I don't know if it's the fact that I spend nearly every moment of the day by myself (thank you for your continued service, Coronavirus) or the fact that Taylor Swift recently re-released an album from 2008, but I've been thinking about the past a lot. Or rather, my past. The person I used to be; the girl I was and all the personalities and interests she was trying on for size. The tantrums, the dreams, the ambitions, and the delusions.
I'm closer to my thirties than I am to my teen years--though I swear just in years, and not in spirit. I'm not sure when I'll wake up and decide I'm an adult, but it wasn't today and it probably won't be tomorrow, either. Feigned adolescence aside, it's true that I am getting to a point in my life where I look back on a younger me with less resentment and with more empathy.
I wish the space-time continuum allowed me to somehow be my own older sister and look after myself in middle school. Because that's how I feel about Younger Me. I recognize she is a part of me, because once upon a time I was her, but mostly I look at her like a separate entity that I now want to protect. I want to shelter her and cheer her on and wipe her tears and make her laugh and validate her feelings. There's so much I want to tell her and so much I want her to remind me of. So if you don't mind, you can stay and keep reading, but I think it actually might be nice to devote the rest of this blog post to Younger Me specifically.
Attn. Younger Me:
Hi. I promise I'll try my best not to over-exercise those cliché lines from all those time travel movies, but if you can believe it, I'm you from the future. Actually, I think that's pretty believable. We look more or less the same. I haven't done anything crazy to my appearance; the most eccentric it gets around here is a few tiny tattoos and a yearlong stint of dying our hair bright red in college.
Speaking of appearances though, I do want to let you know the braces come off and you'll finally figure out how to make your eyebrows cooperate with the rest of your face. I know you so badly want to wear makeup and shop where all the other girls at school do, but for the love of God you're so tiny and cute and when I look back at you now, I see someone who looks her age, which frankly is becoming more and more of a novelty.
I'm not here to talk to you about your looks, though. Looks are the least interesting thing I could talk to you about, because you're so smart and you don't even realize it. You have so many good ideas and giant goals. I love that you want to be a novelist for a living. I almost hate to tell you you will not go on to do that. But once your ego reminds you you'd much rather write about yourself instead of made up people, you'll be totally cool with letting that dream go in favor of new ones.
We have a lot in common, you know. I mean, aside from the whole "sharing the same existence" thing, a lot of steadfast threads tie the two of us together. We both love a lot of the same music and going to Target with our mom. We both cry far more often than we'd like to, but we both keep thinking that'll change in a few years once we're a little older. We both hate tomatoes and rollercoasters. We both would rather die than have the waitstaff of a restaurant find out its our birthday and sing to us in public.
We're also both highly anxious creatures, but I don't know if you know that about yourself yet. Just so you know--and I'm only telling you this because it'll come as a big shock to you later if I don't tell you now--not everyone overthinks the way you do. Most of your classmates don't stay up all night before the first day of school overanalyzing what time to walk to the bus stop. I wish I could tell you I've devised the perfect plan to overcome mental illness, but all I can tell you is I'm still working on it, and overanalyzing how many exclamation points to put in a corporate email is the new overanalyzing what time to walk to the bus stop.
Because you're an overthinker by nature, I'm going to quell some of the thoughts bouncing around your head. Whatever laundry list of neuroses you're currently blowing out of proportion: I guarantee it doesn't matter.
I have no idea who that person is.
I don't remember the dumb thing you said.
I don't care about that fight with your friend from the seventh grade.
Yes, everyone else has experienced that thing you think has only ever happened to you.
No, you didn't bleed through your jeans during history class.
No, it doesn't matter that you didn't get the lead in the 8th grade musical.
No, this feeling isn't forever.
You're funny. You're observant. You're imaginative. You're conscientious. You're talented. You're resourceful. You're enough. I figure 1) It's not cocky if I'm talking to you, Past Self and 2) I wish we told young girls how great they are more often, especially greatness that doesn't pertain to how they look or what size they wear.
On top of all those great things, you're also often loud and annoying, and on occasion you have a bad attitude and sometimes you're just downright wrong. I promise I'm not trying to be harsh: You're allowed to be all of those things. I wish you would relinquish a little bit of control and stop caring so much about what it looks like or what people think or what the "correct" thing to do is. Eventually you'll discover true confidence is not walking into a room and telling yourself, "Everyone in here is going to love me," but rather, "Everyone in here can feel however they want about me, and it doesn't matter, because I love me."
You're a pretty precocious kid, and when I look at myself I see little habits you started or mannerisms you created. I mean that as a compliment. Thank you for always calling your grandparents regularly and doing your homework and holding the door open for people. Thank you for being kind and for trying your best. You have so much to give and you're going to grow into a person who can actually take your best intentions for a spin.
I love you so much.
Very respectfully yours,
Current Me (Future You)