Tomorrow I will have been 26 for a whole month.
It’s still in that weird phase where you have to think about it for a second when someone asks you how old you are. But I am trying to own it. I keep thinking about my birthday and the letter I wrote to my 36-year-old self. The advice, the dreams, the self-love I expressed in that handwritten note. I have a picture of who I want to be in ten years, and it gets clearer every day. All of that is built on who I am today. How I got here, who I have been. It made me start thinking about what I would have told myself ten years ago. There is so much I wish I would have known. What would I have said to my 16-year-old self to help her through those heartbreaking and ridiculously fun teenage years? It might have been something like this…
Dear 16 Year Old Me,
You are not too much. Don’t dim your shine because it makes other people uncomfortable. Keep being your loud, silly, emotional, empathetic, talented, joyful self. Lean into it. It is who you are. You are enough.
Not everyone is going to like you. That is okay!
Mean Girls is a hilarious movie. Real mean girls are not your friends. Don’t waste your time.
Pick your battles wisely. You don’t have to submerge yourself in the drama. You will save yourself a lot of heartache if you learn to listen and act with kindness.
You are funny. Don’t believe the people who don’t know you are.
Boys who won’t stand up and say they like you because you aren’t cool enough, pretty enough, popular enough are not nice. They just aren’t. And you can’t change them. Don’t give your heart away. They don’t deserve it anyway.
Always choose your friends. The friends who are by your side through good and bad. The friends who love you no matter what. Cherish them. They will be with you a long time.
Spend time with your family. There will come a time when you can’t see them every day.
I admire the way you fiercely stand up for those you love and the things you believe in. Love and believe in yourself enough to stand up for you. You are worth it.
Forgive those who have hurt you. Even if they don’t apologize. Carrying around that hurt and anger won’t change it. The only person it affects is you. Lose that list of wrongs that is weighing you down.
Use your words. It’s okay to be vulnerable. Tell people how you feel. Ask for what you want. Share your thoughts. Learning how to express yourself and communicate effectively is going to make everything so much simpler.
Never miss an opportunity to laugh! Smile. With your teeth.
Be proud of all you have accomplished. You have worked hard! You have something to offer. Carry that confidence with you.
Don’t be so afraid to color outside of the lines! Being perfect is boring. Get messy. Go on adventures. Have some fun!
Know that you are brave for choosing your own path. You are an explorer.
You are supported and loved. You always will be.
I might be a little biased, but I think you are extraordinary. I hope you can learn to love yourself as much as I love you.
All my love,
26 Year Old Me