Here’s the thing. We’ve probably all read those inspirational articles about advice for you when you turn 30, regrets for when you’re in your 20s, and lessons you should have known as a teenager. But what about the most important age in this equation?
Halfway between being a toddler and an adult, on the brink of puberty, and basking in the awkwardness of being a pre-teen? Being ten years old was glorious in all of its weirdly new, awkward, pre-pubescent moments.
So here are six things I would tell my 10 year old self, if I had the chance to get into a time machine and give her a talking-to.
1. Girl, you should not be hoarding those bags of chocolate chips in your room. They only spell out trouble.
Those semi sweet chocolate chips were a massive obsession for you, for a long while. They were the perfect note to the Young Adult novels you were devouring, while your guinea pig ran around in your bed. You’d have to smuggle them into the house, having purchased them with your limited funds, and hide them in your closet. The problem was that you’d have little poo pellets and chocolate chips in your bed, and I don’t know – I’m afraid you might have mixed up a guinea pig poo for a stray chocolate chip once in a while.
2. You’ll head a burgeoning, award-winning media outlet soon enough, even if you fail this first time.
I know, I know, you tried really hard for six months at that mosque in Sharon, waiting around aimlessly for your parents to finish their commitments for the day. There were dozens of kids around, and you started pulling together submissions for a magazine, complete with cheesy comics, short “articles” and giveaways. Of course, it all went to hell because your 8-13 year old contributors simply didn’t take their commitments seriously enough (and half the time, they didn’t show up on days you had meetings!). You’ll try again in a few years, and next time, it’ll stick.
3. You’re still allowed to be a kid, even if 9/11 made you feel like you couldn’t afford to be one anymore.
It’s a day that changed your tenth year of existence forever, and the years to follow in ways you couldn’t possibly understand at this point in time. What’s important, though, is to hold tight to the fact that the things you noticed in the days after the towers went down – how a child like you was missing when President Bush comforted American children the next day on national TV, how strangers took the time to leave nice gifts on your family’s door, how your mother chose to stand tall in the face of terror – were all things that would manifest, again and again, in different forms in the years to come. And that one day, you’d fight to make sure that nobody would ever feel as alone and afraid as you once did.
4. It’s okay to have a bunch of crushes, but do a better job of hiding your diary from your siblings.
Feelings. They suck. But suddenly you woke up feeling them for the opposite sex, and with that came the burden to unleash it on someone, anyone – even if it’s your slightly torn up, aged Lisa Frank diary. You learned quickly to only note your crushes (as ever changing, and ever growing that list might be) by their consonants in your diary, a dorky attempt to a) keep track of the multiple men in your life with the same name (even if you never talked to them) while b) confusing any of your siblings who had just begun reading and were prone to going through your things, looking for the latest bit of gossip amidst your pieces.
5. The moments you’re most creative is when you’re most stressed out. Like the time you were moving, and your six month old baby twin sisters screamed the whole way from the top of New York state, to western Massachusetts.
It’s weird. But stress, and the depths of procrastination, are the moments when you start pulling out scraps of paper and pens laying around, and putting down your ideas. So it’s only natural that on that 72 hour, high stress, high octane move from New York to Massachusetts that you would place a weirdly dystopic look at your family dynamics in a fantasy world. Trust me when I tell you that you’ll capitalize on this when you start writing again as an adult.
6. Being a complete weirdo will come in handy one day.
Seriously. Trust me when I tell you this. In fact, it’ll even land you friends. I promise.