Welcome to the Notes to My Teenage Self linkup. After you’re done reading my letter, feel free to add yours or check out some of the other ones.
Dear teenage Jana,
I know. It’s pretty strange that you’re receiving this now, given the fact that I’m all old and you’re hanging out in 1994 at the ripe old age of 17. But I figure you’re getting ready to start your senior year of high school and it might be a good time to impart some wisdom on you to help get you through your final year in what is pretty much a flannel filled hell. I know you can’t wait to get out of those walls and start your new life but for a moment, I want you to sit back and appreciate what you currently have.
For starters, you live rent and expense free. You pay for nothing except CDs, concert tickets, books, and nail polish (incidentally, your spending habits don’t change much in your 20s. Or 30s). Enjoy the lack of financial responsibility and stress but, while you’re at it, learn how to manage money. It’s a lot easier to learn when your feet aren’t to the fire and also, it’ll prevent you from getting into debt as an adult. Trust when I say that getting into debt is fun but getting out is worse than first period math.
Second, spend time with your sisters. Especially the little one. Sure, you guys are making some memories but you’ll be moving out soon and she’s only 7. You’ll miss more than you’ll want to admit and you’re going to want more than Friday nights watching Boy Meets World and driving her to piano lessons to cling to (oh, and convincing her a monster lives in the hole you kicked in the wall and making her scared to go up the stairs? It’s funny but don’t do that. It’s kind of mean).
Third, all the stuff you’re worried about? Like finding friends you can trust or having a boyfriend or not fitting in or thinking you’re fat and ugly or feeling like the rest of your life will be exactly like it is now? I get that you’re concerned but believe me, you’re worrying for nothing. Let it go. In just a few short months, you’ll find some of the most amazing friends ever (and you’ll still be friends with some of them, all these years later) and you’ll realize that they like and appreciate you for YOU, not someone you think you need to pretend to be. Boyfriends? Don’t worry about that shit. That’ll happen (including, in 2 short years, meeting the person you’ll marry), too.
And as far as your appearance, learn to enjoy exercising and eating healthy now, make it part of your routine, and you’ll feel so much better. Because feeling good and attractive really starts with liking who you are in the mirror and no one but you is in control of that. And by taking charge of it now, it’ll make it much easier on the old lady version of you. So if you could do that, I’d appreciate it.
Now, let’s move on to the life advice.
- You are talented and creative. Use that to your advantage and when you get to college, pick a major that will make you happy. Keep some practicality and ability to get a job in mind but if you choose to pursue something you love, you will be successful.
- Believe in yourself. You are smart and you truly can do anything. Never let anyone, family, friends, or other, make you doubt that. If they’re making you feel bad, they’re not worth your time. Don’t let their negativity sink in. Deflect that shit like you’re wearing Teflon.
- You know how you try hard to be nice to everyone? Keep doing that. Even if it backfires and you still wind up at home alone on a Friday or Saturday night, just keep being nice. You’ll love yourself for it and learning to love yourself, and having to live with yourself, is more important than any date or party. And for the record, assholes are everywhere, in every phase of life. It sucks but you’ll eventually learn how to sniff them out and avoid them.
- Do your homework. Read. Learn. Work hard. Go to class (except gym. Go ahead and feel free to skip that, which I know contradicts my earlier advice about being healthy but gym is pretty much the worst). Never be ashamed or embarrassed about being smart. Smart girls are awesome and although the names Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling mean nothing to you right now, you’ll understand when you’re me (and this piece of advice will make total sense).
I apologize that instead of a few short notes, you’re getting a fairly long letter. But you’ll come to realize that you are a verbose gal and once you get started, it’s hard to stop (also, you use words like “gal”). It’s one of your charming quirks.
My point is this–who you are is just fine. There is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, wrong with you. I know it doesn’t feel like it now because high school is one long fucking nightmare filled with people who seem to have it all together. But believe me, they don’t. They are just as confused and awkward and full of self-doubt as you are. They’re just better at hiding it.
So love yourself, be confident in who you are, and remember that it’s almost over. Enjoy the good moments (and there will be more than you think) and don’t let the bad ones define you.
See you in 20 years.
Go Blue Hens!
37 year old Jana