Remember that time when you were 10, and you sat down and wrote a letter to your future 20-something year old self? Now it's my turn to write a letter to you. First, I think you'd be proud of the woman you are today. You've made a hell of a transition from the shy, awkward and frizzy haired creature you once were, but you kept a few remnants of that little girl in your heart that will last forever. I know you thought you'd be a "grown up" by the time you were 23, but I'm here to tell you that you're wrong, and I'm glad you are, because I still have a lot of growing up to do. Here are some things I've learned since then...
1. You don't have to be friends with everyone, and that's ok. You are not obligated to spend your time with anyone who doesn't value your worth as a person, or who does not appreciate your unique way of seeing the world. You will go through a period of time where your "friends" will try to break you down and change you into someone you're not. They'll tell you your clothes are aren't sexy enough, that you read too much, and that the sweet, unique, and intelligent boys you have crushes on aren't cool. Don't listen to them. You'll soon realize the value of friends who love you for exactly who you are, and you won't ever, ever have to pretend to be a censored version of your true self around them in order to feel accepted. This, sweet girl, will set you free.
2. Girls Rule & Boys Drool. You'll do and say some really stupid things to make boys like you, and you'll do even dumber things to keep them around when you start to feel them pull away. Let them go. As of right now, no boy or man has ever been worth risking my dignity or self-respect over, and I doubt such a man will ever exist. I'm still in the process of learning this, but I can at least tell you not to worry your heart as much as I've worried mine over stupid, stupid things. As much as you'll feel like the world is crashing around you after your first boyfriend breaks up with you, you will survive (also, you'll see him at Jazz Fest 8 years later and hardly recognize him because, unfortunately, teenage metabolism does not last forever).
3. Be Yourself. Cliche, I know, but you're spending way too much time trying to be someone you aren't. Stop it. You will be bombarded with pressure over the next few years, and I want you to know that you don't have to give in to any of it. Just a heads up, you are not, and never will be, a party girl. I hate to break it to you, but you'll always prefer bubble baths and Netflix marathons over smoky and socially unfulfilling nights out at a bar. You'll never be the girl crowd surfing at a concert, nor will you ever be the type to get hammered and not remember making out with a stranger the next morning. Try as you might to silence her, the voice of your inner self is that of a 70 year old woman. Embrace her, she is your future. You'll make a fabulous Golden Girl someday, so at least we have that to look forward to.
4. Keep your character. Quirkiness and awkwardness became endearing circa 2010 thanks to New Girl, but before that, it was just seen as weird. You missed your window on this one, kid, but embrace it anyways. I occasionally still want to strangle myself for some of the idiotic things I said and did when I was younger, but honestly, the cringe-y moments of your adolescence are what give way to your character as an adult. For instance, that time where your best friend's new neighbors moved in and you unknowingly did a running stage dive onto their sleeping mother has proven itself to be an amazing party story. And that one time at the skating rink where you lost control and fell into a man's lap through the newspaper he was reading is also big hit. Organic comedy, girlfriend. Own it.
5. Don't grow up too fast. I know it's nearly impossible to be fully present when your entire future is ahead of you, but try to enjoy every step of where you are. Looking back, there are moments of my childhood and adolescence that I would give anything to experience again. I miss the simple joy of my mom picking me up early from school, waking up at the crack of dawn with my little brother on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought us, or being carried to bed by my dad after falling asleep on the couch. I wish I could go back to high school and be on the same playing field as my peers again, without things like full time jobs and serious relationships getting in the way. Embrace being bored, enjoy having to depend on your parents for rides to the movies with your friends, and put your all into the teams and organizations you're part of. You'll miss it like hell when you no longer have an excuse to dance.
A few more things, then I promise I'll leave you alone.
- I know you hate your eyebrows right now because they're thick, dark, and clinically insane, but you'll be on top of your game in roughly 10 years. Don't tweeze them too much before it's too late; you and your brows will have their time to shine.
- Enjoy spending time with your little brother while he's still little. Spoiler alert: One day he'll be 6 ft 3 and you won't be able to pick him up or play "Circus" with him anymore, and he'll be driving, and soon he'll be graduating high school and going away to college because he's an adult. You'll be so incredibly proud of him.
- You will never be too old to spend time with your parents. To this day, there is nothing that a hug from my mom can't fix, or that a car ride or dinner date with my dad can't teach me. You are the luckiest girl in the world to have them, do not ever forget that.
- Do not buy the shiny teal purse and matching wallet from Target while back to school shopping for 8th grade. Your mom and best friend are right, it's hideous. Admit to your faults and put the purse down.
See, little self? Everything is going to be just fine. You have a lot to look forward to. Keep your head up, be yourself, and do what you love.