Being a girl was about aching for something that was always just out of reach. I existed in a state of longing for something indefinable, of permanent languid dissatisfaction. I was always stretching out, grabbing, then discarding what I had touched. I wanted the next best thing, not the thing I had.
Girlhood was about never being happy in my skin. My body was all wrong. I longed for longer legs, better skin, a smaller bum. I longed for slow, rapturous kisses that would make me forget myself. I longed to melt.
Girlhood was about waiting for the right boy to come along. I ached for a soul-mate and found him in all the wrong places. When boys did turn up, I longed for someone cooler, older, more mature. I longed for a man.
Girlhood was about never finding the right food to eat. I longed for ice-cream, then tuna, then bread and butter, then chocolate, then roast chicken, then milk with Milo. Food came and went, but never in satisfying combinations.
Girlhood was about always dreaming about being somewhere else. If I was at school, I longed to be at home. At home, I ached for my friends. With my friends, I wanted to be with a certain boy. With that boy, I wished I were at home with a book. While reading, I thought of my father.
It was a time of extremes, of being too hot, too cold, too lazy, too over-excited, too silly, too irritable, too focused, too pent-up.
I thought a lot about clothes, but they were always wrong. Whatever I wore was never as good as what that girl wore. I flipped through magazines, ached for Farah hair, Christy legs, Jodie eyes. The clothes I finally bought were dissatisfying: too tight, too loose, too short, too long, too preppy, too Gothic, too old, too new. I longed for one perfect dress.
I felt as if I couldn’t talk very well. I never seemed to say what I meant, hard though I tried. Words blocked in my throat so I stayed silent. There was so much to say. I longed to say it well. I felt as if I couldn’t. I inhibited myself.
When I was a girl, I wanted to please. So badly. I wanted to please so badly that I did things I regretted. I put others before myself, their needs before mine. I pushed my own needs down until I exploded.
To girls, I say:
Find your voice and be proud to use it.
Put your needs first.
Please yourself, not boys.
Love your body.
Live in the moment.
Find and do the thing that makes you forget yourself, that makes your heart sing.
Never stop looking for one perfect dress.