I read a post today about a person who wrote a letter to themselves at age 16. I must say, I found the idea inspiring, but when I read the letter I was pretty disappointed. She told herself not to worry about her silly hair. There was more, but it clearly never made an impact because all I remember her talking about was getting used to having curly hair.
Honestly, if you could write a letter to your 16-year-old self, what would it say? Would it talk about benign things, like getting used to your curly hair? Or would you try and tell yourself important things? Would you warn yourself? Would you replace any of your experiences, good or bad, by spoiling them to help yourself in the future?
What would I say about sex? Drinking? Those had more of an impact on me than hating my hair at 16. Maybe I could avoid fucking my first boyfriend, who was a fucking asshole. He manipulated me, took advantage of me, and in the end he hit me. It was only once, and it was the only chance I gave him. How do I know how that shaped me for future relationships though? Maybe if I never dated him, my entire life would be different? I was 17 when I lost my virginity to him. In retrospect I was too young. I should have had more fun. What a dick.
Maybe I would say, ‘take it easy on yourself, you’ll find your love.’ And with that certainty maybe I wouldn’t have drunken myself into so many blackouts, my soul lonely for companionship, desperate to find someone who would love and hold me. Desperate for a love I thought would never come.
I would get drunk and cry. Or run away. I would run and hide and hear people calling out my name and wishing they would just have the sense to leave me the hell alone. No one understood me, how sensitive I was, how vulnerable to love I was. I tried to force it through sex and it obviously didn’t work. I wanted to drunk-fuck my way to love. And the assholes always let me.
Would I have had children so young? Would I have had children at all? Maybe if I had traveled more, I never would have met my husband, nor married him. The prospect of never having my kids makes me tremble. If I knew I could do it all differently, would I be selfish? Should I tell myself not to do it?
What about friends? Would I let myself keep the same company? Would I make more of an effort to make and keep better friends?
Maybe if I wrote my 16-year-old self I would never have this life that I’m living right now. Maybe I’d never have to resent keeping a clean house (a chore I find most tedious). Maybe I would have gone to school and learned more. Maybe my sister and I would be roommates. Maybe we would never have been able to become as close as we have, if I had made different choices; one different choice.
If you change one thing, it could affect your whole life differently.
I think I would do it. I would tell myself not to be too hard on me. I would urge myself to be more careful with the drinking (when it started), to hold off on losing my virginity, and to go to school. Fuck taking journalism, go with the original plan. Go see Uncle, out west. Go travel, learn. Live.