It’s one of those nights where I’m spending hours looking through my tagged photos on Facebook from high school instead of sleeping. It’s crazy to really look back and see how much has changed since then. Looking back through all of those pictures made me realize how much I wished I could go back and tell myself all of the things that I needed to hear at the time. If I had the chance, here’s what I would say.
The first thing that I would say is: hold on to these girls. Times will be tough and you will grow apart, but do not let them go. Time and time again they will prove to be the people who know you best. At the end of the day, they are the ones who are still going to know you better than anyone else even when you’re in college and you’ve barely been in contact for the past 2 years. They are the definition of what best friends should be. Love them with all of your heart and always always always appreciate them. They’ve stuck by you for everything. Don’t forget that.
The second thing that I would tell my high school self is don’t lose sight of what’s really important. When I was young, I took my family for granted constantly. I thought that they would always be there and that at that time, spending time with my friends was more important because I suffered from serious FOMO. But I should have been worried more about my family. Fast forward 5 years later and my dad has passed away. Most of my relationships are strained, distant, or just not the same.
Next, I would write her an entire novel about relationship advice. I came across this photo tonight on Facebook of me and my first serious boyfriend. I haven’t talked to him in at least 3-4 years and only hear about bits and pieces of his current life every now and then through mutual friends. Thinking back, I was truly happy with him for the first year or so of our relationship. Looking at the picture of us below, I think that that is pretty evident. He made me happy and he was the first guy that I ever had strong feelings for. But if I could go back now, I would tell myself to just enjoy my time with him. To not take our relationship to seriously and to let go of my insecurities. I would tell myself that no one is perfect and that I shouldn’t spend my time picking at him for things that he should fix. Rather, I would focus more on what I needed to work on. He did the best he could for me. And instead of asking for more, I should have appreciated it. Because relationships aren’t about grand gestures and everyone else thinking you’re “goals.” They’re about the feeling that you get when you get to see them after a long day at work. They’re about how nice it feels to spend days doing nothing with them and enjoying little things like taking drives in the summer with the windows rolled down. If I could talk to myself right after we broke up, I would tell myself to just let go. I am young. I have so much more life ahead of me and though it may feel like the end of the world now, I have so much more to learn before I can fully love someone. He was everything that I thought that I needed at the time, but he was not “it.” And neither were any of the other guys who I would fall for in the next 5 years. If one ends, don’t let it end you. There will always be other guys and that’s that. One day you will look at someone the way you’re looking at your ex boyfriend from high school in this picture, but it won’t be at your locker in between 3rd and 4th period. It will be every morning when you wake up next to him and your heart will be full and your worries will fade as you trace his lips with your fingertips. And I’m not talking about a husband, you might have 3 or 4 of these kinds guys in your life. Men come and go and so do your feelings for them. But don’t let it rule you.
Another thing that I would say to my high school self is to just enjoy the moment that you are living in. As awful and as pessimistic as it sounds, no matter how bad it seems, it will get so much worse. You’ll be 22 in college: completely on your own, living from paycheck to paycheck, you’ll lose family members that you thought you couldn’t live without, people will change in ways that you didn’t think possible, you’ll hate yourself at multiple points, and you’ll grow apart from life long friends. The high school drama and the fact that your mom won’t buy you the prom dress that you want will become laughable compared to the other dilemmas that you will face. But right now, you’re young and it’s okay to be carefree and make dumb mistakes. So do it as much as you possibly can while you still can.
One last thing that I would tell my high school self is that you are a beautiful and intelligent young woman. You have so much more potential to grow and you will become stronger than you even think is possible. Don’t worry about what other people think. And for the last time, YOU ARE NOT FAT. You have a beautiful body and you will look back 5 years from now and laugh at how stupid you were to think that you looked so bad. I’d also tell myself to be easier on my mom, because she has it harder than I think. And not just to be easier on her, but to be easier on everyone who messes up. I’m not perfect, so don’t expect others to be. Just slow down and take a deep breath. Stop worrying about things that don’t matter and about things that you cannot change. Don’t take things for granted, but also don’t take them too seriously. Live in the moment, but if it’s not going how you want it to, remember that it won’t be this way forever. Enjoy the people and the places that make up your life today, because they might not be there or the same tomorrow. It’s okay to mess up so long as you learn from your mistakes. This is your life, so do what you want when you want. And always always always enjoy the little moments, because they are the ones that you will cherish most.