To my teenage self

Dear teenage Kate,

You don’t quite know how to picture your future, so let me help you. Life gets better….and worse. There will be times that are harder than what you are going through now, hard to imagine, I know. As much as now you wish to be done with where you are at, there will be times when you want to go back to this time in your life. There will also be great times, you will do things that you never thought you would do, your life will look entirely different.

You will not only go to college, you will graduate, twice. It will be hell at times, but its not as hard as you think it will be. It will be a huge accomplishment. You will prove everyone wrong who makes you feel inadequate, and by the time you graduate, you wont care about them anymore. Unfortunately, part of the reason you wont care about them is because there are new people who make you feel inadequate. You are not inadequate. Having challenges in your life is not a deficiency.

You get more than one chance at loving someone, at friendship and caring, so be less stingy in sharing yourself with people. Life will be easier if you start being generous with yourself now. But think highly enough of yourself to recognize that someones interest or affection for you, romantic or friendly, should not make them more attractive to you on that basis alone.

When you get catcalled, you are right to feel skeeved out and threatened, not flattered. Trust your gut, if it doesn’t feel like a compliment, it isn’t one.

In fact, just start trusting your gut more in general.

Stop hating your hair, face and body, that road is long and twisty. You are young and relatively healthy, enjoy it more, for me.

When your mom and grandmother remind you to wear sunscreen, don’t just smile and nod, slop that stuff on.

Clean your room.

Paint more, and don’t stop.

Seek out people who challenge you. Stand up for yourself to people who tear you down. You may think that you are taking the higher road when you ignore those people, but it is not the high road if you only take it because you fear confrontation, because you fear opening your mouth will prove them right.

Be mindful of your right big toe.

Neither adventure nor reality should be shied away from.

Above all remember this: fear and struggle never go away completely, but that is okay. You will survive. You will be proud of yourself. No mistake is so big that it cancels out everything else. You will evolve and grow. You will get smarter and have more informed opinions. You will travel far and wide.

You will survive.

Just keep all that in mind, Kate. For my sake and yours.

Love,

future Kate

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