An open letter to my 16-year-old self

Dear Grace,

I won’t start this letter asking how you’ve been. Even though it’s been eight years since I was 16, I’m aware and remember all you are going through.

If I am writing to you now, it is not to lecture you on how vulnerable or emotionally weak you think you are. Yes, you are going through some hard times, and your self-esteem is not at its peak moment, but guess what? That’s fine.

I am here to give you some advice which could or could not help you. Because I know you better than anyone, I know it’ll be the first option.

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An open apology…

But before we get into that, I owe you an apology. I know I wasn’t kind to you during high school. I barely took care of you and and didn’t understand what you were feeling and going through. Now I know you and your health should have been my priority. That’s why I’m writing to you today.

I know how hard it is for you to believe in yourself and in what you can accomplish. Take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror and appreciate all that you are. At first, you might not like what you see, but I promise you one thing: you can conquer the world if you want to.

And some open advice…

Don’t ignore the way you are feeling. All the sadness, despair, and loneliness are not okay. Seek help! Take care of your mental health because it matters, even if they’ve made you believe it doesn’t. 

Make sure you smile and start enjoying your life. You only have one shot at high school, to make unforgettable memories to tell your kids about in the future. Go out with your friends and try a piece of the wild side of life… but a small one.

And speaking of friends… look around, you’ve got plenty! But please, don’t take them for granted. There will come a time when you’ll have to let go of some friends who have been in your life for years. It will hurt like hell, and you’ll feel like your world is falling apart, but trust me when I say in the long run, it’s for the best. Grace, don’t hold on to people for fear of being lonely. You deserve people who want to be by your side genuinely, and you have them, but you need to look closely to figure out who they are.

Let’s talk about family…

Some of the people who will always be there have been by your side all your life: family. Treasure every second you spend with them. Family is family. Stop fighting with Mom over things that, in the end, don’t matter at all. Hug Dad, even if he isn’t good at accepting love gestures. Get to know our sister and be there for her; she’s not as strong as she pretends to be. Don’t lose contact with our brother because of the distance; he’s a cool big brother who will always protect us. Most importantly, remember that family is not only Mom, Dad and our siblings… love everyone through everything.

As you keep growing up and the time to choose a major comes, follow your heart. Don’t be scared to talk about your dreams or of saying what you want. Mom and Dad will always support you because they love you, so have faith in yourself to take this big step. Take into consideration the dreams you’ve had since you were 14. Those will guide you. Remember, it’s okay to make mistakes because there are certain things that people only learn through trial and error. Just keep in mind you have to get back on your feet after you fall… you are not allowed to stay on the ground, no matter how bad you wish you could.

Some words of advice on our inner fangirl…

Can you go back in your mind to the day when you hung up your first Justin Bieber poster?

Well, you’ll get over him, I promise. Yeah, the music is cool, but you won’t be Mrs. Bieber.

But… are you getting over Harry Styles?

Not a chance. Don’t get rid of the door-size poster you’ll get. You never know when you will want to hang it up again in future years.

Now, let’s talk about moving to different cities. I know we have been through our fair share of moves and it can get tiring. Sometimes you will think back to all the places you’ve lived in and think you don’t belong to any of them. Well, there will come a day when you’ll realize your heart is big enough to call home all those places where you’ve left smiles, tears, bits of your heart, fears, and people. Don’t be scared of missing all those places because they are part of who we are.

Even if sometimes you think you can never give your heart entirely to anyone because someone will end up leaving at one point or the other, you can… and you should. Trust people because we can’t always hold the weight of the world on our own. Yes, they might sometimes turn out to not be what you expected, and they might hurt you at times, but you’ll get over it, I swear. Give love. You have plenty for everyone.

And some words on love…

Speaking of love, I left this till the end because what I am about to say was a shocker for me when I realized it. I have four words for you: don’t let him go.

You might be confused and not know who I am referring to, but think carefully. There is one guy who has had your whole heart since you were 12. Deep down, you’ve always known it’s been him all along. You’ve just been too scared to admit it. If you still don’t know who I’m talking about, I’ll give you two more hints. He’s the only one who’s always brave and bold enough to tell you things as they are, no matter how much they might hurt. He’s also the only person you’ve trusted with all of you.

Words of advice: make a playlist with the songs he’s dedicated to you and the ones you’ve dedicated to him. You might want to listen to them in future years.

So again… don’t let him go.

To finish this…

Finally, the most important thing I want to tell you is that fearing change is part of life. We’ve changed and will continue to do so. People around us change, places do too. The most important thing you need to keep in mind is to move on with life. Don’t get stuck, even if at times you feel like there’s nowhere else to go. You are smart, brave, and persistent. Don’t ever forget it. 

I’m aware that with change come insecurities, so please, pay attention to your mental health. Do things at your own pace and if you ever feel overwhelmed and like you need help, ask for it. Stop bottling up your feelings; it will get you nowhere and will only give more work to our therapist in the future. Trust me. I know that.

And since I don’t want to bore you with any more advice, I’ll let you be by saying you are strong enough to get through anything. So please never stop fighting.

P.S. Don’t stop writing!

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