First off, let’s get this straight: I would much rather visit you in person, but, alas, I have yet to discover time travel. I have been too busy eating sandwiches.
Seriously, though, I have some things to say to you.
To begin with, change is good. As my time in high school is coming to a close, I realize this now more than ever.
If it weren’t for change, you would still be the same awkward 12-year-old with braces and a bad perm, dreaming about marrying Troy Bolton. ("The Start of Something New"? Swoon.) But change can also be terrifying. And why wouldn’t it be? Change leads us into the unknown. The unknown is exactly that — different, terrifying, and full of opportunities we haven’t experienced (and may not want to).
Luckily, change happens no matter what.
Sometimes I feel I’ve changed so drastically that, if I met you now, we might not even get along because we’re so different. But who am I kidding? We’re still pretty great.
I do think you would be somewhat shocked at how far I/you’ve come since the beginning of high school. Like, guess what? You stop wearing makeup and straightening your hair to impress people. You have better things to do (like sleep). Also, spoiler alert: You don’t lose all the weight, but you gain the self-confidence you’ve been missing for a very long time. You’re probably not looking for advice because you want to be able to do everything on your own (you will give up on this), but I’m going to tell you a few things anyway.
1. Don’t apologize for your opinions. In fact, stop apologizing for so many things. It’s not fair to yourself.
2. Forgiveness is good, but you are not a doormat. Don’t be afraid to not let someone back in.
3. Tell your grandparents you love them. All. The. Time.
4. Don’t be afraid to call yourself a feminist. See number one.
5. Put down that chef salad and pick up the cheeseburger for the love of God! You hate salad, and you know it.
You should also know that you will lose parts of yourself that you currently believe are absolutely imperative to your existence. You will stop believing in lots of things, people, and ideas, but you are still whole. You are still you — even more so.
But, sadly, the world is going to let you down. A lot. You are going to see awful things happen on the news, and you’re going to feel enormously frustrated because you can’t do anything. However, the most important thing that you will come to realize is that your voice matters. You, just like everyone else, have some amazing things to say. They are inside you, bubbling and simmering like a dinner dish, waiting to be savored by somebody. Anybody. Even if it’s just 10 people, or nine, or eight, or one. If your words can comfort, cultivate empathy, or generate laughter, you have done a beautiful thing.
You will do this often.
Lastly, I want to give you something. It’s the permission to change your mind. A lot. And the ability to not feel guilty about it. Be indecisive. It keeps you growing and changing and questioning. (That’s a good thing.)
Most important, I love you, and I believe in you times 100.
P.S. We kinda gave up on the Disney Channel dream. I know, I’m sorry. But there are much better things to come. Trust me.
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