Writing Prompt #11: Write a letter to your sixteen-year-old self.
Dear Sixteen-year-old Liz,
I know what you’re thinking. You’re a junior in high school and it’s the end of the world . . . but don’t fret. There are greener pastures once you cross that stage in the field house, and once you cross that stage again in the Middle of Nowhere, Illinois. And who are you thinking you don’t want to go to college?! Listen to Mom. Go to college.
Right now, you’re at that point in your life between breaking up with Aidan* and giving Jackson* the cold shoulder at the homecoming dance. After he picked you up and wanted to take you to dinner, you acted like a snobby little girl and that’s not fair to him. He was a nice boy and, most importantly, he was one of your good friends. Sure, Jackson was a little awkward, but he really liked you, and aren’t we all a little awkward at sixteen? Yes, even the most popular boy in your grade (if I remember correctly, Kaleb*) has his awkward moments (*cough, cough* senior year), but that doesn’t mean you should be rude. Remember your past experiences. Did you like it when you were an outcast, when you were “not good enough?” Put others’ feelings into consideration, too. Believe me, it’ll take you a while to master that, but once you do, you will be enlightened by so much more this beautiful world has to offer you.
So, you gave Jackson the cold shoulder and now you’re sad that he’s walking around the halls holding Sophia’s* hand, a freshman nonetheless? You did this to yourself, sweetheart. You get jealous too easily and you make decisions too rashly based on your broken ego. Toughen up, buttercup. You’ll hear that now and you’ll hear it again your senior year from a very angry choreographer. Toughen up, buttercup. If you wanted to be with Jackson, then why did you ignore him? You did the same thing with Aidan, too. Communication is key to any lasting relationship and you’ll learn this in your twenties. I know, when you’re an “old lady.”
No, you won’t be married by twenty, and you’ll realize, by then, that you don’t want to be married so young. You want to wait. You want to travel the world. You want to write about your experiences. No, you won’t become the trendiest fashion designer or the leading heart surgeon or whatever you dream of being since you can’t make up your mind! And that’s okay. Take your time on deciding what you really want to do. You can do it all, if you want! You’re stronger than you think. You’ll be growing each day, in life, in love, in prosperity, and in wealth. You’ll do just fine.
As for the men, yes there will be more misses than hits, but that’s life. Take each relationship gratefully and gracefully; learn from it. I don’t know if I can say this now, but you’ll find the one, out of the blue really. I think I’ve found him (I don’t want to jinx anything), so don’t throw that midnight pity party with the Kleenex box and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for yourself after going to prom stag. You’re so young with so many experiences waiting for you. Embrace it. You don’t need to settle down completely just yet.
All in all, Sixteen-year-old Liz, you have nothing to worry about. I know, we Szalay women worry more than we should, but take a breather. Relax, sit back, and enjoy the rest of your life while you still can. Everything that is meant to be, whether it’s a blessing or a lesson, will fall into place. I promise, life gets better after high school, but enjoy the memories you make and have.
* Names changed to preserve identities.
© 2014 Elizabeth Szalay. All rights reserved.