Friday, June 10, 2011

Letter to my sixteen-year-old self

So, I was reading Feministing today, and came across a letter that Chloe Angyal wrote to the sixteen-year-old version of herself.

Like a lot of the people who commented on her post, I was inspired to write one, too, even though I've already posted a list of things I wish I could tell my sixteen-year-old self.

At sixteen, I was between my sophomore and junior years of high school. That summer, I attended a week-long writing seminar that completely blew my nerdy, lonely mind. And then I spent the time before school started up again hiding in my basement, moping because I missed it.

I lacked political views back then, but that's not because I was apathetic. I was just raised by immigrants who couldn't vote anyway and therefore, didn't bother paying attention to what was going on around them. I was curious about things, though, and tried to form an opinion based on what felt right to me. But because I hadn't been raised in a politically-conscious household, I didn't trust myself too much, so kept my mouth shut. (It's hard to picture that version of me now, isn't it?)

A few things have remained the same: I loved salmon, Tracy Chapman, and The Golden Girls. I wouldn't go near red meat. My favorite color was green. And even though I hadn't discovered Margaret Atwood yet, I still had quite good taste in books (that's the year I read _The Color Purple_).

So anyway, the letter:

Dear 16-year-old Amelia/Amy,

Even though TV is generally pretty lame, I'm really glad that you spend so much time watching Daria; she's a good role model to have. But please, please, please do me (and Mom!) a favor and stop talking like her. Monotone doesn't suit you.

I start with that because holy shit, you have a lot of energy. Use it to do and make good things. Keep writing, singing, and playing the piano. Learn how to play the guitar, too; that's one thing I wish I had gotten around to doing.

Be nice to people. (You're very kind to animals, but I don't think you've got people down quite yet.) That's probably because you spend a lot of time alone. And I don't blame you--six years in the future, you'll still lack the desire to interact with most of the people in Grosse Pointe. But know that there's a world beyond the GP city limit; you're about to meet some of the most incredible people ever--at the Controlled Burn Seminar for Young Writers.

Don't let your classmates make you feel shitty about not having a driver's license yet. Their opinions don't matter, because in six years, you won't be in touch with most of them anyway. You will pass your road test eventually, but that won't change your feelings on driving too much. I walk/ride my bike as much as possible these days, and because gas is so fucking expensive now, people tend not to give me a hard time about it.

Nail-biting is gross, but I'm not going to tell you to stop doing it, because I haven't kicked the habit yet. And besides, I don't think you feel the way you do just because you're a teenager. Instead, your anxiety has a lot more to do with just being human, and alive and aware of things. Trust yourself. You wouldn't have such ambitious, brilliant friends if they didn't see a little bit of that in you, too.

Keep your eyes and heart open. Things will really suck sometimes. People you love and trust will hurt and abandon you. But know that the things that bring out the worst in some will bring out the best in others. Keep them around.

Also, it's okay to be an atheist. You believe in all kinds of good things. God doesn't have to be one of them.

Pet Wylee and give her a dog treat for me--I miss her. And please give Mac some catnip for me--he's kind of old and boring and sleeps a lot these days.

22-year-old Amelia/Amy (who is still referred to as Amelia by some and Amy by others)

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