Dear 16-year-old me:
I’m writing to you because I just read a few pages of your very dramatic journal and I’m here to remind you that you will get through everything.
In the entries I read, you were stressing out about your first “boyfriend”, a lot of friendship drama, the pressures of planning prom, and figuring out your plans for college, which are all valid things to freak out over at 16.
While the next few years after 16 are not a walk in the park, you can take a deep breath, because I can confirm, that most of the things you are currently crying over won’t matter to you in a year. But, I know you don’t believe me and will instead, continue to stress out and write very angry, existential journal entries and extremely melodramatic pieces of prose.
But while I am still full of mental breakdowns and constant mistakes, I’d like to offer you, 16-year-old me, three pieces of advice:
- You will change (and this is a good thing).
Change often feels like the end of the world, especially when it isn’t within your control. And at 16, I know that every little change feels so drastic. But, it also feels like that when you’re 17, 18, 19 and even more so when you’re in your 20’s.
I’ve realized that change always happens when you need it the most. It’s also the only thing in life that is guaranteed to happen. You will not be the same person forever and people shouldn’t expect you to be, either. Your appearance, your goals, your homes, and even your friends can and will change.
You’re going to fall in and out of love, with people, places, and things. You’re going to call multiple places home and decorate various bedrooms. You’re going to go through phases with your hair, over and over again. From “new city” blonde balayage to “post-breakup” bangs, change is something you just have to go through.
But I promise you, through it all you’ll be fine! Move with the changes and trust the things that happen to you. When life gets hard, take a deep breath and remember that everything always works out the way it should, though it will rarely be the way you planned it to be.
- Be better, not bitter
I don’t know whether 16-year-old you or 20-year-old me needs to hear this more, but no matter how tough life gets, you will always find a way to get through it. But I think the most important part, is to not allow any of your struggles or any of the things others have done to you, make you bitter.
Because girl, life seriously sucks sometimes, and that’s totally and completely out of your control.
You are clearly already aware of this, but you are going to have days or weeks (and sometimes even months) where you feel absolutely terrible.
Life is hard. People will be mean to you. Boys will break your heart (and vice versa). Your “friends” will throw shade behind your back. You’ll fail some tests. You’ll accidentally take the wrong train on the second day of your internship and show up 20 minutes late.
But the worst thing you can do is let these things affect you. While you can get hurt or upset, you can’t let it completely tear you down. If you shut people out or give up on your goals, just because you’re scared of failing again or because it’s “too hard”, you’ll miss out on so many opportunities.
Because spoiler alert, you have to go through the bad and ugly to get to the good. Life is a mixture of high’s and low’s. You’re going to absolutely hate this, but you don’t get your driver’s license until your third try! Your “first love” won’t be your last love. You’re going to struggle so hard your first year of college (to the point where you want to drop out), but become the president of your major’s honor society by your fourth year! You’ll get your heart broken and land an internship in the same week.
Realize that although you cannot always control what happens to you, you can control your reaction. Accept the things that happen to you, learn from them and work to do better. It’ll help you in the future, trust me <3
- Always, always, always put yourself first.
GIRL, PUT YOURSELF FIRST.
This applies to everything. Once you realize that you are the sole person responsible for your happiness, health and success, you’ll enjoy life so much more. Although it’s hard, you have to walk away from people, situations, and habits that are toxic, self-destructive, or make you question your self-worth. You’re only sabotaging yourself by wasting energy on what doesn’t grow you as a person.
The truth is, you’re stuck with yourself forever. So, you might as well make the most of it!
Above all, focus on achieving your goals and becoming the best version of yourself. Wear what you want to wear. Pursue your dream career, even if others question it. Eat whatever you want to eat. Do whatever the hell you want with your hair. Post what you want to post. Write about everything.
Curate a life that you love, and everything else will follow.
20-year-old Eliz ♡