Some time ago, I entertained the notion of writing a letter to one’s 16 year-old self. After posting the idea, it felt overwhelming to me. Every time I’d try to start it, I’d freeze up at the very beginning. A few months went by, and it bothered me that I’d abandoned my proposed ‘project’. It’s not supposed to be a toil, I thought – there’s no right or wrong way of doing it. Some write this letter as a suggestion to change or reroute certain life events – I choose not to do this, but instead to write it as a softened forecast of sorts. As raw as it may be, here it is.
I know you aren’t really concerned with anything but partying and having a good time right now. I’m going to ask, if I may, for just ten minutes of your undivided attention without you creating an argument as to why.
Your decision to hang with the ‘cool crowd’ will end up being your demise in school. You’ve traded in your good grades and standards of behavior for a poor attempt at coolness. I see how much you’ve changed from age fifteen to sixteen – so much so that it makes your own head spin to think about it. You hate thinking about it as well – so you reach for those funny cigarettes and a bit of alcohol here and there in order to push the ugly truth further from your head. What you don’t realize, my dear, is that these seemingly simple substances will evolve into a larger abuse more destructive than you’re able to maintain control of. Your downward spiral has only just begun.
Just around the corner, self-destruction awaits you. Over the next few years you’ll continue to feed this destruction, justifying it as ‘having a good time’. There are people in your life who struggle to make you realize what you’re doing to yourself. Your mother, your father, your ever-wise grandmother. Why won’t you ever give them a chance, just open up your mind for once and listen? Newsflash – they really do know what they’re talking about. Years later, your eyes will well up as you wish for this time to be rolled backwards in order to make different choices. Better choices. Trust me on this – though right now, I know you won’t. In later years, you’ll be happy to know that you were one of the ‘lucky ones’ instead of another statistic. I want you to realize how very fortunate you will be to not become a statistic.
Getting pregnant at nineteen years old will not be the end of your world, although you and a few others think so at the time. You will have a little girl who will, in fact, end up being the shining sun of your universe. Do take a little more time and make the memories count… this will be the only child in life that God will entrust in your care. Slow down, savor every minute, every second. Laugh more… a LOT more. Know that your daughter will be successful in life, and will make you and her father extremely proud.
Your daughter’s father. The man you’ve known for a year prior will become your husband just a mere week after you find out you are with child. True, your childhood fairytale dream of getting married and having babies will happen quite backwards. Just like the absence of a real wedding or even a real proposal – you will find many things around this era to be very different than what you dreamed of as a young girl. Do know that you and your husband will have a very loving life together and create many wonderful memories as a family – as well as share hardships. Always remember that life is a constant change of events. In just a few short years, you will actually go to college to learn a new trade in graphic arts, and your employer will fund this tuition. So hold tight and make do with those hardships – it’ll all be worth it.
Oh, if only I could forewarn and perhaps prepare you for the largest and most difficult event in your life so far. Many years down the road, you will find yourself starting completely over from scratch. You will need to learn to live alone, to survive alone, and support yourself – for the very first time in your adult life. You will learn what heartache and heartbreak really is. You must learn this all yourself, as no amount of prep work or advice will guide you through it. If there is one thing I may ask of you for the future, it would be this… remember your own self-worth. Don’t consider your own happiness an extravagance. It’s not.
Your future lies completely in your hands, and in the decisions you make. Learn quickly that your decisions really do impact your future, of who you ultimately become. And guess what? We’re not finished growing yet.