Before you write a letter titled, dear 18-year-old me, just stop and think about what you’re telling that girl as present day you.
First of all, don’t tell her it’s going to be okay.
Don’t tell her that what she’s going through is worth the struggle.
Don’t tell her that it’s normal and needed and real.
She needs the truth. You owe her that much.
Stop telling her that her heart will break, but it’ll be okay — let her go through that by herself.
She needs to experience every bit of hurt and she needs to cry every tear. She doesn’t need your words of comfort and encouragement.
Yes, it would be nice to tell her, to ease the pain, but she needs to learn, to discover that by herself, however hard that may be. It will make her grow, it will make her stronger — that’s how you got to where you are and it’s how she will, too.
Although you don’t feel all that strong sometimes, think about how much weaker you’d be now if you gave her the words you’re about to write.
She has a mother with good hugs and a father that wants to take her pain away. She has friends that will console her to make her smile. And she has herself through it all.
Although she might not feel like she can do it, she can and she will. It’s in her and you know that. Don’t tell her otherwise.
She’ll beg you to tell her about her future. I know you’re tempted. She just wants to know what’s in her fate. But she doesn’t need your tales of dreams and a life you worked so hard for. Let her work hard for that life, because the taste of success won’t be as sweet if you’ve already given the game away.
She’s in a bubble. A misshapen fragile bubble floating towards a forest of thorns. Don’t burst it. Let it float its course.
Don’t give her hope. She needs to keep imaging the hope. She needs to realize it all on her own, just give her time.
Don’t lie to her.
She needs to know that you still cry about the same things and still wish to be liked. She needs to know that not everything changes, and time gets harder to deal with.
But don’t tell her that. Let her ignorance be bliss. I don’t care how much she wants to know. Leave the mystery — it’s the only good part about life, the idea of the unknown. The expectation of nascent aspirations.
Let her make the choices that you regret. Let her kiss the wrong boys and befriend the wrong people. Let her ask ‘is this what love is?’ and realize that it’s not. Let her make the wrong career choices and drink too much and say all the wrong things.
Don’t tell her that all of this will happen just because you’re trying to justify your actions. This is for her sake, not yours.
Just let her be. She doesn’t need you. It might not look like she does, but she doesn’t. You need you. She really wants to live a life not knowing.
Don’t tell her right from wrong or push your opinions on her. Let her make her mind up about the things you’re so sure of in the present. Let her come to her own conclusions, no matter how wrong you think they might be now. It’s what felt right at the time.
If you’re going to tell her anything, just let her know you’re still living and growing and learning. Or maybe you just shouldn’t tell her anything at all.
Would you like it if you received a letter from 45-year-old you tomorrow? A letter that tells you all about your thirties, whether you got married and had kids, whether you did everything you thought you were going to do at the age?
What would be the point of carrying on?
She’s still a baby. Still full of magic. She’s young enough to know that she can do anything and be anyone she wants, but doesn’t know quite who that is yet and is afraid to try.
Don’t you want her to have that magic for as long as possible? Why ruin it for her?
Don’t map out her time. Just look back and remember her. Give her a wave and a wink — that’s all she needs right now. She doesn’t need this letter.