Almost twenty years ago, my middle school English teacher had us write letters to our future selves. Yesterday, I found that letter while cleaning out old boxes. I found a series of letters I wrote to myself from ages twelve to twenty-one, a pivotal decade in my life. What started as a middle school English project morphed into a time capsule of my youth. More optimistic (and less maudlin) than a daily journal, these letters were annual form letters to myself. In them I was able to celebrate my triumphs and mourn my defeats without the daily grind of adolescence to tarnish them. I asked questions of my future self in the hopes that future me would gain wisdom I currently lacked, like about fashion and boys. I have reread these letters a few times over the years, but this time I decided to answer myself. Many times over the years I have wanted to go back and have a conversation with my younger self. Well now here’s my chance. Without further ado, here’s the answers to the hard-hitting questions of a tween to her future self:
How are you?
I am fine, thanks for asking.
How was high school?
High school wasn’t all that bad actually. Emotionally draining, but ultimately redemptive.
Did I ever get the hell out of Cobb County?
Yes. You did in fact “get the hell out of Cobb County.” However, you did find that new places don’t always solve your problems.
I weigh eighty pounds. Did I stay that way?
No. You no longer weigh eighty pounds and that’s okay. What is a normal weight for a twelve-year-old isn’t the same as what works for a thirty-year-old. You are a healthy weight for your age and that’s what matters. If you are asking if you are beautiful, the answer is yes.
Did we finally get a date with Michael S. Was it awesome?
Yes. You did go on a date with Michael S., and no it wasn’t all you thought it’d be. Good kissing is important.
Did you marry Kurt Cobain? Because he is fine! But kind of sad.
Sadly, Kurt Cobain died before you could marry him. Yes, he did seem sad.
Can you explain boys’ fashion?
I don’t know why boys had chains connecting their belt loops to their wallets either.
Do you still talk to your friends?
Yes. Through the magic of Facebook (long story) you still keep in contact with your friends. No we don’t hang out, but I do like their statuses. Friendships are more fluid now. It’s complicated, don’t worry about it.
What color is your hair? Did mom ever let you dye it?
You have brown hair right now. Yes. All the colors.
And since you asked (twice), yes. You do have a boyfriend (a fiancé in fact). In fact, you had lots of relationships (of all kinds and genders) over the years. Some were great. Some were… not so great. But each and every one of them was worth it. Because that’s the question you are really asking. Is all this effort going to be worth it in the end? Is the heartbreak, rejection, and awkwardness you feel now ultimately going to serve a greater good? You are asking if you will find value and worth… and love. I can promise that you will find all of these things and more. You will have careers and friends and adventures that will thrill you and test you and strengthen you, even when they seem to break you. You will flourish because you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are valuable and worthy—of love and everything else.