I recently tweeted that I have less than a month until my birthday. I was then asked by one of my followers how old I will be. They were shocked to hear that I will be turning 20. (Apparently I act rather middle-aged.) So, in preparation of my 20th birthday, here is a list of things that I wish I had been telling myself for the last two decades.
Dear Me at 6: Don’t fight with your sister so much. You don’t know this now (and it still hasn’t happened yet), but one day the two of you will be best friends. You’ll threaten to kill any boy who ever tries to hurt her. Don’t take her for granted. There are things in your lives that only the two of you have gone through, and only the two of you will understand. You’ll bond eventually. Be patient with her.
Dear Me at 12: Stop trying to fit in. I know you feel like your American Eagle jeans and Abercrombie top make you “cool” but honestly they’re just clothes. You aren’t the only kid in the school with braces, and you aren’t the only one who has still got their baby fat. You’ll make good grades and make some friends that you’ll lose contact with but never forget. P.S.: the moose on your shirt doesn’t make you more popular. Your mom works hard to make sure you have the best of everything. Thank her for it.
Dear Me at 14: High school is scary. You’ll learn your way around eventually. Don’t take being in a magnet school for granted, you won’t be there forever. Don’t stress when you get kicked out over your GPA being .0001% too low. Cry and get it all out, and then get over it. There are better things in store for you.
Dear Me at 15: Your very first kiss ever in your driveway in that car. Yikes. I promise you’ll get better at it and I promise you’ll grow to really like doing that even though right now you’re sorta kinda scared. It’s okay – you’ll meet girls who didn’t get kissed until 18. You’re still cool. By the way, don’t sweat that first breakup. You’ll end up being the best of friends, even after high school.
Dear Me at 16: You feel like a hole has been torn through your chest and you’ll never be able to breathe again. You’ll pull through, but it won’t be easy. You’ve just lost a lot of friends but gained a lot of strength that you don’t even know you have. Looking back on it, you’ll realize that you are one of the strongest women you’ll ever know. It doesn’t feel that way now, but be patient.
Dear Me at 18: I’m glad you had the strength to walk away from that guy. The time y’all were together will forever define you and what you think of yourself. But the strength you gained from that alone is empowering. When you’re ready, jump head first into this new relationship. He’s a great guy.
Dear Me at 19: Go visit your papa more. There will come a day when he’s no longer here with you. You can’t ask him to bait your hook or have him fix you a grilled cheese anymore. He will pass away in 2013 after you’ve been busy with school and your own life and you spend every day thereafter wishing you went and spent time with him. You will always, always regret this. This year will be the most self-changing, self-defining, self-growing, self-learning, independent year of your life. Don’t change a thing. There will be times you wish you could go back, and times that you will, but I promise you, if you hold on, you’ll see why the hardest experience will turn into the best thing to happen to you.
Dear Me, less than a month till 20: I’m proud of who you have been, who you are today, and who you will be tomorrow.