Dear 16-year-old Sierra Ann,
Hello, there! I’m 26-year-old you. Let’s chat. I’d offer you coffee, but you don’t like that yet. Here’s a Dr Pepper and a Pop Tart.
I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately, mostly about how you would be so disappointed in me if you knew me. Let me tell you a little bit about future-you. (Me? The pronouns for this are going to be tough. I just know it.) I’m in no way scene/emo/goth/whichever phase you’re in right now. I stopped pretending to like metal about five years ago. I stopped dying my hair fancy colors two years ago. I know. I’m a liberal, slightly-agnostic skeptic who does closed captioning for a living and watches a lot of British TV. I’m still fat. I probably weigh 50 pounds more than you do. I’m pretty happy, for the most part.
You don’t believe I’m really you, huh? Well, if I weren’t really you, how would I know that you secretly like Nsync, even though your life revolves around the Backstreet Boys? Or that you pretend to hate everything, put on a mean face, and cut people down just to get to people before they can get to you? That you want to be a writer one day. Or maybe a web designer. You’re not sure yet.
See? Told you.
Fun fact: You’ve evolved into a slightly Type-A person! Congratulations! Here’s a list of things I want to tell you.
1. You won’t be getting your license until, like, two months after you turn 18. Sorry.
2. Good news! In 2012, you still love the Beatles and still hate Nickelback with everything in you!
3. You’re going to go to college 700 miles from home. Twice. It’s pretty exciting. You won’t have a good job at all afterwards, but you will have the best time.
4. You wear dresses to work! You do! Sometimes even not to work and just because! Aah!
5. Those standardized tests you’ve been blowing off since, like, 7th grade? They count for something. Shocking, right? I had no idea until my senior year of college. Those decide whether you’re up in advanced/gifted classes, so please try. Marking everything as “C” just so you can read Les Mis isn’t the best idea you’ve ever had, although you would think your teachers would notice what you were doing. You’re smarter than probably 90% of your class. Stop acting like you’re too cool to be smart and get good grades. Learn something.
6. There’s this thing called Facebook. It’s like Bolt.com but a shit ton of middle-aged housewives playing on virtual farms and sending around the same stupid forwards you keep getting in your email now. Here’s what I want you to do: INVENT FACEBOOK. We need the money. Thanks.
7. Please learn to love and accept yourself. I know things are hard at school. Unfortunately, you will get bullied until the day you graduate. Your current best friends will turn on you the first day of 12th grade. I’m sorry. Keep your head up. You’re strong, beautiful, and intelligent. I wouldn’t lie to you. Me. Us.
8. You and your sister will like each other one day! You’ll even be friends! Lainie is, what, six right now? She’s going to be one of your best buds one day, but I’m sure that’s not a shock. She’s been your Mini-Me since she was two. I’m not sure if you know this yet, but she also has a sister, who grows up to be exactly like your little sister. You’ll like her, too!
9. Believe it or not, you are going to become one of those mega-religious nutbags you hate. As much as I don’t want to admit it, you need this period of your life. You have to go through it. It makes up so much of who you are today.
10. Two people who mean a lot to you are going to die while you’re in college. I won’t tell you who. Spoilers. It’s a fixed point in time. You can’t change it. It’s going to be incredibly difficult. You are going to end up a basket case after the second one. You’ll find yourself shaking and sobbing and certain you are going to have a heart attack out of nowhere, several times a day, every day for over a year. I promise you it will get better. Please don’t beat yourself up over how you hadn’t spoken to one in so long and how you’re certain you could have prevented the other. Nothing is your fault. They both loved you. I’m quite a few years out from both deaths. I still have breakdowns from time to time. We will get through this.
I think that covers everything. You are a fantastic person. I love you. Really! I bet you never thought you’d say that about yourself, but it’s true!