Dear Amanda (you giggly, think-you-know-it-all teenage girl),
Let me start off by saying I get it. I get how hard it is to be a teenage girl. And even though I’m 15 years your senior now, I remember how it feels to feel out of place. I remember how it feels to not know what the heck you want to be, what on Earth you’re supposed to be doing with yourself and how hard it is to put eye liner on.
And while you’re still not going to master eye liner for a good 10 years (in fact, your college bff is going to spend most of her time putting it on FOR you), you’ve got a whole lot of awesome coming your way. Really, you do. So stop worrying about everything so much.
I know it’s easy for me to say that now. At 30 years old things seem a lot different than they did when I was in high school. And while I’d like to tell you that you finally lost those pesky pounds you always thought you needed to shed and you’re rich and famous (OK, you never really wanted to be famous), that hasn’t really happened quite yet.
But it doesn’t matter to you quite as much anymore, because you’ve learned a lot. All that pressure you put on yourself to be perfect, well, it’s still there. It’s just now, you realize life isn’t quite about being perfect, about making others happy or losing 20 pounds. It’s about you, what you want to do with it and how happy you are with yourself. And those 20 pounds will fall off in college, but, you’ll have two babies and fluctuate a lot between pants sizes. The good news is you’ve stopped thinking of yourself as a project to be completed as quickly as possible, and you now realize you’re a work in progress, and that’s perfectly OK. In fact, that’s exactly what you should be.
So please stop obsessing over your love handles, they’re really not as big as you think they are. In fact, go out with your fabulous self and wear a bikini and smile. Toss the jeans aside in the summer and buy some high heels, because you have killer legs. (Don’t worry, you’ll figure the legs part out a lot sooner than you figure out that eye liner trick).
And right now, you’re really loving chemistry, biology and all that dorky science goodness. You’re actually going to take more science classes in high school than you’ll ever think possible, just because you enjoy experimenting and documenting. You’re pretty sure you’re going to major in this in college, and well, you still go into college wanting to, but something else is going to happen. You’re going to fall in love with one of your first passions all over again and guess what? You’re going to be an English major. (I know, the science geek you is totally throwing up in your mouth at the thought of being «just» a book nerd). But trust me when I tell you this is an awesome decision you make, and one of the first you make truly for yourself and not anyone else. So enjoy all the genetics and ionic bonds now, because you’re going to be falling asleep with Charles Dickens’ «Bleak House» on your face sooner than you know it. (Seriously, you still don’t like Charles Dickens, even now, but you do strike up quite a love affair with Leo Tolstoy).
I wish I could tell you all your best friends will still be your best friends in the next decade, but that’s just not the case. It doesn’t make them any less important, of course, you just learn sometimes not everyone is meant to stay in your life forever, and that’s OK. You’re going to make new friends later in life, new people who become your rocks, your right hands and your best friends. And you’re going to enjoy them for even longer. So go to Steak and Shake until midnight, sleepover at each other’s houses and giggle about boys; go to all those girly movies and ENJOY your high school BFFs.
Be kinder to your high school boyfriend. Seriously, be kinder. He’s just as clueless as you are about this whole teenage puppy love thing and it’s a lot easier if you can go through it together. You’re going to be each other’s first loves one day, so make sure you soak that up and leave each other with good memories (not over-jealous phone calls and lunch periods of the silent treatment). ENJOY him. But still don’t have sex, you can do plenty of that when you’re older.
Now here’s the hard part. You’re going to go to college one day and you’re going to get your heart broken. I’m talking the obliterated, smashed to what you think is beyond repair, never going to love again, broken. And I won’t lie. It’s going to suck, a lot. Like a super lot. But guess what? Even though you think you’re nothing but an assortment of broken pieces, you’re going to find someone who doesn’t put them all together for you, but loves them as they are, broken or whole. And that, teenage Amanda, is what true love is. (You’re going to marry this dude and have babies with him, so good choice there).
Even though you’re still a few years away from college, remember to soak up your time there. Your first few roommates may not work out too well, but once you meet the next one it’s all going to make sense. Appreciate her more. She’s the one who puts up with you sleeping in your underwear in awkward positions (don’t worry, she documents this constantly), she’ll push the beds together so you can lay in the same big bed and watch Sex and the City when aforementioned boy smashes your heart and you’re even going to get matching tattoos and countless piercings with her. So seriously, appreciate her more. And support her more. And do a better job of staying in touch with her. Because her family becomes part of your own when you’re in Cleveland.
I know you’re tired of softball. I know somedays you think you want to quit. You’re burnt out and you just can’t find that tenacity you use to have. (After 5 a.m. conditioning sessions in college you’re going to brainstorm with your best friend how both of you can get out of running, things like throwing yourselves down stairs and getting knocked up, don’t worry, you don’t go through with any of that). You’re going to regain your passion in college. You’re going to go on to do really awesome things with your softball team. So seriously, be extraordinary. Be a force. And enjoy your senior season a lot more. Because one day, you’re not the one on the mound anymore, and that’s a really hard feeling to get back.
Now, this one is important, so listen up. BE CONFIDENT. And don’t you sneer at me and tell me you’re already confident, because I’m you, the older you, so I know all about your wily ways. You’re pseudo-confidence you throw out there so the boys think you’re cool (wow a chick who doesn’t obsess about her weight!) and your softball opponents think you’re tough, well, it’s just that, PSEUDO. Quit putting a tough guy image out there and actually believe in yourself. Know that you’re beautiful (even in your most awkward stages), know that you’re a phenomenal athlete (even if you didn’t go to a division one college), know that you every bit as amazing as you pretend to be. KNOW it, don’t fake it. And for goodness sake, don’t be afraid to let the right people in. A little honesty goes a long way with the right ones.
You’re going to spend most of your teenage years wanting to be older and now that you’re older, I can tell you, there are some really awesome things about being an adult. But there are some even better things about being a teenager, so seriously, soak it all up.
And if I didn’t say it before, you’re going to be OK. Really, you are.
Your future, adult self.
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