In honor of International Women's Day, YouTube created a global initiative to inspire and empower young women as they struggle with self-doubt and pressures. You can read more about the campaign in my articles for NBC and msnbc, but the idea is simple: What would you tell your younger self if you had the opportunity?
Here's what I would say...
But, most important, I want to talk to you about something that I know is on your mind.
You're probably at that age where you don't look like you. Your eyebrows are gone, your hair is falling out, and the doctors are saying that it's "just a part of growing up." And your parents, though they have the best intentions, just end up making you feel worse. You'll be angry and lonely, and you probably don't want to hear this, but trust me (and I wouldn't lie!): this isn't the end for you.
It isn't the end when people talk about you, rather than to you; when that teacher humiliates you in the hallway because you won't take the headscarf off of your balding head; when the "makeup moms" backstage before school musicals whisper about your brittle eyelashes and monolid eyes.
It's painful, I know, and you'll want to hide away. But don't be angry at the world. The world isn't against you. In the future, you'll meet amazing people who will call you out for hiding beneath wigs and hats and tell you you're beautiful. You'll be encouraged. You'll find communities of strength.
There will be setbacks, sure...you'll fail tests. You'll fight with friends. You'll get your heart broken--a lot.
Don't let those moments harden you. Don't close up and close off from the world. There is so much to experience in life, and I know I've lost out by being afraid in the past.
So when the setbacks come--and they will come--don't give up. Even to this day, there are moments that are difficult...but it'll be OK. You've got a lot of living ahead of you, and the world is ready for more of you--no matter how you look.