Photo by ian dooley

Dear 15-year-old me:

How I wish I could inject all of this information into you. That way you wouldn’t have to wait another 15 years to learn lessons that now seem obvious. Stop worrying about the future. It will catch up to you.

Don’t let your friendships at this age be your only focus. Yes, it is important that you have good people around you, but you spend way too much time worrying about who likes you and the gossip that’s being talked about. You get emotional at the drop of a hat, and you let too many people influence what you think of yourself. Take a stronger ground and don’t allow your heart to control everything that you feel.

This does not mean that you should be less emotional than you are naturally. This is a beautiful trait of yours, and one day this empathy will help you. But it does mean that you should stop breaking a little inside every time someone says something cruel. Children are mean, and so are adults, but at least adults hide it, and by the time you get to be 30 it won’t matter who is saying what.

You will go through many friends that you think are your life support, who turn out not to be. Just think of them as the strength you needed when they are by your side, and that not everyone is meant to stay in your life forever. Some people are just there for a moment. Savor that moment and then leave them in your memories. That is where they belong.

Stop worrying about finding true love. One day you will meet a man that you want to marry. Perhaps I’ll shock you. You will meet more than one, and you’ll love many of them.

Love is important to find, but it is not more important than knowing yourself and loving yourself. You struggle with doing that. Not because you don’t know who you are inside, but because you are scared to see what you are made of. You care way too much what other people think of you. That helps with nothing.

Marriage is not an end goal; it is part of the milestones that make up your life. Don’t let this be the target.

It will take you a long time to get comfortable with your body. You will never change the genes that you were given, and you will never look like the popular girls. Appearance will start to matter less and less as you begin to grow into who you are.

The boys that tease you today will not disappear from your life the way that you want them to. You can move and change schools, but there will be others. One day you’ll bump into them many years down the line. They have changed. For the most part.

Straighten your back, pull back your shoulders and walk standing tall. You don’t have to feel strange that you are taller than everyone else – some will catch up to you in height, some won’t, it doesn’t matter. There are so many people in this world to meet, stop looking down at the floor. Stop scrunching over to make yourself seem smaller.

Your scoliosis is an issue – stop listening to your mother who says its genetic and that there isn’t a cure. You need to go see a doctor and start working on it. It is better to do this while you are still young and nibble and your bones are still flexible enough to work with. Your body will start to feel age quicker than you think it will, and it will get harder and harder as you get older, and you will suffer from chronic pain if you don’t deal with it when you’re young.

Smoking isn’t cool. Drinking isn’t either. It will take you another 15 years to figure this out, but I wish it could successfully be done sooner. That first cigarette you steal from your mom’s pack will start you on an addiction that is disgusting, and you will have an impossible time quitting. Drinking will become your escape route, and you will lose yourself in trying to maintain the high you get when you are drunk. Where you feel like your true spirit is making an appearance, but in reality, this is you shrinking away.

It is not normal to have an aunt in jail /rehab / the hospital, but around the country, you are not the only one. In your secluded upper-middle class neighborhood, you stand out like a sore thumb, but you will later learn that just 10 miles away there are people that have it far worse.

Smile. You are young. You spend way too much time worrying.

Being different is good. Oh, how I wish you knew this better. The fact that you have a different background makes you stronger, not weaker. The fact that you don’t fit in is that extra charm that makes you stand out in a crowd. Your teachers will remind you of this, but you will ignore them.

Be free and let your spirit take you where you want to go. Spend more time going against the current.

Love yourself. You are stuck with you for the rest of your life. Learn to care for yourself. Learn to appreciate your mind, your words, and your body. Don’t be afraid to love yourself as much as you love everyone else. There is more than enough love to go around.