I have a clear memory of being fourteen, sitting in a chair looking a sheet of math, and thinking that if I were to just disappear, no one would notice. Everything would be okay, everything would be better, and I wouldn’t have to worry anymore. This is a letter to my fourteen-year-old self.
A couple weeks ago you were sitting in a circle of people who you are lucky enough to call classmates and friends. You were singing songs and sharing personal stories that require vulnerability. You were crying, but it wasn't because you were sad. You were crying because you remembered that day four years ago when you were so done. Done with math, done with the people you were surrounded with, done with it all. You were crying because you knew that if you kept going down that path, you wouldn't be here now, sitting in this circle with these people telling these stories. You were crying because you wanted to tell yourself that it gets so good. So, to my fourteen year old self:
It isn't always going to be like this. You are going to have days where smiling is all you can possibly do. Days where you get an A- on a Biology final, write a really good poem, or do something new and kind of scary. Days like this:
And even days where your friends force you on a roller coaster and you make this face:
You're going to join drama and choir, yearbook and journalism. You're going to be part of musicals, and student leadership. You're going to go to New York where you'll climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty; England where you'll climb many stairs of St. Paul's Cathedral; Utah, where you'll stand above canyons and feel small in the best way; and Scotland, where you'll hike around Ben Nevis. You're going to write a lot of poetry and you'll start a blog where you tell the stories of memories you're going to make.
You're also going to twirl around a lot of places:
And hug a lot of people:
You're going to start over a lot, but everything will only get better each time. You're going to read books and find ones you like and ones you don't. You'll learn how to critique movies and pictures and how to stick up for yourself in a meeting. You'll even take a few Kung Fu classes, piano lessons, and you'll work as a proctor for a crane operator exam (your weirdest job to date!). You'll make some good speeches and gets some rounds of applause. You'll be enveloped in so many hugs you'll lose count, and you'll cry into the shoulders of so many people you'll never be able to thank them all.
And even though you'll be lonely sometimes, you're also going to make some really good friends. Like these ones:
You're going to do a lot of things that scare you, like auditioning for musicals and walking up to a group of people and asking if you can sit with them. But whenever you do something that's hard, or you fail, or you just need some help, you have a really great family that you can lean on. Your family will only grow, and that's a good thing.
Yeah, you're also going to encounter the bad stuff. You'll go through some heartbreaks, some worse than others. You'll move halfway through high school and get to know solitude a little too well. But when it gets bad, remember the stars, the canyons, the fireworks. Remember the places you've gone, the places you're going to go, and how loved you are. Remember warm nights with windows rolled down and music playing in the car, and remember nights where you're up until 2:00 in the morning talking to your best friend about what your future dorm room will look like. These are the moments that make it all worth it. All the heartbreak and moves and tears and rejections are worth it because every time something doesn't work out, something wonderful takes its place. Sometimes you'll feel small:
But sometimes you'll feel strong:
My point is that it gets good. Life gets really, really good. It's not perfect, but there are definitely perfect moments. You'll drink really good cups of coffee. You'll have really good days and really good nights. You'll go to basketball games and cut your hair and get your ears pierced. You'll eat really good food, like chocolate cake with raspberry filling and potato gnocchi. You'll learn lots of new things and grow into a new person that hopefully you'd be proud to know. So keep moving forward, I promise that it gets really good.