An Open Letter To My 16-Year-Old Self: I’m Sorry I’ve Failed You

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Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho / Unsplash

I remember you were always excited to grow up and put your big plans into action. You always believed that being an adult would make you happier and give you new opportunities to express your rich inner world. And here I am, sending you a letter from the future. I am what you always wanted to be, a 22-year-old independent adult, and I’m here to send you bad news. I failed you.

You were always different. You were a confident child walking Earth as if it belonged to you. You would wear whatever made you feel light, you would match colors in the most awkward mixes, and you’d be content. You’d be happy because this outfit would reflect your very own energy. What others say wasn’t your business. The world was all about you and what you loved. But that’s not how it is now. I don’t wear and behave the way my soul desires. Instead, I try to please a society masked with a façade of fakeness. I gave up my individuality to fit in that glamour puzzle we all want so bad to be a part of.

I’ve thrown away my long rainbow shirts and replaced them with whatever uncomfortable trend would pop up. I no more chose the colors I truly loved. I started to choose colors they would love, whoever “they” are.

You were always so clear about how you should be treated. You would always be there for your friends and expect them to be there for you too. I remember how you’d block anyone who’d carry negative vibes into your life or make you feel less worthy. You were so bold about what you wanted. I wasn’t.

Instead, I’m trapped in a toxic love where I give and give with nothing but emptiness being thrown at me in return. I fell in love with someone who would put minimal effort into our relationship. Someone who would never put me as a priority, who would let me fall asleep with tears all over my pillow. And I stayed with him, I stayed persuading myself that it’s all in the name of love.

I know that you wouldn’t have stayed.

But that’s not all. I feel ashamed to admit all the other promises I didn’t keep.

I stopped coloring because I didn’t have time for it anymore and it didn’t make me money. I’m sorry, but they’ve persuaded me that whatever doesn’t bring some form of financial profit to my pocket isn’t worth my time. I’ve been brainwashed by the hustle society always in a hurry trying to make a living while running away from life.

Family movie nights stopped being my favorite way to spend a Sunday evening because I can’t post something so ordinary on Snapchat. I simply can’t post a photo of my sister asleep on our worn out couch or the table covered with crumbles of homemade popcorn. We’ve become miserable social media slaves. We no more go out to actually enjoy ourselves, we go out to “post” that we’ve enjoyed ourselves.

Sorry again, but I guess I’ve also forgotten why I got into college. I forgot about the tiny dream that has lived too long in your heart. You believed I would fulfill it, that I’d help souls just as you wanted me to, that I’d be a famous psychologist. I forgot how much this major meant to you and how much you wanted to conquer the world after graduating.

I’m graduating this year, but I’ll confess that it doesn’t feel like a big thing to me. I know that no job is waiting for me after graduation and I’ll just be another name in the national unemployment statistic.

I have to admit that I’ve quit writing. I tried publishing the two novels we once wrote when I was older than you but younger than I am now. I offered the scripts to several publishers, few of who advised me to stop wasting my time on this. And I failed you again.

I hate the beach now too. I remember you’d wait all year long for summer to knock the doors, and you’d hit the beach with your purple flip-flops and floral dress. I remember you’d sit hours playing in the sand and swimming through the waves. I remember the beach very well, and that memory is all I have left of it because I haven’t gone to one for three years now. I hate the beach now. I hate revealing my body publicly. I don’t want people to see the ugly parts of me I myself dread. I envy you for having the courage to walk out there confidently without the fear of people judging you. I wish I was like you. I changed.

Everything fried makes me fat, chocolate brings up the acne, burgers feed my belly. Yes, basically, I just eat now all that you used to hate. Veggies and baked food.

You can now clearly see how miserable an adult’s life is. When you’re too lost to understand who you are and what you want. When you try to fit in while giving away your own individuality. When all roads seem blurry and unclear. When all you want is to be a child again or to send a letter to your younger self asking it to never grow up.

Because if I knew what being an adult was actually like, I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up. TC mark

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