Since I was about 13 I have been writing letters every birthday to my future self. They go something like: Dear 16 year old me, I wonder if you have a boyfriend? Don’t do drugs!!! I always look back at them with a sense of longing, wishing that I knew then what I knew now, and that happens every single year. Imagine if you could retroactively send yourself a letter. What would you say?
Dear Little baby Em,
Well, you are going to fuck up a lot, but even the biggest end of the world mistakes are going to pass, and are going to be learning experiences. Please learn to forgive people. A lot of people will hurt you beyond what you imagined was possible, but instead of hanging on to your anger let go and tell them that you forgive them. They are just making mistakes like you are, and you just happened to get in the path of destruction. Instead of texts, write letters, because you will hang onto those forever & one day dumb notes passed in class will mean the world to you. Finally, stop worrying what other people think about you. It’s exhausting, it’s a waste of your time. You have so many people that will love you no matter what, and your opinion of yourself is the most important.
Your slightly older and wiser self
Here’s what you guys sent in & would say to your younger self.
Embrace what you feel: you will grow up and you will feel things so intensely that you’ll try to numb them out but don’t do it. Don’t be afraid to fall in love and yes, that boy will break your heart but guess what? It won’t be the end of the world and you’ll move on to meet people that will blow your mind with how amazing they are.
Eat. Eat when you feel hungry or when you are craving something desperately, nourish your body and appreciate it. You’ll have a tricky relationship with food but I’m sure you’ll eventually be able to see that you are so much more than what you eat and that slice of pizza won’t make you any less than you are.
Appreciate. Appreciate that trip you’ll take to England with your closest friends and that time one of your favorite artists touched your hand and you could swore you two were going to get married, but make sure you don’t forget to also cherish the smaller moments because those will be your greater memories. Appreciate those times when you’ll run into a friend you haven’t seen in ages and they will look genuinely happy to see you and you end up having lunch and talking for four hours straight. Appreciate that amazing pasta your grandma will make for a family dinner where everyone will stay up playing charades until 2am. Appreciate playing volleyball under the rain and making your team lose because you can’t stop laughing and appreciate your friends even more for laughing with you and not making you feel bad about it.
You have an entire world to discover, and you have yet to know what is like to dive into the sea with the cold water splashing your body, to laugh until you’re crying and you think you’ll never be able to stop, to be at a concert and you close your eyes when the band comes in and everyone is together and then they start playing your favorite song and these moments cali, these moments will change your life. Live them fully.
The most important love is your self love. If you don’t love yourself then you could never love someone else. Growing up, I had several boyfriends, sometimes one after another. I realized that my unhealthy obsession of boyss approval & praise sprouted from my self image. I would tell my old self that I am beautiful inside and out. That little scar on your arm, those stretch marks on your thighs, that mole on your back does not define you, but rather symbolizes your imperfection, your beauty. I would tell myself that other peoples’ opinions don’t do shit to your self worth or happiness, unless I allow it to. I can wear what I want, sing when I want and dance when I want. I am beautiful. I am perfectly imperfect.
Hey highschool me! Guess what? You should stop worrying about losing your virginity. “Virginity” is really just a social construct anyway, you don’t lose anything. In fact you gain something; a semi-awkward but nonetheless cool experience. It’s also ok to cry in front of people, if anything I encourage it. Especially if you’re angry. It does not make you weak or less than and if the people around think so and ask you why there are tears streaming down your face just quote Amy Poehler and say “I’m just crying because of how wrong you are”. Moving on, boys are dumb and immature. This is just a fact, not really advice but still. Also, they’re scientifically speaking like a gazillion years behind females in evolving or something like that (I don’t know, don’t quote me on this). The fact is, he will not surprise you with cute text messages or notes in your locker. You’ll eventually muster up the courage to ask him out, he’ll say yes and then 10 minutes into the date you’ll realize that after all these years of pining after him, he’s a bit of a let down. Some final pieces of advice: do your best, love yourself (immensely), don’t quit playing football/soccer, eat whatever you want. Except animals. That’s not cool. But that peanut butter jar you have in your kitchen at all times? Yeah eat it ALL in one sitting. You deserve it.
One day you will find happiness and positivity and you will find people who truly love you. With time you will learn how to come to terms with who you are and you will see how beautiful this world is. You can’t change other people, you have to be the one to move on.
Don’t try to be a certain way to get attention- dress for yourself, say what is on your mind and stick to what you truly believe in. Don’t remove yourself from your friends and family, they actually like you.
Love nature, find beauty in everything and everyone, tell other people that they’re beautiful and that you love them. You are enough, you’re wonderful!
To my fourteen year old self:
You may not realize it yet but you have so much ahead of you, good and bad. High school will be hell sometimes, especially at first. But you’ll find your way. When you feel like you have no one, don’t be deceived. Don’t push those away that are trying so hard to understand you. Stop thinking you need to handle everything alone. It’s okay to get help and it’s okay to be vulnerable. And even if it takes you a while to get there, I promise one day you’ll be happy you made it through. Things may never be perfect, but they’ll be better. You’re so special and you don’t even know it yet. Stop being so hard on yourself. Don’t accept friends who treat you like crap. Don’t accept guys who treat you like an object. Don’t give up. Keep creating. Keep writing. Keep seeing the beauty in the world. Don’t let your love for anyone else overpower your love for yourself. And no matter what, please believe that amazing things lie ahead for you.
Love, Future you 🙂
One day you are going to laugh because of how silly you were being over things that are so little. You might not notice it but the people around you love all those little things you are not so fond of. You are going to find someone who admires and comes to love all your flaws. And lastly, you are beautiful.
To my 15 year old self and all the other lost souls out there, find what you are passionate about–your own form of art. Learn to appreciate people and places and see beauty in the littlest things. Know that no matter how much of a romantic you are, falling for a bad boy is always a bad idea. And most of all, know that everything happens for a reason and no matter how bad or empty it seems right now, there is always something more.
Read more books, be more curious, do what you love, and start creating your own path in life instead of walking through somebody else’s. Draw more, start filming little moments of your day like you’ve been wanting to do for months, take more photos of things that inspire you, and never be afraid to express yourself.”
I would take my middle school self by the hands and tell her to breathe. Its okay, darling. You’ve always been a little different – and you always will be. Different is good, different is fantastic! Different creates innovation and opens minds. Different can change the world. I would tell her to continue writing & continue to thrive on learning, even though no one around her seems to. I would tell her anxiety isn’t just getting nervous in front of crowds or being quiet in rooms full of people – its more than that and to follow your gut. SPEAK UP. You know something is not right.
You are more than your body. Stop restricting. Stop comparing. Stop over-exercising after only consuming 800 calories. You are only doing more harm than good – you’ll regret it when you’re older. Stop eating animals now, don’t wait another 3 years, you know what’s right.
I would tell her that the way her mind works, the way she likes to swim in the ocean by herself, the records of her dads that she listens to, the connection she undoubtedly has with the universe, the way she lets vulnerability consume her to the extent that her art is all she can think about – those things, they’re all beautiful. They’re not weird or lame. The other kids might not be doing it, but isn’t that all the more reason to continue?
Lastly, I would tell her to be in love with life and the world, and strive for happiness and equality.
All my love,
What would you say to your younger self? Write out a letter, and if you want to share it on social media, tag us @themessyheads
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