I've had a few opportunities, recently, to sit amongst high school students and share a bit about who I am and what I do. One experience was in a high-school class, the other at a youth group. Both occasions were surreal experiences. It's funny how some details of the past fade away, while others will forever stand out. I forgot how walking through the halls of high school feels like walking through a sea of people. I forgot about the music that plays over the intercom, summoning you to class. Then there's the morning announcements and the feeling of standing up to sing (or not sing) O'Canada. I forgot about the giddiness of girls that occurs before the start of youth group and the excitement of hanging out with friends you hadn't seen all week (or since Sunday).
I really didn't like high school. Perhaps, it is more accurate for to say that I didn't really like myself during high school, which made the whole experience that much more unpleasant. Being amongst the halls of high school was definitely not "the best times of my life". It wasn't all bad or negative though. I did meet some great people, both in and outside of the high school I attended, and loved the opportunities that presented themselves from playing sports.
I wish I knew then what I know now. I'm sure in 20 years, I'll be saying the exact same thing. I wish I had given myself permission to clearly ask for what I needed, as well as given myself permission to receive it. I wish I allowed myself to believe and recognize my worth that was there all along, even though I didn't see it. I wish I learned earlier on that people can't read my mind and automatically know what i need to hear from you.
It's not too late to change the message or belief you have about yourself... it does mean, however, taking time to go to those dark places and allowing yourself to recognize what you need. To try and believe something within or about yourself, even though there's a voice inside telling yourself otherwise.
What is it, right now, you need to hear or believe about yourself or your situation? Do you need to believe that recovery is possible and that you can do it? Do you need to hear that you are seen, loved and appreciated regardless of grades, appearance, mistakes, productiveness, weight, etc? Do you need to believe you are valuable, forgivable, and worthy of second/third/fourth chances? Do you need to hear that people haven't given up on you yet? Challenge those core beliefs about yourself that keep you from moving forward or hinder you from self-acceptance.
Stop and take a moment to write a letter to yourself, being the voice that you wish you could hear or believe*. Get in touch with your emotions, giving yourself permission to go to those places of vulnerability. You don't have to wait to hear what you need to hear from someone else... you can start with yourself...
*Doing this exercise might stir up a variety of emotions. Allow yourself to process it with a therapist, friend, colleague or teacher.