An Open Letter To My 17-Year-Old Self

M I S C H E L L E
M I S C H E L L E

This month, I turned 27.

If I could go back ten years I would want you to know everything I have learned. I know you are fearless, often reckless, and ready for any adventure. But you are also quietly unsure, sometimes hesitant, and sometimes too safe.

You will at times feel afraid of growing older too fast, because there is so much more to see and do, but do not worry, 17-year-old me. You will be blessed with health and opportunity, and you will see and do more than you could ever imagine in the next ten years. And this is still only the beginning.

As you get older, your life will change in ways you never could have expected. Sometimes, the people you hoped would stay will leave, but the ones you never expected to stick around will be the ones who are there when you need them most. But I don’t want you to ever be afraid, because there is nothing this life will hand to you that you are not fully equipped to handle on your own.

You will travel often. This life of yours will take you to parts of the earth you never imagined being lucky enough to visit, and will make you yearn for home more than you ever thought you could. You will experience the extreme highs and the low lows of both adventure and challenge, but you will handle it all confidently. You will speak foreign languages, taste foreign foods, kiss foreign gentlemen, and return home exhausted.

You will move more times than you could ever expect. It will at times feel like a wild adventure and at times feel like a harrowing burden. But each move you make will be a step towards your future and the exciting life ahead. Try not to think of each move across the country – or across the world – as starting over, but rather, as taking the next step. Because every home you make and every roommate you live with will teach you more things about the way people work that you ever could have learned if you had stayed in one place.

You will eventually give up on wearing bangs. They are a great look, but they are not for you. And that’s okay.

Your parents will disappoint you. They will disappoint you in ways you never expected they would, and in ways they won’t know that they have. But try to be forgiving and try to be understanding, because when you turn 27 you will have finally realized that your parents are still growing up too. They did the best they could with the hands they were dealt, and even if it does not always feel like it, they love you more than anyone else ever will.

Those people who said your metabolism would catch up to you when you got older? Fuck ‘em. It won’t. (But you should probably watch the pasta when you tour Europe in 2010).

You will finally touch your toes. In fact, your body will surprise you in many ways. You will take up yoga and jogging, and walking all around the city will bring you so much joy. By the time you turn 27, you will feel more comfortable in that beautiful body of yours than you ever have before. You have treated it well, so continue to do so. It will thank you later.

By the time you turn 27, people will make try to make you feel guilty because you don’t cook. Don’t listen to them. Carrie Bradshaw used her oven to store shoes and she was fucking fabulous.

You will learn that the people who were mean to you in high school will not matter for the rest of your life. Some of them will even try to be your friend later on, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to be nice. Stop worrying now, because nothing about high school will matter for the rest of your life.

Except the people you spent your weekends with.

Think about your two best friends. I’m excited to tell you that those two girls will still be your two best friends when you turn 27. Your friendships will grow and change, and it won’t be like how you planned it when you were in high school. There will be times where you will go weeks – months – without speaking, and times when you speak every day. You won’t see them all the time, but they are always there. And on the day you turn 27, they will be the first to tell you how much they love you. Cherish them, because friendships like those are difficult to find and impossible to replace, and you will soon find that no two people will ever understand you better than they do.

Floss more often. Trust me on this one.

You are still learning to accept compliments, but you are getting better. You are funny and you are witty, but you don’t need to deprecate yourself so much. Sometimes it’s okay to just say “thank you.”

You will fall in love easily and often.

And every person you fall in love with will break your heart. Each time it will hurt harder than the last time, but do not be discouraged, 17-year-old me. You fall hard because your heart is warm, large, beats quickly, and makes room for too many. But remember that each heartbreak is a manifestation of personal growth. Each heartbreak is a lesson from which you will learn how to better yourself, open yourself, and rehabilitate yourself.

Do not be afraid to get closer to 30. There is nothing to fear. Never lose your positive spirit, your carefree energy, and your laugh that is sometimes too loud. You are not naive for having so much fun; you have so much fun because you are resilient. Do not let people make you feel otherwise.

You will laugh, you will cry, you will drink until you get sick. You will take many long flights and many long drives and the music you love will help you to feel everything deeply along the way. You will say things that hurt others and you will learn to apologize. You will achieve and you will make mistakes.

You will at times feel left behind, at times feel ahead of the pack, and at times you will feel incredibly alone. You will see that others often rely on each other and often rely on you, and it will be difficult for you – and for them – because you won’t understand what that’s like.

But you are blessed with a trait that few can comprehend and even fewer can relate to.

Because what makes you special, 17-year-old me, is that you are already whole.

You just don’t know it yet. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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