Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Dear Self... circa 1993
Dear 16 Year Old Self,
Above all this, remember - you're pretty great. You're talented and smart and kind and funny, don't ever let anybody take away your sparkle. Don't ever lose your instinct to treat everybody with kindness and respect; don't ever lose your positive attitude. Don't care so much what other people think, unless you are worried that you've done something hurtful, and then you should apologize, learn from it, and move on. Keep playing the piano and the flute; singing and dancing. Keep enjoying your throne in the palace of nerd-dom, the marching band. Keep surrounding yourself with those awesome friends, because when you are 34, you'll be amazed that most of them are STILL your best buddies. Don't forget to stop and smell the roses, and don't forget to take care yourself while you're busy taking care of others. Never forget to be grateful for everything you have been given, just by the random luck of being born into such an amazing family.
Now for the tough love.
Self, you're a little bit lazy sometimes.
Not only physically, but academically. This trait will not serve you well over the years. Unfortunately, even if you don't LIKE something, sometimes you still have to do it. This is true not only throughout academia, but in the social world and also the professional world. We don't always get to choose everything -- sometimes things choose us, and a positive attitude and adaptability are always going to set you apart from the pack. As for the physical laziness -- unfortunately, a healthy and balanced life does NOT mean a life filled only with academic and artistic pursuits -- learn to run. Or at least walk a lot. Make physical exercise a part of your life -- over the years, it will help you with stress, weight, etc... all things you're gonna struggle with.
And listen to your dad -- you SHOULD join the swim team.
Also, Self -- you can ease up a little bit on yourself. Nobody expects you to be perfect. You don't have to be so high strung. You don't have to be so negative about your imperfections. You're not ever going to be a size 2 -- or even a size 8. You just weren't built that way. Stop letting people tell you who and what you're supposed to be, and how you're supposed to look -- you are YOU. And there isn't anything wrong with that. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes - stop letting other people compare you to your size 0 best friend and telling you that your thighs are too big. None of this matters. You are growing up in a city where it seems that everybody is perfect, everybody fits into a skinny tiny perfect mold -- this is not the way the rest of the world is. It won't be until you are are in your mid-20s that "curvy becomes the new skinny" and celebrities like JLo and Beyonce become the standard of beauty -- but trust me, it will happen, and it will happen riiiiiiiiiiight about the same time that you wake up and think "I think I'd like to lose some weight, not necessarily for vanity purposes, but for HEALTH."
That means you are ready.
In your 20s, you'll embark on some pretty amazing adventures -- mostly good, but a few bad. Your career is gonna be pretty awesome -- but don't forget to balance that with self-care and relaxation. You'll meet a lot of amazing people, and a few icky ones -- silver lining? You'll LEARN the most from the icky ones. Hard lessons, but important ones. By 30, you'll have figured out a lot of things that it takes many people decades longer to learn -- that your heart can't actually break, that you're stronger and braver than most people give you credit for. You're going to cap it all off my running a marathon -- something you NEVER thought was possible.
Nobody can ever take that away from you.
(Even though that f'ing marathon is going to be on the hottest day of the year -- you're still going to cross that finish line, too stubborn and determined to quit).
Most importantly -- never EVER stop listening to your instincts and trusting your gut.
It is usually spot on.
Never stop laughing and making other people laugh -- remember that teacher who told you to be a stand up comedian? THAT probably isn't going to happen, but the world becomes a much easier and happier place when filled with the chimes and gasps of teary breathless laughter -- do your part to keep that going.
Keep on living a life filled with love and laughter and compassion, and good things will happen.
And I promise that no matter HOW bad things might seem over the next, oh, 18 years, it all works out in the end.
*technically this is my 17 year old self as it was taken the summer before my senior year, but close enough!