Dear 13-year old Terina on International Women’s Day,
You don’t like odd numbers. You’re a little superstitious like that sometimes. It’s because you don’t yet fully understand your power. So this was not a good year for us. 12 was awesome. You got your first bra last year. But this year was disastrous. You got taller and lankier. You got made fun of. You discovered societal expectations of you. And boys. And all of the girls who are prettier than you. You have low self-esteem. You’re embarrassed walking home in your Catholic school uniform. You secretly hem the skirt to sit much higher on your legs. That’s nso not you, but it’s like you’re living in a pressure cooker.
And you’re not alone.
A short time ago, a girl in your grade committed suicide. You didn’t have any classes with her but you saw her in the halls. Her name was Natalie. From what the other kids say, she was teased too. She was called ugly. Just like you. And you just wish that you’d had time to tell her, “Hey, I feel the same.”
It’s not all bad. You write poetry and it gets published. You continue to get A’s in all of your classes. You dance after school almost every day: Graham technique. You won’t know this for a few years but Martha Graham is the BOMB.
I know it’s hard now to recognize this but you’re starting to become interesting and unique and your mind is growing in unbelievable ways.
Still, there are struggles. This year you spoke up to defend a friend and were attacked by eleven girls you didm’t even know; they pulled a few handfuls of hair out of your head. You continued on. Your first boyfriend breaks up with you. You continued on. People talk about you. You continued on.
And all this time, ever since you were 5, there was something in the back of your head telling you of greatness. Every year that passes, it gets a little louder. Every struggle makes it a little quieter. But in those moments of struggle, you remember Natalie and all of the other girls who might feel the same and you continue on.
You wouldn’t believe me if I told you this but, one day, people will listen to you. Your opinion will be valued. You’ll take risks and succeed. You’ll travel the world. People will be jealous of you. They will be intimidated by you. And none of these things will come to you through bluster. It’s your power. And your power, although recognized, will never truly be conceivable because it is so immense.
Finally, I know this whole time traveling letter thing is super weird and so hard to believe but I mean really….you always knew it was possible. Don’t try to change a single thing! We both know that would be cataclysmic for the space-time continuum. Oh and I forgot mention that you’re going to be at the forefront of one of the most unique scientific fields of your time. I would tell you more but, you know…the space-time continuum. Take care lady!
27-year old Terina
Terina-Jasmine Alladin joined the staff of Science Club for Girls as the Cambridge & Newton Program Manager in the summer of 2015.