Dear Elyssa, aged 17 (15 Mar 2014)
You don’t realize it now, but you just tweeted something that is going to impact the next three years of your life.
I know how much you are hurting right now; I remember this night vividly. This tweet was born in our old bedroom from frustration and anger and sadness. It was born from clenched fists and hot tears and gritted teeth.
It was born from four long months of being ignored, yelled at, shoved away, and belittled in a basketball season that was rough before it even started. A season that also stirred up emotions in areas of your life that were completely unrelated to basketball. A season that tested friendships. A season that tested you.
I remember. You’ll never forget. As much as this season pains you to think about, I promise you will be thankful for it soon.
Elyssa, you are not weak. Those sideways glances and sympathetic smiles from people after games turn into beaming grins and congratulatory hugs again. The form you worked so hard to fix during the summer before this season (only to find out you could no longer shoot anywhere beyond the free-throw line) finally finds its rhythm, and you nail those three-pointers. Instead of going in at the end of games when we were up by 15, you go in at the end of games when we need to be smart with the ball. You don’t let teammates cause drama anymore. You are so strong. You prove them wrong.
Elyssa, you are not a letdown. Your senior year is going to be the best year you’ve ever lived up to that point (because college is pretty great, not gonna lie, but you’ll get to that eventually). Your friends are proud of you. Your teammates are proud of you. Mom and Dad are so proud to be your parents. Johnny is proud to be your brother. Your coaches are so proud of how much you’ve grown and the leader you’ve become. Heck, some people even introduce you to friends by saying, “She played on the team that won the State Championship!”
(“the moment” aka one of my favorite photos ever)
While you, today, right now, are only thinking of how to improve your confidence in basketball, this determined “prove them wrong” mentality you now have has affected your confidence everywhere, from how you walk, to how you talk, to how you interact with others. The assumptions people put on you don’t stand a chance. You prove them wrong. I am so proud of you.
Elyssa, you are not unwanted. Trust me on this one. Not to be narcissistic or anything, but you are so loved by so many people. I know that nothing I say will change your mind right now. This healing will come in time. You prove yourself wrong on this one.
As for what you are probably dying to know most: yes, you and Emily are still friends. You guys work it out, I promise. Emily can attest.
Elyssa. Girl. The next three years are going to be crazy. You’ll graduate high school next year, meet your “Cristina Yang” in college, chop all your hair off, get a tattoo… man. I’m so excited for you to experience all of that.
Please be kind to yourself. I know you’re moving in the right direction, but you’ve still got a long way to go. It only goes up from here.
Prove ’em wrong, babe.
All the love,
Elyssa, aged 20 (15 Mar 2017)