Dear teenage girl who works at Quiznos,
Yesterday, my boyfriend and I came into the store you work at to get subs for lunch. You were making a sub for a cute teenage boy when we got in. As we waited our turn, I listened to you talk to him. It seems like you two knew each other, but not very well. Like maybe you go to the same high school, but aren’t exactly friends. I wasn’t really paying that much attention, since I was agonizing over whether to get the chicken carbonara or three cheese beef sub — a tough choice. But then I heard you say to the boy “I can’t believe everyone comes in here when I look like crap.” And that caught my attention. I believe the boy actually asked you to repeat yourself. Not sure whether that was because he actually didn’t hear you, or because he was confused. And you said it again. Then the boy said something like “well, you know, you’re at work.”
I wanted to tell you that I thought you looked beautiful. Because you did. I admired the way you carried your height, your long straight brown hair, pulled back into a ponytail. Your pretty eyes and your nice smile. And I wanted to tell you not to say things like that about yourself. Because you are beautiful, even if you don’t feel like you’re at your very best at any particular moment.
I’m guessing you’re about 17. As women, we are either born with, or conditioned into (I suspect a combination of both) this attitude that we have to be hyper critical of ourselves. You’ve probably been hearing an inner critic in your head for years. Sometimes, we start to say the things our inner critic says out loud. Cause you know, we feel like we have to justify not looking our best. Embarrassed perhaps that we didn’t put in the effort to add a little makeup. Especially when that cute boy shows up at work.
The thing is, when that inner critic is talking to us about how bad we look, it’s pretty much always wrong. I’m not saying we always look our absolute kick ass best, but really, we never look as bad as that voice tells us we do. And the really tricky thing is this — when we say what we hear that voice saying out loud to other people — they will often tend to agree with us. Or maybe they don’t agree really, but they also don’t disagree. And that just reinforces the totally incorrect notion that our inner critic is right. We just looked for validation that we look like crap and we got it, because the person we talked to didn’t say “hey, I think you look great.” The truth is, people don’t know what to say when someone says “I look like crap today.” Most people don’t have the presence of mind to come up with a kind remark. Teenage boys, especially, are particularly clueless here. Most people will either commiserate, or mumble something that sounds like vague agreement.
I would really love it if you stopped doing this to yourself. Trust me, it’s going to be way easier to stop at 17 than it is at 27, or 37 or 47. The longer you let that voice tell you it’s right, the harder it is to make it shut up. So tell it now, while you’re young, so you can spend the rest of your life marveling over how wonderful you truly are.
You are beautiful — trust me.
Love & hugs,
PS – I went for the chicken carbonara. The subs were fantastic. Thank you!