I know it’s tough and confusing right now. You think your friends have all of the answers, and that their word is sacred. Everything makes you feel self-conscious and unattractive. You have a laser focus on proving to everyone that you’re worthy because you can get straight A’s. There is so much more to life than your grades. I know someone splashed your name across the bathroom wall. Algebra II is the hardest class you have ever taken, and that C is driving you mad.
The slightest failure feels like the end of the world, and you feel immensely worthless. I wish I could take that pain away. I wish I could force you to realize your life is so important. It won’t be worth giving your mother nightmares of your funeral or your sister crying and pleading with you. It won’t be worth hiding your self-inflicted lacerations.
I want you to know that each day is just that—one day out of thousands to come. This test will not be the end of the world. Those bullies simply will not matter in less than six months. I want you to put you first, starting today.
High school sucks, but you will survive it. Frankly, you will thrive despite it all. You’re going to make it to your dream school and have the most magnificent time. You’re going to make a ton of mistakes, and they will all be worth it. You’ll meet some of your very closest friends and make memories that you will genuinely never forget. It doesn’t hurt that you maintain that excellent memory.
You’re going to choose a career that is challenging, frustrating, and immensely rewarding. You will continue to meet people that will leave your life infinitely better for having known them. You will become truly hilarious. People will laugh with you and not at you.
While you’re ruminating over the answer to question number three on that unit test, know that in 10 years you will develop a love for travel that will bring so much color into your world. You will be an ocean away from those that called you ugly, that mocked you, that made you feel small. You’ll stand in an unfinished Spanish cathedral and weep at the sheer beauty of it all. As the light bounces across the stained glass and reaches incredible heights, you will be reminded that God is real.
In 20 years, you will endure a previously unknown loneliness. Along with the rest of the world, you will face a global quarantine. You, however, will endure three months of it completely by yourself.
It will be this experience that shows you exactly who you are. When you only have yourself and a neurotic dog to keep you company, you find out what you truly value and who values you.
You are taken aback by your own beauty and wonder how I could ever think otherwise. How could I shudder away from the camera when I’m forced to watch myself on Zoom eight hours a day? You will appreciate the slight curve of your own eyes, the full lips that people would literally pay for, and finally, finally, the shape of your own nose. You will value the broadness of it and the likeness to your father, your grandmother, and her mother.
You will have both positively amazing and wildly horrific dates with all types of men. Some will be so fine that you won’t believe your luck, others will be unable to eat with their mouths closed. A few will really hurt your feelings, and you’ll hurt some back. Dating is an adventure—try to have some fun with it. Don’t overthink it. (We will absolutely continue to overthink it.)
You and that currently annoying little cousin will be the best of friends. You’ll have death-defying excursions, see award-winning musicals, argue over who drives, and have inside jokes for everyone else to envy.
A series of shifting circumstances will both humble and restore you. At the end of it all, you will know that YOU are your own best thing. You are more than a resume, more than an SAT score, more than a grade, more than a cover letter.
You are a child of God, and you are worthy of every good thing. You deserve the love of your friends and family. You will no longer take their kindness as a favor but a true mark of love and friendship. When you feared you may have nothing at all, this group of people supported you through the best and worst of it.
You will find that you can restore your own energy. You will find that this day is just that—24 hours within a lifetime. There will be moments of greatness, tragedy, sadness, and joy. You will appreciate them all, because it’s your life. You can spend your time anxious and frustrated about making it perfect or enjoy the messiness of the lessons and the beauty of change.
There will come a day, when you will truly love yourself. You aren’t there yet, and that’s okay. When it comes, you will breathe like never before, and it will be the breath of new life.