11.13.2009

Spin Cycle Free Spin: If I knew then what I know now....(a letter to me, age 17)

Dear Andrea -

Hey you. It's your future self here.

I don't mean to spoil any surprises for you, but seriously, it's for the best. Maybe I can save you some heartache along the way. Maybe I can make a difference in both of our lives, if we're really alive at the same time in some strange parallel universe. Maybe I can change the story.

First order of business? Next year at college you're going to meet someone. You're going to fall incredibly hard for him. He is going to be crazy about you, and sweet, and sort of nerdy. He's going to have strong arms and perfect eyes and the way he kisses you will make you lightheaded and you'll think your legs are about to give out. You know how the movies talk about *fireworks*? They didn't lie. Anyway, I know you've decided you are going to save yourself for your future husband. DON'T. You aren't getting married in the next ten years anyway, and looking back, you'll realize that you should've just slept with him and at least had your first time mean something, instead of waking up after a night of heavy drinking on an air mattress after losing it to some guy you just met. (FYI - This might still happen. In that case, there IS a house alarm, and sneaking off at 6.30am? Won't work.)

Back to the first guy. He's going to break your heart. Repeatedly. Over and over and over again. At least six or seven times. The first time was understandable. And everyone deserves a second chance. But really? After that? It's okay to give up. He really wasn't the ONE. You'll finally figure that out at 26 when you see him for the first time in four years and wonder why you were so into him, and why you wasted so many years doing the back-and-forth you two were so good at. Don't be afraid to let him break your heart, but don't make the same mistake I did, and let him break YOU.

Alright, let's move on...

I know right now you're getting excited for your first year of college. You've got a plan, you've got goals, and that's great. Keep your focus! Don't screw around like I did, unless you want to be 27 and still working on your degree. Yes, I messed up. A lot. But the life lesson here? You can ALWAYS redeem yourself. I'm working on it now, but you? You still have a chance to get it right the first time. Take advantage of it.

Next thing. I know you think you're a hideous cow. Really? In a few years you are going to look back at your senior pictures and pray for that body back. I know, you think I'm crazy, but it's the truth. Of course, by the time you hit my age, you'll have settled in where you are and you'll be fairly confident no matter what (which, by the way, will serve you well where men are concerned), but for a while there, you will absolutely HATE the way you look. More than you can even imagine right now. So don't stress out, and enjoy being young and healthy and cute while you can. Own who you are. Your little imperfections make you unique.

Start saving money now. I don't mean what Dad makes you put in your IRA, I mean seriously put away some cash. You're always going to need it, and Mom and Dad won't always be able to help you out. You'll be much better off than I am if you can manage that.

Go visit the grandparents. As much as possible. I know they seem immortal now, but they don't have much time left, and after they're gone, you're going to wish you had listened harder and told them you loved them more. When Grandma K dies, you are going to be an absolute wreck. Let it happen. It'll pass, I promise. You're going to have amazing friends to pull you through.

Don't let it get you down when family members, friends, and complete strangers feel pity for you if you're still single at 20, 25, 30, 45...what's right for someone else may not be right for you. Enjoy being single, enjoy being independent, and do anything you could possibly want to do. If you want to move across the country (and you'll want to, trust me!), do it! This is the time in your life to not be tied down to anything.

You're going to make some mistakes when it comes to men. Everyone does. But don't ever let yourself lose who you are because of a man. And don't ever let a man (or anyone else, for that matter) make you feel like less than what you are. Some mornings you might look in the mirror and not recognize who you've become. You will, just look closer. She's there. That innocent, naive girl who still somehow believes in true love and soulmates and happy endings? She's there. She's just smarter, and less willing to give her heart away until someone has earned it.

You can't change other people, just yourself. And you shouldn't try to change yourself for someone else. If they can't love you the way you are, then you shouldn't waste your time.

Mom and Dad will love you even if you don't do everything the way they think you should. Don't be afraid to disappoint them because while they may give you shit, they'll stand by you when no one else will or can. I know right now you think they're ruining your life half the time, but they really are great parents, and you're a lot luckier than most.

Tell the people you care about that you love them. Every time you can. You never know when they'll be gone. You're going to lose a lot of people in the next decade, some who you never would have expected. You are going to drive around at night crying, wondering why someone was taken from you so soon. You're going to scream and throw things and spend days in bed because you don't want to live in a world where bad things happen. But then you'll start to realize that he wouldn't have wanted you to waste your days like that, and you'll start to move on, and start to feel better. And you'll start to live.

No matter how well you plan out the next ten years of your life, it will change. You can't avoid that. Don't let yourself get set on certain things you *have* to accomplish. If you do, and those things don't pan out, you could spend the next ten years trying to scrape together the rest of your life. Go with the flow, and take time to enjoy the setbacks and detours, because those can be the most beautiful parts of life.

Maybe this won't make a bit of difference. Maybe my life now is how it was meant to be. Maybe no matter what you do in the next ten years, we'll be right here, at this same place, writing this same letter.

I don't want to discourage you. I just want us to have a chance at something different. Something better.

But if this doesn't work? If this is what life is? Well, you can look forward to being strong. Stronger than you thought you could be. You'll be independent, and fearless. You'll have learned from (most of) the mistakes in your past, and have grown up and be smarter for it. You'll have a drive to succeed and a never-say-die attitude. You'll have the best friends and family in the world, and you'll be happy. Sure, you have your issues, but overall? You know who you are and you're loving it. And that's the big life lesson here, teenage Andrea: Your life will be as good as your attitude allows. Enjoy it.

Love,
Future Andrea

(By the way, your boobs finally grew. And didn't stop. And now it hurts to run. And walk down stairs. So, thanks for wishing for those every day since you were twelve. Bitch.)

small cycle

7 comments:

Jess said...

LOL that last part cracked me up! I am so with you on that one! I thought they were done at 18...and then around 21 or so BA-BOOM! Where did these fuckers come from!??!

Good letter to self...I look forward to another letter 10 years from now! Imagine what you will know then!!!

kendrasue said...

I love it. Especially the boobs part...I understand completely! And I like the idea. Kind of makes me want to do one myself!

Sprite's Keeper said...

I was sympathizing and thinking of something eloquent to say, but then you called yourself a bitch. Bwahaha!!
Stunning ender!
You're linked!

D.M. Wright said...

What a great letter!!! And a great idea.

gathering dust said...

Thanks lovies! And glad I can entertain :-)

Mary (MPJ) said...

I popped over here after reading Velvet Verbosity's interview of you, and I just wanted to say I love this letter. I did one to (I think) my 13 year old self on my blog a while back and have seen a few others, and it's always so telling and poignant what we want our former selves to know...

Rachel said...

I love this. I'm going to write to myself at 16 as soon as I get done doing homework!

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