I’m a happy kid. I have my occasional bad day or iffy moods, but that’s just part of being a person. I love to sing, act, dance around my room, read, play piano, do crazy things with my little brother, and pretty much just be a 13 year old girl who enjoys life. But something happens to everyone in life that is gradual, and we can feel the heavy effects of it. We grow up.
Currently, I’m in the process of becoming myself (AKA growing up), and let me tell you, in addition to the many cool things about it, it is not easy. Things fly through my head, my emotions skyrocket, my body changes, friendships come and go, I think about things, etc. Let’s not underestimate the importance of that last item. I’ve been doing so much thinking about things lately that it got so overwhelming and brought on that panic attack. I’ll tell you about it now.
I was in my room trying to fall asleep. I was thinking about growing up. Becoming a woman. Being an adult. Having really important things to do. I was also thinking about mistakes. Mistakes really scare me.
Things that are marketed towards teenage girls these days, among many other ridiculous things, seem to emphasize that we can make some pretty life-shattering mistakes. Books, movies, and TV shows tend to reinforce this at a time when girls are particularly vulnerable.
So as I cried and described to my dad why I was so afraid, I couldn’t point to anything specific. I was simply afraid of screwing up some time in the future. That’s what made it so scary—during that panic attack I had never felt so insignificant.
Fast forward to about a week later, when my dear cousin sent me a copy of Please Read. The second I opened the book and read the introduction by Kate Engelbrecht, I knew this book was awesome. One particular section of the book jumped out at me, and that was the compilation of girls’ answers to the question, “What are you afraid of?” It was reassuring to read that many girls were afraid of screwing up and making mistakes, just like me. Although I’m sometimes scared of the future, it’s usually something that excites me. The future is full of possibilities and it changes every day. This is something that is expressed in the book, too.
I also loved the honesty in the voices of each girl that contributed. Teenage girls have a depth to them that cannot be expressed easily. Yet this book does it with flying colors. Us teenage girls get upset; we learn, we act out, we regret things, we are proud, we achieve, we learn to love ourselves, but most of all, we’re all different. Each of us has a unique self that is hers, and no one else’s. The truth is, we’re deeply layered, and that is something not many people take the time to learn.
And so, as I read Please Read and relished the words of girls I could relate to so easily, and looked at all the photography that captured girls’ lives in such a beautiful way, I remembered that life is exquisite. And that no matter how many mistakes you make, or how much you change, there will always be someone who loves you, and someone who knows how you feel. Please Read reminded me, in a world where not much does, that I am never alone.
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