By Margarete Rodriguez
13- or 14-year-old Margarete at Build-A-Bear Workshop for her sister’s birthday and present day Margarete working at the Lehman Counseling Center. Photos courtesy of Margarete Rodriguez.
Dear young Margarete,
You will become the person you never thought you could be: confident, strong-willed, outgoing, magnificent, and fearless. You will actually be happy, to the point where you randomly smile to yourself in gratitude.
You will get tattoos even though you always swore to yourself that your body would be an empty canvas. You won’t believe this, but there will come a day when you can look yourself in the mirror and say, “you’re beautiful.” Fair warning---things will get ugly before this happens and you won’t really learn to say nice things about yourself, with full confidence, until after high school.
A seemingly nice boy with a mohawk will try to mold you into someone you’re not: quiet, reserved and apologetic, but you won’t let that happen. You truly have a mind of your own and only you know what you want out of your life. I would tell you to avoid him entirely, but he actually helped you learn a lot about yourself and the things you are willing to accept and REJECT from people and relationships. So, if you want to turn out to be the dope individual you read about in that first paragraph, you’re going to have to bite the bullet.
The good news is, your resilience is unparalleled and your heart, and mind, will guide you to all the right places. So, know when to walk away from things that aren’t meant for you, even when they tug at you to stay. There’s a power in doing just that. Your gut will tell you when it’s time; you only need the courage to follow it.
From time to time you will feel isolated and alone, partly because you put yourself there. Even I do that sometimes, but we know damned well that is far from the case. Feel whatever you have to feel, just don’t keep yourself in that bubble for too long. If you turn around you’ll see a sea of strong women, and a few reliable guys too. Don’t take them for granted. We both know how hard it is to make friends.
Keep your chin up, kiddo. You will be where you are meant to be.