When I was 16 I was seeing this therapist, and she made me do this exercise one time where she told me to close my eyes and then envision myself as a little girl. I felt stupid, but I closed my eyes and did as she said. Then she asked me to talk to that little girl and let her know that everything would be okay. Now I was feeling really stupid, but I did it and envisioned myself at age 1 all the way through 16 saying "it's going to be okay." And when I was finished, I cried. I can't even remember now what I was seeing a therapist for exactly (emotional teenager), but I'll never forget that session. Whenever things seem hard, or when life isn't perfect or I don't know what to do, I think about my future self looking back and telling my current self not to worry, that everything's going to be okay. And it helps me to remember that life goes on. Hard situations eventually pass and even though life will probably never be perfect, it's always going to be okay.
I think that life seems hard no matter what stage we're in. And even if time passes and we're always okay in the end, I'm the kind of person who carries around a lot of regret all the time. I hate that I'm like that, but I am. As much as I wish I could go back and tell myself to relax because life will be okay, I also wish I could go back and give myself some other advice too. The "don't be stupid" kind of advice. Maybe a combination of something like, "life's going to be okay, but try not to f*** it up too badly."
I watched this video last week "How to Age Gracefully" featuring life-affirming advice given by 7-93 year olds. And it made me think of that time with the therapist. It's worth 4 minutes if you have it.
Dear 16 year old,
Don't cry over boys. None of them will matter. The one who ditches you for a better homecoming date last minute probably ends up fat and alone. (not that I know..) Also, go ahead and wear crop tops now because next time they come around you will be old.
Dear 17 year old,
Start thinking about your life after high school, it's going to happen quicker than you think. It's hard to wrap your head around right now, but there's actually more to life than deciding what you're going to wear to that party tonight.
Wake up and go to your classes. School is actually fun. And while you're there, do all the things you think you're too afraid to do. Try out for the school play and don't worry about what your friends might think. Being cool is overrated.
Dear 19 year old,
Start getting to know yourself now and stop idolizing the wrong people. Paris Hilton isn't real. But you are pretty great. Also, tattoos are actually permanent. It's not a myth. Think about that one.
Dear 20 year old,
It's okay to drop out of college if it isn't working out, but make another plan. It isn't a "break" if it lasts forever. You're smarter than you think, do something.
Dear 21 year old,
Drinking is not that cool. Get a hobby.
Dear 22 year old,
Breaking up with a best friend is hard. So hard. But years from now she will be in the same place, and you'll think about how that could've been you. You're doing the right thing.
Dear 23 year old,
If you're unhappy and bored in a relationship, get out. Don't even think twice about it because trust me, it gets way better than this.
Dear 24 year old,
Kareoke is always a bad idea. So is tequila.
Even if you feel "stuck" in a certain place, in a certain job, try to enjoy it anyways. Every phase of life goes by so quickly, and you'll wish you tried a little harder instead of complained. Stop eating lunch by yourself. Make friends with your co-workers, they're actually very nice.
Dear 26 year old,
No one has it together. And if they do, they're probably lying. Have fun. You're only 26. You're not supposed to have it all figured out yet. Continue to get to know yourself. Trust yourself. Be honest. Tell the truth. Stop making excuses. Be different. It's cliche, but seriously - just be yourself, everybody else is already taken. It's okay.