hair… they will tell the teacher. The teacher will sit you and Chris on her pregnant knees. Her baby will kick at you and you will cry as she explains what bullying is in front of the whole entire class using you as the example.
Good news: Chris becomes a social worker and amazing break dancer and a good person who doesn’t make fun of other people.
Good news: You will become an author and people will read your weird books that reviewers will call quirky. They will read them all around the world and nobody will know how your s’s sound because that is the awesome things about books.
You won’t need saving, but you will.
When you get stalked by the guy from Alabama that you met at a rally. When you don’t like him back and he calls you words that I won’t even repeat here. When he says you’d be a good breeder despite your small hips and your s-sounds. When he says women are only meant to be subservient to men? When he travels thousands of miles because he’s figured out where your room is at college? When he threatens you? When you actually hide under your bed and try not to breathe because he is in your apartment and you are terrified? You aren’t going to need saving then, but you will feel like it.
When another author says you shouldn’t do the National Public Radio interview about bullying because other people won’t take your voice seriously? You won’t need saving then, but you’ll feel like it.
When someone you live with tells you that you are worthless, that you do everything wrong, that you are pathetic? You won’t need saving then either, but you’ll feel like it.
When the lawyer in the club you are in, taunts your writing, taunts your nonfiction writing and calls it schmaltz, when he implies you are only good for menial tasks, when you don’t want to go to the meeting because you don’t want to deal with his hate even as he tells everyone, “Carrie says to be kind.”
You won’t need saving.
Because you know who does?
When you were a little kid you used to sit in class, bored, and you would write in the margins of your notebook HELP. You’d write it in big capital letters over and over again. I’m not sure who you were asking, but I feel like writing it all over the margins of my life sometimes: HELP. HELP. HELP.
Help me not screw this up this speech I have to give.
Help my skirt to fall off in Bed, Bath and Beyond (this happens far too often).
Help me not mess up the plot in this book.
Help me not to slur my s’s.
Help me to be a good person.
Help me to not feel like there is a deep, black whirlpool inside my pleural cavity sucking me down.
Help me to juggle writing and being a mom and owner of way too many pets.
Help me to make my community a better place.
Help me to feel big instead of small.
Help me to not be scared.
Help me to save the bullies, the jerks, the people so full of hate that they say that love is schmaltz, that compassion is cheesy, people that think that it’s better to make fun of someone’s s’s than to hear their words.
I don’t know what to tell you about bullies. I know that bullying back doesn’t work for you. I know that writing down how you feel does. I know that making friends who support you does. I know that in second grade you were really good at sharing snacks, which made people think you were nice, which meant they protected you against the bullies.
Oh! You were so manipulative. Go you!
There is no easy answer, but someday you will realize sometimes that other people don’t get to define you, that trolls don’t only exist in fairy tales or on the internet, that they are in real life, too. And they don’t like shiny. And they don’t like happy. And they don’t like nice.
Be shiny and happy and nice anyways.
Sometimes that will be enough to save them. But that’s not your responsibility. All you have to do? All you have to do to survive is remember that they are trolls and you are you and that’s okay. It really is. I promise.
I pledge to take a stand against bullying each and every day. #One Voice