Youth of Canada Mental Illness Awareness Week Entry #1: Seventh Grade and its Discoveries - a Letter
Updated: Apr 7, 2019
To myself in seventh grade,
I want to start off by telling you that you are going to make it through this. Whoever it may be, telling you to give up, telling you it’s not worth it, telling you that you’re a failure, even if it is yourself, I want to tell you one thing: this. This will be worth it. If you go on to skip the rest of what I’m about to tell you know, I want you to remember this one line: this will be worth it.
The current you is in grade 11, just failed her physics and chemistry test, and will have failed her math test by this morning. She will be very sleep deprived, very tired, and very, very caffeinated by this afternoon. She will have a mountain of position-time graphs to finish, she will be behind a week of math homework, and she will have to finish her English IOP reflection by midnight tonight. She will have no idea what to do with a performance tonight and this letter to finish, and she will have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow morning. She may have to sleep at 1 am tonight or finish her physics homework by lunch tomorrow. She is ready to break down and cry, she is ready to drop out of school and go get ice cream, and she is ready to go home and sleep.
But there is one issue: she knows she will not give up. She cannot read into the future, but she knows this for a fact: she will not give up.
Seventh grade you will have to sort through a lot of garbage. Seventh grade you is an acne filled, sleeping at 10 pm, making friend groups and separating them again, sitting by your bed, piece of potential. You probably think you only have one chance. You think: I have one chance to get this right, and you will go through the next three years with this mindset as well. I want to tell you one thing: you will fail, and you will fail hard.
You will know social failure and academic failure. You will know the failure of love and the failure of loyalty. You will know artistic failure, and you will know familial failure. You will know failure more than you know yourself, and failure can be one of two things: the best thing that has ever happened to you, or something you learn and grow from.
You will learn many things in two years of high school, some of which are good, some of which are awful. No matter how good the ratings of Ontario teachers look like on RateMyTeacher, a large percentage of your teachers will not care about you, or your wellbeing. (Mostly the latter.) They don’t schedule things correctly, they don’t give the right instructions, and they don’t give you their blessing. Some will be the tough-love kind, some will just be love-love – you are going to have to live with both of these kinds of people. You will make new friends, some of which will be love- hate, and some of which will be love-love. You will love all of them, and they will love you – despite how much you may annoy each other for homework answers and pieces of their pizza. You won’t hang out every weekend, but you will know you all love each other anyway.
This cohort that you are in is a relatively good one. Snip away the weeds and the toxicity, and you will be left with the daisies and the roses. You will find good people to be with. I have people I want to be with, and I assume these people want to be with me as well. They will be the reason you make it through this. They are the reason I am getting through this today.
You will learn how to comfort people, and you will learn how to comfort yourself. You will learn how people cry, and you will learn how to cry yourself. You will learn how to talk to your parents like real people, and you will learn how to ask your sister for favours. You will learn how to be selfish and how to be selfless. You will learn how to play French horn, and you will learn to sing again. You’ll fall in love with a K-pop star name J-Hope, and you will start wearing nice jeans again. You will talk about Great Comet all day long, and you will protest gun laws. You will belt Broadway songs in the hallways, and you will learn how to find limits of functions. You will learn that you don’t want to have sex like how other people do, and you will learn to go to church to be happy for once.
Sometimes you won’t sleep. Sometimes you won’t eat. And sometimes you’ll forget that hydration is a thing that humans need to do to be a. healthy, b. alive. These are not good things. Please get enough sleep, eat all your meals (even breakfast), and drink at least 1 litre of water at the minimum. You will have to learn to sacrifice things for yourself first. Don’t worry about math homework, worry about your sleep schedule. Don’t worry about your reflection, worry about eating properly.
Sometimes you won’t do well in a course, sometimes you won’t do well in an interview, sometimes you won’t do well at home by yourself watching Brooklyn 99 clips. Sometimes you will feel like dying, and that’s okay. But you cannot feel like this all the time.
You will know what love feels like and you will know what hate feels like. You will know what heartbreak feels like, and you will know what breaking someone’s heart feels like. You will know responsibility like it is your job. You will know know procrastination like a drug. You will hate yourself, and you will love your friends. Sometimes you will feel the opposite, and that’s also okay. You will need love, and you will give love. You will give kindness, and you will receive it as well.
I have gone through the past 11 years in school believing that there was no way I was going to make it through this. You likely believe now that you won’t make it through next month. But I want you to remember – I need you to remember, that your failures, your successes, your decisions and your actions will have molded you into the person I am today. And if you don’t like the person you are today, the person you are tomorrow is an entirely different person.
One day, you will have met the right people. You will have met the right teachers. You will have had the right days. You will have been given the best advice. You will make it through this.
I know you will.
Sincerely, Your Future, Grade 11 Self.
~ Written by Jenniffer Meng
A message from Youth of Canada: We are here to support Canadian youth and inspire them. For anyone struggling mentally, we hope the stories of our Mental Health Blog series, in honour of Mental Illness Awareness Week, will help you connect and realize that you are not alone. Thank you to the Canadian teenagers that were willing to share their stories with us.