To the high school freshman I saw waiting in line at one of the mall’s many milktea places,
(Disclaimer for a truckload of clichés. Forgive me, but repetition breeds remembrance and we all need reminding sometimes.)
Ditch those tacky knock-off Chuck Taylors and make your parents invest in a decent pair of originals or maybe Vans. Get them wet, get them dirty, have your friends write on them. The people you meet in high school will be the ones to keep you grounded and support you despite anything and everything, believe me. Wear them like your second skin. They will treat you well and will help you run through a whole lot of shit that high school may or may not throw your way. Heels may make you taller, but they can be a bitch when you’re trying to run away from your problems. Learn to walk in them - this skill will pay off. But regardless, find someone who loves you fresh-faced, in a t-shirt and flipflops.
I tell you now, you’re beautiful with your hair down; short or long, black, brown or violent red, so quit playing with it, trying to find split ends where there are none. Try not to wear make-up at least until you graduate and don’t get pulled into the media circus. Remember that perfection is an illusion. You don’t need to diet or work out. Your body is still growing. Don’t worry about filling in around the chest (there are bras for that) or about your hips coming in, or about you not being the same shape as the women in the magazines. Learn to love your body now, before it’s too late.
Your grades do not define you, but work hard and get into a good college. Make the right choices while you’re young because, not to scare or pressure you or anything, going to the right university will affect the rest of your life.
Stay close to your parents. Tell your father you love him, and never stop talking to your mother. Above all, they will have your back. They don’t nag you because they enjoy it. If you want them to stop, discipline yourself. They’re trying to teach you things they think you need to know. Stop whining about your siblings because they will inevitably be the ones who will keep your secrets and beat up the boys who will break your heart. They aren’t your enemies. Extend your family to include your friends. These girls will be your sisters, despite distance or time.
What may seem like a mistake now is character building. Learn to live without regrets. Experience as much as you can, and try not to be afraid. Try new things. All the time. The next few years and this lifetime in general will be a fantastic adventure. Be patient. Whatever you’re worrying about now won’t matter in two weeks. Stop being so angry because the world isn’t against you. If anything, it’s working for you. If you let it.
If someone doesn’t like you, be okay with it. You’ll learn eventually that you can’t please everybody, but be nice to everyone. Kindness, though difficult, is underrated. Be friends with the girls and boys who make you laugh and stay away from the ones who only care about what you own, what you wear or who you know. The best accessory will always be a smile. Make sure it’s genuine. Dress only to impress yourself and in what you’re comfortable in rather than what media will dictate to you. You can buy fashion, but never style. The things you own do not define you.
Invest your time online and off in art, literature and music. Learn a random fact a day. Fall in love with the written word. Don’t worry about boys and please, for the love of God, don’t run after them. They will come and go. What matters now is that you work on yourself. That you learn to be happy alone. With or without a boyfriend, you are fucking beautiful and never let anyone make you feel otherwise.
There will be good times and there will be bad times, so be strong and never lose sense of who you are. Take care of people and they will take care of you in return, though it may not always seem like it. Forgive, never forget, and learn to laugh about it. Don’t take things too hard or seriously. The best therapy is good company, or a good book and a cup of tea. Take a few moments every day to center yourself. Learn these things and learn them well. There will be other lessons, but you’ll find out on your own.
These are all the things I wish someone had taken the time to tell/remind me when I was your age, and frankly, maybe the only reason I’m writing this is because I myself needed to remember.
You’re never too old for a hug from your parents, or a dirty ice cream cone on a hot day. Its the little things, the simpler things, that will matter in the end. Complications may seem exciting at times, but they tend to get really old really fast. Try not to let this happen to you.
I wish you all the luck in the world, and rest assured that you are loved. Somebody cares.
Live well, and take a million pictures!