Yearbooks. We all have them stashed somewhere. Every once in a while you pull one out and flip through it, laughing at the trends and reveling at how young we all once were. This was my Sunday night (having finally found mine buried in a box from my many moving experiences). The phrase “these are the best years of your life” is tied to these memories for a lot, but I have always wanted to find the person that coined that and throat punch them. They were awkward and painful for me and I don’t like to look back on them too often. There are so many things that I wish I could go back and tell myself to make the experience easier. Unfortunately, there is no way to go back and fix anything, but in the spirit of reminiscing, here is an open letter to myself.
Dear 15 year old me,
The next 3 years are going to be rough. You will feel insecure the majority of the time, but rest assured that this will not last forever. Eventually, you will stop caring what others think of you and you will realize who really appreciates you for who you are. Trust me, there are plenty of people you are worrying about impressing that do not matter. Be who you are and love yourself for it, anyone who can’t appreciate that doesn’t need to be in your life anyway. You are beautiful and stronger than you think you are.
Don’t let that insecurity hold you back from trying new things and experiencing what life has to offer- you will regret passing up opportunities in the future if you don’t. Try a new sport, join a club- just get out there and enjoy the trial and error.
Remember who your true friends are and don’t take them for granted. It is ok that you do not fit just one mold and can relate to people from many walks of life. This is a trait that is to be embraced and will help you be more sympathetic in the future. It is also ok that you don’t fit in with the “in-crowd”. This is a small town that you will not be stuck in forever and when you leave you will truly understand that being a big fish in a small pond isn’t all its cracked up to be. Remember this, and be careful that you don’t spend so much time trying to please those that don’t accept you because the truth is they won’t.
You will face internal battles that no one around you will be able to understand. What you are feeling is real even if it is not always rational. This does not make you the drama queen that they will label you as. This doesn’t change when you move into adulthood either. It is difficult for others who have never been through this struggle to understand the weight of it, but that doesn’t make it any less of a burden. Just remember there are healthy ways to escape and ask for help when you need it because you are not alone. You will survive it, even when it feels that the hole is too deep and you will never get out. So get rid of the chip on your shoulder because you do not always have to be the tough girl you try to portray.
You will fall in love, and it will hurt. He will be everything to you and you will be everything to him, but you will soon understand that this is not always enough. Don’t let this keep you from enjoying the experience. It is an amazing feeling and one that you will never forget. You will learn a lot from this person and there will be mistakes made, and hopefully he will learn a thing or two from you. You will laugh and you will cry and come away understanding what it means to connect with another soul. When it doesn’t work out, it will break your heart but don’t let it define how you view yourself.
This will not be your only experience with boys in high school, and all I can say is that the majority of the opposite sex that you will encounter at this age are just assholes. Do not tie your self worth into their treatment of you- they are young and dumb just like you and do not understand the impact of their actions. You will waste so many tears but again these are just lessons learned. When you are able to look back on it, you will truly be grateful that it never worked out. You will also see the ones that turned out to be the good guys- so be careful that you do not let the jerks overshadow them.
As much as you don’t want to hear this part, go easy on mom and dad. They hurt when you hurt and rejoice in your triumphs. They may not always know exactly what to do with you, but one day you will have your own child and understand that there is no instruction manual to turn to. You will also understand what it means to truly have your heart walking around outside of your body and your strongest desire will be to see him succeed just as theirs is for you. You will love them and you will hate them. You will try their patience but they will love you through it all. They are your number one fans, even when it feels like that isn’t the case.
At the end of the road, you will make mistakes and there will be regrets. There will be good memories and bad. There will be plenty of “should haves” and “could haves” but they are not to be dwelled on. Life is too short to focus on the things that passed us by. As much as you hear it, these are not the best years of your life. The truth is, these are fleeting moments that are just a springboard for what is to come. Enjoy the good times and persevere through the bad. You are on your way to becoming the woman you never knew you wanted to be. You got this.
Thanks for reading.