If I were ever to encounter the 16 year old me in person by some weird time warp, I’m fairly positive the only thing we’d be identical in is our chubby cheeks (and dimples) that have yet to fade away.
So, I’m writing a letter to my 16 year old self today to try and remind her that who she is now isn’t who she’s always going to be. At 16, you don’t really understand life at all. And, things are going to get tough, and although I wish I could tell her to keep an eye out for a few crossroads, in the end-she becomes a much, much better person from it. And more importantly, a happier person.
Dear 16 year old me,
I know you hate school. I know you skip frequently, and you don’t see the point of any of it. You sit in the back of class, and as a front you seem as if you’re taking notes-but really, you’re planning out every detail on how to get out of here.
Let me tell you, that wandering mind of yours never changes-but you realize how important school is, eventually. You might have got by without picking up a text book in high school, because you were smart enough to figure out the logical answers to the questions without even studying the subject. But, college is much much different, my friend-and you learned that the hard way the first couple semesters.
But wait, you’re probably wondering-how did I even end up going to college? I thought my plan was to go off into the horse world, and never come back?
Well. You did that. A week after you graduated high school, you hopped on a plane to London, Ontario, and worked at a major hunter/jumper breeding & show barn for a few months. And in the end, you were absolutely miserable, and had no idea what the hell you were doing with your life. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
You’re 16. I know you hate high school, and I know you avoid looking at people in the hallways, and avoid the lunch room at all costs-and either go to your favorite teacher’s class to eat, or go to the library. I know it sucks, but people in high school are just as confused and miserable as you-but they like to take it out on other people, and that’s not your fualt. It’s not your fault that you didn’t fit in, and it’s not your fault that miserable people liked to point that out as often as they could. But you held it together, and my god, you made it.
I know horses are absolutely everything to you. I know that they saved your life, literally. You still remember every single horse show, every single horse you ever rode, and all those late nights practicing at the barn. I know they were your crutch through those years you were so alone, and I know it almost seems impossible to imagine your life without them, because to you-life without them is just hell. I know you never show a single emotion to your family, and that’s still rough for you now, but it gets better. Once you move away, your relationship with them actually improves. You get a taste a freedom, you gain confidence, and let go of things I know you thought you would never let go.
But I know you arn’t actually totally alone, you do have a couple of good people in your life-and you won’t really realize how important they are to you until later. Madeline, the girl a few years younger than you at the barn? Yeah, y’all always showed together, and you liked her a lot, but now you feel a little ‘too old’ to be hanging with a 13 year old…well, she ends up being your best friend, and ya’ll are 24 and 21 right now, and the age difference is nothing because you’re basically the same people but she’s a Hufflepuff and you’re a Ravenclaw. You also met a girl in high school that is absolutely opposite of you in every way, but yet she’s always nice to you and super talkative and friendly-and ya’ll end up having a lot more in common than you think, and a couple years into college ya’ll start hanging out, and become best friends obsessing about Harry Potter. You actually go with them both to HP world-3 TIMES-and everytime it was an absolutely magical experience.
But, let’s go back to you. You’re 16, and although you’ve never had a boyfriend, I know what you’re feeling for that boy you say is ‘just a friend’. I know ya’ll become close, and the lines blur, and I know that deep down you want him to realize someday how much you care for him. But you never want to hope it, because you feel like you’re nobody and not near pretty enough. I know you also know deep down, that he knows the way you’re feeling. And he’s playing you. Eventually, it gets too much to take. It gets even more blurry lined, and even more complicated, and you don’t ever say how you feel, because deep down you know how this is going to end. Eventually, it does. He breaks your heart, and you’re the one that feels stupid and pathetic.
I wish I could tell you to avoid him at all costs, but I won’t, because whatever pain he caused you, however many years it took you to finally trust and hope and love again, eventually you meet someone that loves you just as much as you love them. You meet someone who really deserves you, and he’s incredible in every way. But, until then, you’ll have Taylor Swift to get you through all the heartache-and when you hear or really listen to’Dear John’ for the first time it’s going to stab you in the heart, because how can someone know exactly what happened to you? but it’s also a relief to know that Tswift got through it and moved on to bigger and better things, and better people, and so can you.
Your social life after high school takes a 180 degree turn, and as much as you thought you were okay with being alone, it’s surprising how much you absolutely love meeting new people and making friends now. I mean, you moved to San Antonio, and you freaking joined the soccer club (random, I know, but you’re actually really good at it for never playing), and made a best friend with a teammate-and she is one of the most wonderful persons on this planet. You both are dreamers, and now she’s living in NYC, the city of your dreams now too. You room with her in your last years on undergrad, ya’ll get each other through those terrible study days, and she ends up taking you out to parties for the first time in your life. And you love it. You know why? Because you are actually with good, genuine people, and they love you as much as you love them.
Oh, and I know you never thought you’d even go to college, so let’s talk about that. So, you did it. You moved to Canada and became a working student at a major hunter/jumper barn. You even get to go to major shows, and are planning on being in Florida for the winter circuit. But, you quit in August. I know you don’t understand really how or why you would do that, and at the time it was just as confusing.. But you were miserable. And it wasn’t the amount of work, because you understood that that was the life for a working student. 12 your days, 6 days a week. But, you got to spend it with horses, so it all seemed worth it. It definitely did in the begining. But, eventually, you start to feel so lost. You start to realize, that you want so much more out of life than being at a barn or in the show ring all day. You grew up truly loving to read and learn, you just hated school when it came to grades and the social aspect of it. But, you miss it. You miss books. You miss learning, you miss using your brain to think of creative ideas, and you start to become so miserable that everyone at the barn notices that you haven’t been sleeping or eating much, and you even lose 20 pounds (and you were only 120 to begin with.) You realize you can’t keep living like this. You’re just going through the motions, and find yourself craving the bed every day, and don’t even really see the horses that surround you anymore. Something snaps in you, and you get just enough momentum to call home and book a flight, and just like that you left that world without a glance back.
You come home, and realize you need to sign up with ACC to just learn how to really go to school. You also continue to ride, and get to ride an awesome horse named Guy Smiley, and he brought back the joy you had with riding before you went to Canada. After a couple years, you get into UTSA. And at UTSA, you realize how freaking small you are in this world, and how much you need to learn about it. You get involved, and you become..happy. Truly, happy. It’s weird at first, because you feel weird that you arn’t riding while in SA, but, that eventually comes back into your life. You take a couple years to explore life outside of the horse world, and in those years you end up meeting the love of your life in a poli sci class. The first time ya’ll hang out is literally the song ‘Begin Again’ by Tswift (and every day after is every good feeling song by her) And ya’ll are now engaged, and finally planning your kind of secretive escape wedding-and it’s going to be freaking incredible. Oh, and you end up going to grad school, and are focused on becoming a lawyer someday.
I know that everything I said sounds crazy, because none of it is anything you want to do or even think about right now. That career never passed the mind of a shy and troubled 16 year old, but you become so, so much more than that over the years. And really, the person you are at 24 was in you all along, you just needed some time to grow into that person. And really, at 24 you still have a lot of growing to do, but you’re okay with that.
At 16 you may think you are a ‘nobody’, and you may think you don’t belong anywhere in this world, but that isn’t true. You may think you aren’t brave enough to do any of the things I say you are going to do, but you are. Right now, at 16, you are. You just don’t know it yet, and need to have a little more faith in yourself. Once you do, there’s nothing that can stop you.