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A Letter to My Teenage Self: Growing Up Blaxican and Depressed in White Suburbia


There are some days when you look over your shoulder, unsure of who may be following you. You walk through the halls, nervously, knowing that people you have never met are talking about you. You’re trying to get through each day, unnoticed, but it’s hard. It’s hard when you feel trapped inside your head — when your depression is almost invisible. When your anxiety interferes on a day-to-day basis and when others try to make you feel like you don’t belong. It’s hard when you feel alone. Sometimes it’s as if nobody understands.

You look in the mirror, and you try to see what your mother sees. You try to believe her when she says you are beautiful. But at times the insults from the people at your school are all that you remember.

When they make fun of your hair, you want to cut it off. You want to straighten the curls out. You want to look like everybody else.

When they say your nose is too big, you want to change it. You want a different nose. You want to be like everybody else.

When they taunt your skin color, you want to hide it. You want to erase it. You want to fit in with everybody else.

When they put you down, you want to stay down. You want to give in to what everybody else is saying or thinking, but you won’t.

You won’t.

You will get back up again. You will shine. You will thrive in ways that you have never imagined possible. You will become stronger and wiser. You will defy all of the odds against you. You will love your curly hair. You will love your nose. You will love your brown skin. You will love it all.

You will love yourself regardless of those who try to break you.

They will not succeed, but you will.

You will find a way to overcome the depression and anxiety. It won’t be easy and some days will be difficult, but you will know who you are. You will know that it doesn’t make you inferior. In fact, you are brave, courageous and bold. You aren’t like everybody else, and that’s OK. You are you, and that is more than enough.

You will pass on all that you have learned to the girls of the world, who are struggling with their identities. Yes, pass on the message that your mother told you. Tell them they are beautiful. One day they will believe you.

To see more from Denise, visit her website.

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