Thursday, November 4, 2010
Sweet 16...a letter to my younger self
Today quite a few of my friends tweeted things to their 16 year old self using the hashtag "#tweetyour16yroldself," and I found this to be incredibly interesting and also pretty thought provoking. Hindsight always seems to be 20/20, and the older I get the more "if I knew then what I know now" seems to apply to everything I've been through.
I was quite the wild-child in high school, so any advice I'd extend to my 16-year old self would have to include something along the lines of "you are not invincible," and "slow down, you're still a baby!" I love all of the experiences I've had in my life, but in my later teen years I do feel like I made some "interesting" decisions...luckily they never affected me in a negative way, and for this I consider myself lucky. I occasionally used to look back with regret, thinking about this or that, but when it comes down to it, every single thing I went through or experienced absolutely made me into the person I am today, as overdone as that line is. But I really believe it.
So, to my 16-year old self, I say this:
You are a wonderful, beautiful person just the way you are. You don't need to feel like you have to prove yourself to anyone, you don't need to feel like you have to live up to anyone's expectations. Like any teenager, you will spend the next few years trying to figure out who you are, and I promise you, at 16 you are not that person yet. Be kind to your parents, they are only trying to protect you and worry about you because they love you. Your Mom will be your best friend in the upcoming years, as hard as that is to picture when you're a temperamental teenager. Remember that you are the company you keep, and although you never get mixed up in the wrong crowd, you will dabble here and there unnecessarily. Stick to the friends you've had forever. The boyfriend you will have at 16 isn't love, so think about that before you convince yourself he's perfect for you. Remember that no one else can define your worth but yourself. You were right to trust your instinct those times that seem so important (they were), so keep doing that. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Time will go by so quickly and these years will be a distant memory before you know it. Cherish the time you spend with your father, as he teaches you to drive stick shift in the blue Passat, up and down McDowell Road. Later on you'll think back fondly on those seemingly stressful lessons. And speaking of the Passat, remember to take the emergency brake OFF. This will be an issue numerous times, including the evening you and your girlfriends decide to drive it to a desert party, leaving it on all evening. Trust me. Don't forget to tell your sister you love her; it's so easy to get wrapped up in your own life and during these years she needs you now more than ever. Be there for her. Don't ditch Math class so much- bad grades in trigonometry will come back to haunt you in college and you will have to take remedial Math courses to make up for the deficiency. Save yourself the pain! Oh, and if you "happen" to hit a gas pump while driving out of the station, don't just leave! Be a good person and go in and talk to the attendant. This will avoid a huge headache later. Try to work on loving yourself, and pay attention to this one: you are not fat! Looking back now it's laughable to think that you, my little 115 pound 16-year old self ever thought she could lose some weight. Don't let Mom get rid of her vintage Frye boots, and don't throw away your collection of Sassy magazines. Don't pierce your belly button. Twelve years later the hole will still be there, and it will be itchy and annoying when you are pregnant with your first child. And on the topic of your first child: you WILL find love some day. I know it's hard being so young and feeling like you want to feel wanted and loved and part of something...but nothing you find at this age will be worth anything. Wait. Go slow. You are smart to not want to get tied down to anyone so young, and you will meet your other half in due time. He will be better than anything you could ever dream up. I promise. Life will be good to you, you just need to trust in that and try and slow down. And finally, this: believe in yourself. If I can impart any bit of wisdom that I've learned over the past decade, it is that. Give yourself more credit, because you are so fabulously wonderful in all of your teenage naivety. It's a beautiful thing to not know what's next, to not understand this wide, wide world, and that's exactly where you are. Everything will turn out okay. You will cry, you will laugh, you will lose friends and feel like you want to die. You will be depressed. You will be happy. You will have your heart broken, and you will break hearts. You are going to go to college, join a sorority, travel with your best girlfriends, and find adventure. You'll go to grad school. You will meet the love of your life, become a teacher, get married, and have a baby. I know it sounds like a distant fable at this point, but trust me, it only gets better. You think that 16 is great? Try 28. Just hang on, go slow, and breathe. You only get to do it once, and looking back on everything, that ride seems way too short. Above all else, stay positive, stay happy. And have fun!
So yes, that's what I would say to my 16-year old self. How about you? If you decide to write yourself a letter, link back here in the comments if you'd like to share; I'd love to read it! Have the best night, and happy letter-writing if you decide to do it! xoxo