"Tears splash on to my keyboard now. I am perhaps happier now than I have ever been and yet I cannot but recognize that I would trade all that I am to be you, the eternally unhappy, nervous, wild, wondering and despairing 16-year-old Stephen: angry, angst-ridden and awkward but alive. Because you know how to feel, and knowing how to feel is more important than how you feel. Deadness of soul is the only unpardonable crime, and if there is one thing happiness can do it is mask deadness of soul."
The writers of The Frisky then prompted readers to write their own letters to their 16-year-old selves. The responses were astounding - so many people penned their own letters, revealing heartache, pain, triumphs, success, but one thing was common among all... the idea that things will get better. So, I thought that this experiment could be fun to do blog-style. I wrote a letter to 16 year old me and I'd like to share.
Dear 16-year-old Virginia,
You live in New York City! Don’t laugh at me… you do!
Know that it’s cool to be smart. Soak up all of the knowledge you can - read the books for English, some of them are actually good! And, it will help keep your stress levels down about those "pop quizzes"! Understand that even though you’re not in the “popular” crowd now, your crowd will be the one a lot of people envy after college. Those friends you’ve had since elementary school will still be the best friends you will ever have. Understand that no matter what is done or said, they will always be there for you. Use them, rely on them - they are your strength. And, be there for them in return.. always.
I know you feel like you have to please everybody all of the time - but, realize that it's okay to upset people sometimes. There's no way to make everybody happy - just make yourself happy - the ones that matter will be content with just that.
The family is the greatest thing you will have in life - the relationships (and friendships) you build with them are priceless - you’ll find they’re actually really cool.
You’ll like your sister, eventually. Yes, really.
When it comes to relationships, I wouldn’t want to stray you away from what actually happens because valuable character building occurs during those times - but trust your heart. Stay attuned to the red flags and most importantly, don’t punish yourself for something you couldn’t control.
In college, go crazy - Go out and have fun, stay up all night, drink too much, and make friends with everyone you meet. That way, you won’t feel like you wasted 4 years of precious time waiting for your life to start. Start now.
Though I can’t say that “everything is perfect now!”—Do know this: you are coming into a time in your life where things will be confusing and nightmarish, but you are stronger than you think. Laugh often and surround yourself with people you love. If you do that.. nothing can go wrong.
You’re cool, but don’t dye your hair so much - you’ll ruin it.
The cooler, 23-year-old, you.
So, now I challenge you, few readers - what would you say to your 16-year-old self? Feel free to leave your letters in the comments, or email them to me - I'll post them anonymously if you so choose.