Dear Little Lindsey,
At your age, you’ve already been through a lot – parents divorcing, mom going to college, moving across the country three times – and yet, much to my relief, you’ve always kept your head high. Honestly I’m really proud of you for that. People always tell you you’re smart and you try to keep humble about it, and while your choice of friends is infinitely questionable, you keep yourself together nonetheless. You’ve also kept out of the infinitely stressful circle of dating, and for that I owe you practically everything. You and I both know things would have been a hundred times worse if you tried to keep up with any “real” relationship. Stick to your friends and homework and all that.
I’m gonna go ahead and say the exact thing you hear from every other adult: growing up is hard. I know that means absolutely nothing to you right now – after all, you’re just a kid and you don’t really want to worry about all that “growing up” business right now. Besides, you’ve got everything figured out; you’re “mature for your age” and planning on becoming an astronomer or geologist or librarian or something like that. Still, I hate to break it to you, but what you’ll probably end up doing is going to be really, really different from any of those. You’re gonna go to college and you’ll even take some astronomy classes, but science is not for you, kid. A librarian is a little closer to what you’ll be working towards, but honestly it’s not going to be what you think that entails. If I have any career advice for you, it’s to make sure you keep some connections and for God’s sake think about internships.
Right now you’re probably not worried so much about your relationships – and you really shouldn’t be anyway – but consider that not everything is perfect, no matter who your friends are. You might find that some of your closest friends are toxic, maybe not for years from now, but just accept that no one on this planet is worth giving up everything for. Even in your nearer future, the people you think you’ll never lose will eventually find others, or just change in general. Don’t be afraid if you’re lonely. You’ll find some wonderful people down the road. And again, at least you haven’t dated anyone. Just wait until college. Really, trust me on that one.
You’re going to have a lot of weird experiences when you’re older, especially once you’ve turned 18. Some of them are going to be wonderful, others not so much. My heart both flutters and hurts to remember what you will go through in that year alone. Always remember that things change over time. Ideas reshape themselves, pain fades away.
Oh, and don’t get me started on this upcoming presidential election. You won’t believe what happens after President Obama’s second term. Don’t forget to register to vote, alright? It’s important. Like, really important.
Anyway, I hope your homework isn’t bogging you down too much (I’m afraid it gets a lot worse). Here’s to the two of us, going forward in a blaze of whatever happens. Keep at it, little me.
Your Future Self
This short letter was inspired by the assignment prompt that asks you to write a letter to your younger self. For me, this was a little difficult, since I was a pretty straight-and-narrow kid. I never took too kindly to having adults try to tell me what I need to do in my life. Of course, the fun of this assignment is that it is purely hypothetical and everything I’ve said is something I already know. Little me won’t be able to roll her eyes upon reading this note.
Despite knowing myself pretty well, I had a bit of a hard time coming up with meaningful content to say. While imagining myself at around 13 or 14, I tried to find ways to express ideas in a manner that would get through to me. It took me some time to figure out what was most important to tell myself as well. Would I have cared about whether I got a job in college? Would I want to hear details about my future friends and relationships? How much should I tell me without “ruining it” for myself? Regardless of my thoughts and word choice, I think I would have still been wound up by my own vagueness. But I would understand later on. That’s what growing up is about, right?
After getting my topics sorted out, I had a lot of fun writing this letter. It was strangely calming, a pleasant exchange with a time in my life where I might have been uncomfortable with the very idea of knowing what happens after high school. Each phase of our lives comes with a new set of challenges which often make the trials we have previously faced feel trivial and minor, no matter their importance to us at the time. Revisiting our past struggles with the mentality of having never experienced anything worse helps us see our present as a matter of overcoming the current obstacles that we will later consider just as small and laughable. We grow each day we live, but we should never forget how we have lived each day.