dear me, please listen.
a collection of letters to our younger selves.
It is your seventeenth birthday. You have learned so much, yet know so little. Please be patient with mom and dad, no one quite understands your brain. Please don’t keep inadequate friends for their beauty and false sense of trust, they will only add daggers in your fairly tattered heart. Speaking of your heart, follow it. Don’t fear your sexuality. It’s okay to like girls, you aren’t faking it for attention. You can like boys too, that’s a real thing. Please remain kind, don’t let your unhappiness be projected on to your friends. You might lose the best of the bunch, treasure the ones who stay. Think for yourself, don’t allow your family members bully you into submission. Continue to stand up for what you believe in. Also, there’s no shame in waiting and being timid of physical intimacy. There’s also no shame in wanting to feel sexual and showing off your body. You aren’t too skinny by the way. You’ll soon come to learn that the way your body looks is the exact way others look. Your boobs are normal, your vagina is normal. I promise. Keep working on yourself, and take your medication as directed.
This will all make sense soon,
Your newly seventeen year old self
I know you’re going to hate a lot of the things I say in this, but we both know how honest I am, and you need to be told the truth. The truth is it’s not that bad, and yes I know you cry yourself to sleep every night about how bad it is, but it’s not that bad. You thought for so long if one small thing goes wrong the world ends, but here I am writing this letter to you. So it couldn’t have been that bad. The truth is you’re not going to know who your real friends are for a really long time, you may even be struggling with it now, but some of them do stay consistent. Cherish them. Everyone is going to tell you you’re over reacting when you cut them all out of your life but you’ll later on be described as the “perfect storm” so be a storm, sometimes I think you should be a bigger storm than you are. The truth is you feel so obligated to love everyone that has ever done a favor for you, but you’re so disconnected. That’s okay, you show your love through the lines between what you say and how you touch. If they can’t recognize that, it’s their own fault. The truth is that boy really doesn’t matter as much as you think he does. He’s going to tear down all of your walls that you painted with care. Then he’s going to destroy you all while making you laugh so you think it’s okay. It’s not. So let your heart break, give it time to heal. Going back doesn’t mend all the damage he caused. The truth is you shouldn’t feel bad for taking time to yourself. Everyone is constantly asking for attention. You can’t afford to give everyone everything you have. Don’t feel bad for telling people the truth. Don’t feel bad for telling someone how they hurt you. And don’t feel bad for leaving someone because you aren’t okay in your brain. The truth is hurting yourself won’t help any of it. I know you think it’s a coping mechanism, it’s not. It’s an addiction and you can find other things to fill your empty spots. When people tell you their tummies ache because of what you’re doing to yourself, don’t be so hard headed. You’re a strong girl, admit when you’re wrong. The truth is you’re going to find something you love and spoiler alert: it’s art. We both know when we were in second grade that’s all we wanted to do in life was become an artist. Well you’re still pursuing it at 18 years old. Continue to strive. Continue doodling on every surface you can find. Don’t stop scratching that pencil. Let people look at all your artwork. Be vulnerable with it and take all the advice you can. The truth is music is every thing. You will never be good at making it on your own, but you cherish it so much more than you realize. Go to every awkward concert. If you don’t know the words then stand in the back and dance the whole night. You’ll find a band that you love so much you’ll let them inhabit your skin forever. Listen to the song called “me” it will make sense to you. The truth is the hurting never really stops. I’ve explained so many times to so many people that it’s like waves. It gets really bad a lot of the times, but it will calm down, and you will learn to cope. By breathing, by counting, by creating instead of destroying.
To the Girl I Was Then,
I know you care a lot about your image. Your reputation, and what people think of you. You have carved yourself into this perfect girl using stencils other people made. You’re hanging out with the wrong crowd. The girls you think are your best friends are just using you. (They’ll get caught with alcohol in seventh grade.) That boy you like is only keeping you close to pass time, and when a girl who knows how to tumble and spell aloud comes around, you’ll be nothing to him. (They’ll have a bitter ending and he will move away to play football.) These things will hurt you. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Stop wasting your time with people who place popularity above their own happiness, and stop changing to fit in with them. It doesn’t matter what people think. When someone makes a crude comment behind your back, calmly demand that they repeat themselves, and have a fist ready behind your back. There’s nothing wrong with fighting back. There’s nothing wrong with standing up for yourself. People don’t expect it, and that will terrify them. Be the girl who reacts differently.
The only opinion that matters is your own. Don’t ever forget that.
That boy will not like you, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t like you. You may not want to hear it, but how you feel about these people and the lack of attention you receive, won’t matter in five, ten, fifteen years. I promise. And that boy will grow up to break more hearts than he can count, leaving his own in buried the dust that he created. And you don’t want anything to do with that, because you are better than that. Even if you don’t see it.
And you may not love the girl who looks back at you from the mirror and it may not get any easier, and I hate that, but that’s society. Someday it won’t be those girls that are putting on shiny lip gloss in the locker room telling you that you aren’t good enough. Instead it will be you, so start growing that self love now because you will need it more than you know.
It may not get easier but it will get better and you still have so much time to grow and learn. It is never the end. Never let words mean more to you than actions and never let the actions of others determine your fate. You are the author of your story so start writing, because you may not know it yet, but surprise! You’re going to be a writer.
You have so much to offer, so please, stop hiding.
With love and honesty,
Your slightly older self.
Dear Younger Self,I know things seem tough right now. You’re going through so many changes and everything seems like it’s designed to knock you down. Your weight, your appearance, your home life. Your mental state. You’re hurting, and I want you to know a few things before you being the toxic and self destructive patterns that are all you’ve ever known.
1) Self-Love is so important. If you don’t love you, if you don’t have your own back, what do you have?
2) Forgive yourself for past mistakes. You were younger and far less wise then.
3) Be supportive of your friends. This is something we still struggle with because society tells us to be jealous of our female friends. But I suggest you say “eff that” and support your friends so much that even they begin to love themselves as much as you love them.
4) Cherish your dysfunctional family. They really do want what’s best for you, after all.
5) You don’t have to explain yourself. You’re valid without anyone having to validate your every action.
6) Most of the problems you have will be okay in the long run. Just be positive and stay so strong.
7) You’re you, and that’s beautiful. There’s no need or reason to be self conscious or hate yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. Love you, accept you, rock your look. Simple as that.
8) Don’t let anything obstruct your view of the future. It’s there and it’s bright.
9) Don’t let anyone tell you who you are and who you’re gonna be. You call the shots, homie. Not your pals.
10) Cut toxic people out! Life is so much better when you do.
The storm will clear up. You will be so okay. So, so okay. And so happy. Life is tough, and so are you.
You wouldn’t be here if you couldn’t handle it. And we’re so capable of handling it.
So let’s go!
Love, You, But Older.
Listen, I know that you’re more sensitive and vulnerable and naive than most. Wipe your tears, pick your head up, and don’t let things get to you so much, because everything is temporary. There are going to be a lot of things coming your way in life that are going to make you feel like everything is over, and that nothing will ever be right. Things will get better in just about every aspect, I promise. Just hang in there.
Please, think for yourself. Make your own decisions, don’t follow the crowd, do what feels right to you. Stop living in other people’s shadows, stop being so afraid to say no to even the littlest of things. Stick up for yourself against everybody for every little thing, stop letting them take advantage of you be your kindness.
I know you hate where you live, it feels like you’re confined in four walls with thousands of people whose ignorance makes you uncomfortable and angry. Start searching for you identity now. Research more about your Native American, African American, and Mexican roots. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right, even if this means combatting the simplest micro-aggressions every single day. Don’t let people touch your hair, or make racist comments and insinuations about you. Please, this will help you so much in life.
There is going to be someone who comes into your life that will become very important to you. She’s going to help you discover a lot of important things about yourself. Just take it one step at a time with her, and understand that she’s not going to stay forever. Do not let her consume you. I know the feeling of what you think is love is amazing, but it won’t last. Just be careful. You’re going to endure a long winter of loneliness and sadness. Do not hold your emotions back, let it out and then let it go.
Stop trying to fix everything, because it’s completely out of your power. Just learn how to adapt quickly and go with the flow of everything, this will be crucial for you mental health.
Once again, everything is temporary. Choose your path wisely, think decisions through, and stop worrying.
Slightly less hysteric 17 year old you.