Blogmas Day 5: Dear 11th Grade Lauren

Happy Friday, everyone! I know this post is a bit later than usual; I just looked at the clock on one of my study breaks and realized it would only be December 5th for 49 more minutes. Better late than never though, am I right?

Today was officially my last day of classes, and it was honestly so bizarre so realize this semester is drawing to a close. Of course I'll see all my professors once more next week to turn in papers/take exams, but there's something about the last class that's different. Professors are generally so much more relaxed during the last class and you can tell they're just about as done with the semester as us students are, which usually means a quick summary of the course, a university-mandated evaluation, and well wishes. Aka classes rarely go for longer than half an hour on the last day. At least that's always been my experience.

With my 3rd semester (out of a grand total of 8) of college out of the way, it's hard to believe in 2 and a half years I'll be a full-fledged adult with a degree and the expectation to get a real job. That's scary. Two and a half years isn't a long time away, but it seems so far in the future. If life keeps moving at its usual pace, though, I'll be receiving my purple and gold graduation gown sooner than I realize. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and I mentioned that college graduation is closer in the future than our junior year of high school is in the past. Like if you look at life on a timeline, this time in my life is closer to the real adult world than 11th grade. That's terrifying, because junior year seemed like it was yesterday. So in honor of that, I wanted this blog entry to be address to myself from that time. I want to give her some guidance and advice, because Lord knows she needs it.

So without further adieu:

Dear Lauren,

So you're sixteen now, that's exciting. You think you have everything figured out and know exactly where you want to go with your life, but I promise you're wrong. About everything. That's okay though, because with time you'll come to realize sixteen isn't the age where you figure it all out (to be fair, though, neither is 17, 18, or 19...okay to be totally honest you probably won't "figure it all out" any time in the near future, so don't hold your breath). Anyway: right now you're putting too much energy toward people who don't appreciate it and you're letting yourself be overshadowed for no reason. Because here's the deal, 16-year-old me: you're awesome. Sure I'm embarrassed at some of the decisions you'll make, but over all you're not giving yourself enough credit. You're too busy comparing yourself to everyone else to realize that you're talented and funny and smart and capable. Wow, I wish you would use some of your energy to realize that instead of worrying about boys who ultimately don't matter and moments that ultimately are barely a memory. You're still young though, you'll learn.

Anyway, let's get down to some specifics: over the summer your "best friend" moved across the country, so right now you're pretty focused on keeping in contact with her and Skyping as often as possible and listening to her complain about how much she hates her new school. That seems like a totally valid use of your time now, but I promise you it's not. It's really not. Sometime soon you'll find out that she's moving back for senior year, and you're going to be so, so excited. Again: not worth it. Because while you're so busy bending over backwards and making sure you're keeping her happy with you, she'll repay you in time by ignoring you and blatantly lying to you. Oh, and then when you become (understandably) upset to find out you've been treated poorly, she'll find a way to turn it around on you and make you the bad guy. In time and therapy you'll learn that's not the case, but you're gonna have to take a pretty hard hit from that one. Because you're such an anxious, eager-to-please person, you'll internalize her words and blame yourself for things that aren't your fault. Just a fair warning. Eventually you'll be able to relinquish your grudges, but don't count on rekindling that friendship. People either come in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. This was just one of those people that hung around to teach you a hard lesson, but ultimately that'll make you a much stronger person. As Elsa once said: Let It Go. Oh don't get that reference yet...that'll make sense about 2 years from now.

Anyway, speaking of those people that'll come into your life to stay, pay more attention to Julia and Ashley. They're both friends you've known for a little while, but they become so much more important this year. They're still your best friends three years from now and will be for the rest of your foreseeable life. When you go to a dark place next year (oh yeah...that's a long story, but just know you're gonna be pretty sad and hopeless for a while but it gets better) they, plus some key others, will be your saving graces. Don't take them for granted. Weeding out the bad people from your life will make you realize how great the good people are. Make sure you take the time to think about how blessed you are for those two.

On another note, this year you're also going to start applying to college and driving a car: wow. It's a big year. Yell at your parents less and listen to them more. That's all I have to say. They, believe it or not, know what they're talking about and have some experience in both of these fields. Also, your first car will be that car they both drove in the early 2000s that's been sitting in the driveway for years. It's not exactly a Mustang, but it's a good first car; don't take that for granted. Oh, and as for the college thing, just two pieces of advice: 1) don't worry so much, because you end up at a college you love and 2) seriously, listen to Mom when she says she wants you to "at least consider JMU" (spoiler alert: you'll enroll there and fall in love with it).

Now, I don't want to completely ruin the surprises in store for the next three years, because some of the things that happen and people you'll meet are just too good to give away. But I don't want to leave you completely hanging, so I'll leave you with some few teasers:
-That Writing Center class you signed up for? You don't realize it now, but it's about to be such an important part of your high school career. It might even take you to Chicago next Fall, but who knows...
-You'll get pulled over by a cop for the first time this upcoming summer, so don't worry about it until then. Also because I know you're already dreading it: you do not get a ticket, but you will cry nonetheless.
-You will not be sad to graduate high school.
-Your left wrist will have a tattoo on it soon enough. Of what? I can't say yet...
-You don't want to be an English teacher. Just stop fooling yourself now.

Alright, Little Lauren, that's all the advice I have for now. Hang in there. You're gonna move mountains.

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment." -Buddha (supposedly, but to be honest most of the quotes attributed to Buddha are straight-up fabrications of words he's never said)

(Present) Lauren


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