A Letter to Who I Once Was

Dear sixteen-year-old Allie,

Okay, it’s very weird using my own name to refer to myself. But that’s not the point here.

Hello, how are you? Hope all is well. You’re just a sophomore now, going into your junior year. And last year was rough. High school in general has been rough. I’m here to let you know a few things as you look forward to the next few years (and in your case, hoping they go by as quickly as possible).

High school thus far has not been all it’s cracked up to be. I mean, it’s definitely an improvement from middle school (thank goodness we survived that mess), but you’re still not satisfied. You’re trying to find happiness in some of the wrong places. I know you’ve just spent the entirety of your summer recovering from some very unhealthy habits. Sorry to say it won’t be the last time you face that demon. Even if that demon looks very attractive, promising you self-confidence and comfort, it’ll bring you nothing but trouble. Having a weight in the double digits or fitting into a certain pants size doesn’t bring you the happiness you’re seeking. It will take a few stumbles to finally realize that. Just know that despite long periods of darkness, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

You’ve been silently questioning to yourself whether or not your feelings of anxiety and depression are real, or it’s just something normal, a part of life you have to suffer through. It took way too long, but you finally got a diagnosis, a validation that yes, there’s a reason you live many days feeling as if you’re surrounding by grey gauze. It’s so scary to ask for help and admit your pain, but trust me, it’s one of the greatest things you’ll ever do for yourself.

In general, you are very guarded. You feel like you can’t really trust anybody. You fear attaching yourself to people who soon walk away. But at the same time, you fear mediocrity, that you’re not special enough to be remembered. This is a battle without a victor. Vulnerability isn’t equivalent to failure. You don’t have to put up a front. The most treasured moments and connections with others will be when you let that guard down and open up about your hardships. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

High school feels like it lasts an eternity, but IT ENDS! -insert dance party here- All of those instances that feel so dramatic and stressful are passing memories. In the retrospect of life, they don’t matter. So what you got third chair in band? Or you got a B on that one test? Or you’ll never actually get a lead role in a play? You’re putting so much effort into things that, in reality, do not matter whatsoever. Just don’t get so worked up when something doesn’t go your way (again) because they’ll just keep happening, it’s your nature. But life has so much more to offer than dwelling on shortcomings.

Over these next three years, you will grow and mature so much as a person. You feel like you’re super mature and have your life all together right now, but you definitely don’t. There is still plenty of growing up to do. You can’t really imagine that we are the same human, that we came from the same origins. I’m sorry it’s taking so long to believe in yourself and your abilities. It’s always a work in progress.

Your trip to Europe this summer is still one of the best times of your life. You won’t get to travel as much as you like, but I hope to pack my bags and explore the world as soon as I can. Your next adventure: Canada. Okay, sounds a little lame right now, but get excited for a new environment, new people, and new discoveries ahead.

You’re going to the college that you refuse to even consider right now. It’s not as bad as you make it out to be. I know you can’t wait to completely leave this state behind and start fresh somewhere else, but that time will come, I promise. An affordable education is more important right now.

College doesn’t necessarily give you a dramatic life change. You definitely still only go out to socialize about once a month and watch way too much TV. Your birthday will be a heck of night, though. I’ll just keep it at that to keep you in suspense.

If you think I know what I’m doing with my life, I don’t. Sorry about that. I’m still very indecisive. Writing is part of the plan, I just have to figure out how to make that happen still.

Your relationships with others will be going on a bumpy roller coaster ride, full of challenges, times you feel like everyone is against you and are completely alone. In these past few months, they will improve dramatically. You can actually call your mom one of your best friends. You are surrounded by some amazing people who love and support you. Friends will come and go, but everybody will teach you something that you’ll always carry with you. It’s all part of growing up.

But hey, I know you think you’ll be single forever, but for a few months in your junior year, good things will happen! Super exciting! They don’t last long enough, but it gives you hope for future romantic prospects. Thus far, not much luck. A couple of potential interests, but no dice. I’m focusing on building our future right now, but if I stumble into someone special, I’ll let you know.

You don’t eat cheese anymore. And you don’t miss it.

And once you actually try coffee, you’ll be drinking it every day.

You can run a mile in 11 minutes now. Take that, PACER tests.

You’re slightly less awkward now. But not by much.

You now have a fantastic taste in music. You’re welcome.

Before I leave you, just remember to appreciate the simple moments. Don’t always wish for time to go by so quickly because it’ll soon all become blurry. Every day is a gift. Enjoy it while you can. Stay strong, keep on keeping on, and know that your future self is doing just fine.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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