Everything I Wish I Could Tell My Teenaged Self About Love, Heartbreak, And Healing

Rosalind Chang
Rosalind Chang

This is a very special and important message to you, from you – ten years down the road. Given recent events and the last decade in general, I feel strongly compelled to reach out to you in hopes that I can make your journey through the ups and downs of love and disappointment run a little smoother. You’re stubborn, so I don’t know if you’ll listen to anything I have to say. And maybe you shouldn’t. But nevertheless, here it goes.

Firstly, I’m thrilled to inform you that you actually made it to the age of 24, despite barely being able to picture yourself making it past the age of 19. You will grow to be wise, beautiful, passionate and happy. Being an adult will suck as much as you’re afraid it will, if not more, but you got this. And I’m telling you in advance that you definitely won’t be the only 20-something in the world who is really, really bad at β€œadulting.” (That term will be really popular when you’re my age, trust me.)

Secondly, you’re in for a hell of a ride when it comes to love, infatuation, pain, heartbreak, and all that other good stuff. So that’s what I want to focus on. That’s what I want to talk to you about.

You have your first real crush right now. Your first real desire for a relationship, a hand to hold, and a body to cradle. You care about him far more than he deserves, and even though that’s an unfortunate thing, it’s also a beautiful thing. So just enjoy it. Enjoy it when he actually texts you back. Enjoy it when he hugs you. Enjoy it when he walks you to class. Enjoy it when he gives you butterflies. He’s a nice guy with relatively good intentions, but you will eventually come to realize that you’re wasting your time on him. And when you do, you’ll drop him like a bad habit and never look back. You will be so proud of yourself when you do this, and you damn well should be. Always be proud of that, because it will be one of your finer moments.

Thirdly, you are going to encounter a disheartening number of β€œalmost relationships” moving forward. You will be willing to give your all to guys who will barely give you their time, much less the decency of a real relationship.

There will be a guy who asks you out a million times, tells you he loves you, and looks at you like you’re the only girl in the world. And then out of nowhere, he will start dating somebody else.

There will be a guy who seems like a real life prince charming. An older man. A real man. And then he will start doing something really weird and unacceptable. (Don’t worry. I won’t spoil it.)

There will be a guy who will take you on a couple of dates and give you a glimpse of something promising in the wake of a devastating heartbreak. And then he will let you down easy and properly – but not until you confront him about his dwindling interest in you.

There will be a guy who is a dear friend for three years before suddenly sweeping you off your feet. He is going to give you a taste of what real love feels like – the kind you’re terrified of losing. And then instead of defining the relationship, fighting for you, and making you a home in his heart, he will change. All at once and without the slightest bit of warning, he will knock you off that pretty pedestal and break your heart into a thousand little pieces. He will be your first love and your deepest sorrow.

It pains me to tell you about that last one. I don’t want you to hesitate when he comes knocking. I don’t want you to avoid this experience. I don’t want you to regret falling madly in love with him.

Promise me that you will just dive in, even though you know he will end up hurting you.

Because before he hurts you, he will make you really happy. He will bring sunlight to a dark year and hope to an anxious heart. He will challenge you and push you to take risks – to do what you’ve never done and go where you’ve never gone. You will kiss him on a New York City sidewalk while your nose is cold and your heart is warm. You will tell him you love him as you timidly fiddle with the buttons on that forest green jacket he wears all the time, and he will say it back without a moment’s hesitation.

He means it, darling. He loves you, and maybe a part of him always will. But instead of allowing his dark and shitty past to soften him, he has allowed it to harden him indefinitely. He lives behind a wall that nobody can climb. If anyone could climb it, it would be you, but he won’t allow it. Every time you try, he will knock you down again. Again and again and again. You can bleed yourself dry for him, place your beating heart in the palm of his hand, and desperately try to change him and make him see how special and dedicated you are, and he still won’t budge. It won’t be enough. It will never, ever be enough.

This is going to be very hard for you to understand and accept. It will take months and months of crying, suffering, living with blind hope, waking up in a panic, not finishing your dinner, and battling a beast of a depression, but you are going to make it. There will be days where you feel like you’re dying, but you’re not. You’re hurting, and we all hurt. We must. Without hurt, there cannot be joy. Without challenge, there cannot be growth. You will be so strong by the time you come out of this that you’ll barely recognize yourself.

It will be like a rebirth.

Until then, I’m telling you straight up that it will be the worst thing you ever go through up to this point. Please hang in there when the time comes. Talk about it with anyone who will listen if you must. Sleep all day if you must. Take a break if you must. Turn your phone off if you must. Prioritize yourself in all the ways that he didn’t, and I promise you will find the light at the end of the tunnel.

So I guess that’s the bulk of it. These are the experiences I want you to have and the lessons I want you to learn. But before I wrap this up, I have one more little thing to tell you.

In about a year, you’re going to become aware of a guy who has a huge crush on you. He will be in your 10th grade English class. He will be quiet and unassuming. He will have reddish brown hair, a gray hoodie, shy eyes, and a hesitant smile. He will avoid you like the plague, even though you’ll be curious about him and his story. He will have obnoxious friends who relentlessly try to convince you to go out with him, even though you don’t want to – even though you’re not allowed to date yet. And in a couple of years, he will disappear. He won’t graduate when you do. You are going to forget all about him as you go on to live your life, meet new guys, and have all of the aforementioned adventures and misadventures.

You don’t have to like him. You don’t have to date him. You don’t have to talk to him. You don’t have to entertain thoughts of being with him. Why? Because you’re not supposed to yet. It’s not the right time.

But I want you to remember his name. Write it down if you must.

Because you will meet him again on a typical Wednesday afternoon, 8 years later. And when you do, I hope you’re ready to be finally know what it’s like to be fiercely loved beyond your wildest dreams. TC mark

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