I was flipping through a magazine the other day and found a contest that requires you to write a letter to your 16 year old self. I missed the deadline but decided to do the letter anyway. It was a good thing and I convinced a few friends to do the same; even a male co-worker! This is my letter to me.
Let me begin by telling you that there is no sense in telling you that you will achieve everything you hoped you would by 38. You don’t. Don’t be burdened by this. For the most part, it is a very good thing. You are so full of ideas, dreams and opinion. You are also full of doubt, fear and again, opinion. All of those things combined will make you a fairly decent person 22 years from now.
It’s taken me hours (days even) to decide what is important enough to tell you. Heck, they still might not be that important. But what I’ve come up with is what’s important to me right now. You will grow to learn so much from those around you. I know you have this idea that families are supposed to be as successful as the Cosby’s, as cheesy as Family Matters and as clever and funny as Good Times. You will soon learn that our family doesn’t exactly fit those molds. With time, you will recognize the values that came with our parents building a strong foundation for us. You will learn that the debates you had with Daddy trained you to be able to back up an argument; not with opinion, but with fact. He will teach you that the attitude you bring to others will always come back to you. Always. You will eventually consider Mama as a woman and not ‘just’ a mother. You will realize where she came from and what she sacrificed to give you a good life. Listen to her. She’s right about most everything.
Your friendship circle consists of people you’ve been going to school with for years. Mostly kids from the neighborhood. Don’t mistake being acquainted with being friends. You will come to realize some of them are not as they seem. But don’t blame them. They haven’t come into themselves just yet. Luckily, some great people will come into your life and leave the same way they came. Recognize the great in them, and claim it for yourself. And never forget that a quality friendship will far outweigh the quantity.
Right now, you still don’t know who the heck you are. You are shy and are nice to everyone and afraid to speak your mind when something is wrong. I know you get hot under the collar when someone says something off color or someone is being treated wrong. I also know you think you can’t do or say anything about it lest the attention is turned on you. Don’t be afraid. You have so much power. You have no idea! You have a way with words that your future teachers, professors and friends will compliment. Practice this skill but don’t ever forget you have to back those words up with fact, finesse and fearlessness.
Don't worry too much about how you look. Comparing yourself to others is a mistake. Love your body early. The more you love it, the more you will do for it and the better it will be to you. It will be with you forever so you may as well learn to love it. You are right to not follow the diet trends. They probably won’t work. Check out the pyramid if you must. Reduce your intake of artificial sweeteners and processed food. Just do it. And I know you have had many failed attempts at a workout program. The only thing that’s keeping you from success is your preoccupation with what people will think. You think they will make fun of you because you are not as fit as they are. Honestly, no one’s paying attention to you. One day when you are old enough to not care about what people think, you will be one of those jogging along the side of the road without a care in the world. You'll be the one in the aerobics class at the front not caring that you got the butt thing going on. You'll finally understand that when it comes to your body, it only matters what you think.
Don't worry that you haven't dated at this point. It will work out for you in the end. You will go through some duds in your life but you will learn from each one. In the end, you will be blessed with an amazing love and it will blow your whole ideal about being open with your emotions. Being ‘hard’ is just not as cool as you think. There is nothing wrong with dropping a tear or two. When you meet the person that shows you trust, love and support be open to them. Try not to be afraid and the reward will come that much faster. Oh and let me tell you that you are happily married and loving the hell out of it.
At 16, you haven’t had any real storms of life. It will be years before you do. There will be people in your life that will cause you a world of hurt. Let go of the grudges. You are not equipped to maintain them. It's just not in you to do so. The guilt and work to keep them hurts you much more than it hurts them. You will lose some precious loved ones and that will rock you to the core. You will feel pain that you think you will never get over. My advice to you would be to trust those who have proven time and time again that they love you. Let them help you. Share your feelings and the hurt will significantly lessen. This I can promise. With these storms you will call up everything you’ve learned about your faith in God. I know right now, church is a bore and leading a Christian life is just not fun but stay the course and you will soon learn what it really means to be who you are.
The following are just things that might make your life a little bit easier. I can’t see that it will keep you from becoming the person you are today. Convince the parents that you can handle classes and a job at the same time. Start saving now and it will help you feel more independent later. In the future when you establish your independence you will fight working in an office setting. Don’t bother. It will happen one way or another. Embrace it to get to where you really want to be. But don’t get too comfortable because some of them are surely miserable places to be. Keep your eye on the prize. Figure out how to live simply. Clutter is a bitch to get rid of; mentally and physically. Spontaneity is fine until you have real responsibility. Learn to set a plan of action to complete tasks and you will save time like never before.
That’s about it for the moment. I would hope that if you get nothing else out life, it would be that you realize you are worth everything good that comes to you. You are a good daughter, sister, friend, and wife. Notice I didn’t say mother. You are sort of one; just not in the way you think!
PS. Pay attention in Spanish class even though the teacher is a spaz. Oh! And for heaven’s sake learn French. One day someone will love you for it!