Dear 16-year-old self

Dear 16-year-old self,

If I were to tell you things will get better, would you believe me? Probably not, but that’s okay. I’ll tell you anyways. In a few years, you will look in the mirror, and you’ll see someone you want to see, exactly how she should be, no different. You will not need to stay at a certain weight to be happy, and you will see food as nourishment. Looks, in fact, will not matter half so much as they do now. In nine years, you’ll spend just a few minutes in the morning fixing your hair before you go to work. Right now you get up in the morning half an hour early to blow dry, straighten and curl your hair. But it won’t last. You look really fashionable right now; that won’t last either. Oh don’t worry. You won’t be frumpy in a few years, but you also won’t care half so much as you do now about the latest fashion trends, nor will you spend so much hard-earned money on them.

I am sad to report that those math and science classes you dislike so much really are a waste of time. You’ll never need them, never need to do math or that dreaded science, and for those rare occasions when you need math, they’ve got this handy tool: a calculator. So don’t fret about poor grades in the subjects. I do wish you’d study harder, though. Just because you don’t like something isn’t an excuse not to try your best. Right now you like your history classes and especially your English ones. The thought never crossed your mind before, but in just a few years, you’ll be writing for a newspaper. Surprised? Yeah, I thought so. Really you’re perfectly suited for it though. You observe everything, listen well, prefer working alone and enjoy writing. I know you’re thinking about teaching, inspired by that certain teacher of yours, but you’ve got to consider your introverted personality. Trust me on this one. It would completely drain you, all that nonstop talking.

You’re probably still reeling from the revelation on the career choice. But the surprises don’t end there. You will not meet a handsome boy in college to marry. I’m sorry to spoil your dreams. One boy will, however, break your heart. A few months before you graduate from college. You will think of him often and will feel like you cannot go on living without something so precious. But you can. As Anne Lamott writes, you will learn to dance even with a limp. And you will be stronger for it.

I wish I could tell you so much more, about loving yourself, about following your dreams and about not being afraid of what other people think. I wish I could tell you to love and laugh more than you do. I wish I could tell you how precious your friends are, because as you grow older, they fade quickly in and out of your life as they begin working and get married and have children. But then, if I told you everything, you wouldn’t have anything to discover on your own.

Love,

~ Yourself at 24.

(What would you tell your 16-year-old self?)

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