Browsing Instagram, I saw a post that read, “If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say?” That really got me thinking. All throughout my life, I’ve made it a point to never forget my former self, to remember her hopes and dreams, and to hopefully never disappoint her. I want to be the person that she wanted to be. I know I’m not where she thought I would be, but I also like to think she’d be proud of me. This is my letter to her.
Dear Jackie (or Jacqueline… I’m not sure if you’re still in that phase or not),
I hope you’re doing okay. I hope you’re happy. If you’re still in elementary school, I know you’re not. I know you think you’re too tall, too fat. You don’t like the fact that you’re ten years old and people think you’re in your late teens. You don’t like your hair or your glasses or your crooked teeth. You don’t have a lot of friends because you’re always off in your own head. You’re different and you don’t know why.
I’m writing to you today to reassure you and to prepare you for the days to come.
First of all, life is going to get better for you. In fact, it’s going to be awesome. Your high school years are amazing, and you’re going to meet your best friends in the world, the friends who are going to be with you for the rest of your life. They’re amazing. I can’t wait for you to meet them. You’re going to meet some boys, too. They’re super cute, but don’t lose your head over them. High school crushes don’t last. Stay focused on your dreams and your goals.
I do have to warn you, not all of your dreams are going to come true. And that’s okay. Yes, you will be devastated, but you’ll eventually learn that everything that happens happens for a reason. You have so many wonderful opportunities and adventures waiting for you, I’m actually a little jealous. And you’ve found new dreams, dreams that suit you perfectly. You’re going to chase them, and I hope you keep chasing them. I know I’m doing my best!
Unfortunately, your days are not all going to be smooth sailing. High school is awesome, but you have a lot of hard times waiting for you and your family. They will make you question everything you believe, and the after-effects are going to stay with you long after everything has passed. But these times will also help you to find your way, and you’ll discover a strength that you never knew you had. Be patient and remember that everything has a purpose. And try to forgive. It’s something I still struggle with, but I know that your heart is still very open to the innate goodness in people. I’m sorry to say that’s something I’ve lost over the years. Maybe you can help me to get it back.
I know I’m making it seem like you and I have nothing in common, but that’s not true. I still love all things ocean and yes, I’m still obsessed with Disney Princesses. But I’ve also grown in ways that I’m sure you never expected. For example, I have a tattoo. I know you think they’re totally taboo and would never in your wildest dreams see yourself getting one, but trust me, you’ll love them. You’re also going to learn to love your hair, once you figure out how to work with it. You’re going to spend three summers working at a summer camp (you definitely didn’t see that one coming). I also know you have that weird thing against popular music? I still don’t really understand that one, but you get over it really fast. Granted, a lot of what’s popular today is really stupid, but there is some good stuff out there. Don’t worry. You’re a smart kid. You’ll figure it out.
That’s something I really want you to know. You are smart. I know you don’t think you are because you haven’t quite figured out how to pay attention in class and you get nervous taking tests, but you are smart. It comes as a surprise, not only to you, but to everyone around you, because let’s face it, you’re kind of goofy (and I say that with love), but you are. Please promise me you’ll remember that.
Unfortunately, you’re going to struggle with self-esteem issues all your life. High school is fine, but college and grad school get a little rough. I can’t tell you why. I can only tell you that I’m finally beginning to overcome them. Hang in there, and don’t let self-doubt or self-image get you down. You are worth so much more than you think you are.
I know this is getting far too serious, but there are still things I feel I should warn you about. First of all, don’t take Calculus. Just don’t even bother. You won’t understand a bit of it, and it will end up being the only C you’ll ever get in your life. Second, do not, I repeat, do NOT drive in ice. You will total your car. Trust me. Third, getting your wisdom teeth out is going to be the worst physical experience of your life. Brace yourself. It’s truly horrible.
Finally, I wanted to tell you that I’ve been doing a lot of digging into our ancestry and family history. I want you to know that you were right. You are descended from Kings and Queens of Ireland, Scotland, England, Denmark, Sweden, France, and even Jerusalem. You are, in fact, a Princess. Trust me, I’m just as excited about it as you are. That’s definitely something I haven’t grown out of.
I know this is getting kind of long, so I’ll let you go. I just wanted you to know that everything is going to work out for the better. There will be times you don’t think it will. You’re gong to feel lost, abandoned, hopeless, scared, small, even worthless. But you’re also going to experience tremendous joy, excitement, love, achievement, adventure, creativity, discovery, and hilarity. And those times far outweigh the heavy and the negative.
Keep dreaming, keep believing, and be yourself. It will all be worth it in the end.
Your 26-Year-Old Self