Letter to My Teenage Self

You’re braver than you think you are. You’re more capable than you know right now. You think of yourself as small and invisible. You don’t yet know that a lot of girls feel the same way. That a lot of girls are made to feel this way. You spend too much time wishing yourself away. Thankfully, it never takes. These perceptions don’t hold, but they do take time to unravel.

You will come to learn that you matter. You will come to learn that you are nothing but significant.

Those stories you write matter. Those dreams you have matter. Those people you love matter. Those heartbreaks and humiliations and missed opportunities don’t. At least not in the way you think they do. They will help to form you, mold your character, your sense of humor, your voice. Those stories, lyrics and journal entries are your way of making sense of the world, making sense of yourself. They keep you from coming apart, your pen pulling the seams of your mind back together.

Your involvement in theatre sets the foundation for a lifelong love affair with the arts. You enjoy every second of it and that will make a world of difference in your life.

The pain you’re going through right now will define you for awhile. But you will come to define yourself on your own terms as you get older. You’ll experiment with your hair and piercings. Girl, you get tattoos. All the pain you’re going through will take a long time to heal. But it will heal. Through the power of time and patience, focused attention and frivolous diversions.

Eighteen is the hardest year. You ache constantly. You struggle to see the purpose in trying, you struggle to care about yourself, you struggle to reach out. You don’t know how. It’s okay, you don’t have to have it all figured out right now. The secret that no one tells you is that no one has it figured out.

You persist. You are kept afloat by the love and support of your family. This remains to be true your whole life.

You fall in love. Hard, crashing, safe, strong love. You spend a lot of time doubting you deserve it. You spend a lot of time hating yourself. You spend a lot of time wishing you were different. This love is steady anyway. This love cracks you open. This love is the honey in your tea, sweet and soothing. This love for him somehow blossoms into love for yourself. This love gives you faith. This love shapes and molds and holds you.

You miss a home that no longer exists. But your family, broken now, will form again. It’ll become whole in a new shape. What was once a circle, becomes a sphere, making room for everyone. You will find your capacity for love and forgiveness is deeper than you expected. You will see your parents as people, your sisters as allies, your family as complex and strong and vital.

You’re going to leave for awhile. You have to do it. Your wings are small, but eager. You will ride gale force winds toward places you had never imagined you would find. Your path is meandering and unclear. There are small beacons of light along the way, encouraging you to keep moving forward by illuminating the path before you. You follow the lights. Always follow the lights.

You come back to yourself. You come back to your family. You come back.

You wake up.

You speak up.

Your strength surprises you. Your courage propels you. This remains true.

So much about the world scares you right now. You’re unsure and shaky. That continues in various ways throughout life. You will be lost. For a long time. Take heart, there is so much left and the answers reveal themselves over time. Never stop seeking, trying, yearning.

You feel restless all of the time. Use it.

There will be loss. There will be pain. There will be joy and triumph and aching laughter.

There is so much to discover in this long life. You get to be a mother. You get to write. You get to travel and explore and experiment. There is an ever dawning sense that the best is still yet to come. The more you come to know yourself, the more solidly planted you will feel.

You do heal. You put the work in and you heal. You work hard. You help a lot of people. You learn. You fail. You grow.

You’ll discover that the journey that you are following, the only journey that makes sense to you, is the soul’s journey. Not that of external milestones, not that of goals or accomplishments, but that of what is nourishing, what is in sync, what feels right.

You’re poised to have so much fun in your life. You always were a blast and that doesn’t change.

You often look around for the adults before remembering you are supposed to be one. You feel young in a lot of ways. Younger than your peers. You don’t love that you’re a late bloomer. It makes what you think is important right now really hard.

But you will come to find what a gift and blessing this is in your life. You’ll see in retrospect that there is nothing gained from rushing an experience, pushing a timeline, straining to catch up to an invisible line. You can only be where you are and there is endless freedom in that knowledge.

You don’t necessarily come to love all the things you hate about yourself. But you will learn to mute that voice. You’ll find a way to mother yourself as you learn to mother your child. It’s an ongoing battle to care for yourself, but you get better at it.

You don’t have it all figured out. Far from it. But your toolbox is ample, your network is strong, your safety net is large. Life is so good to you. Exist in that blessing, give out of that blessing, you are of that blessing.

Never stop trying, never stop questioning, never stop.

You are so thoroughly loved.

xo

P.S. You know that guy from your Calculus class? The one with the spiky hair and the unapologetic humor? Yeah, you totally marry him. I know, right? So cute.

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