Your life is on the cusp of change—as you’re all too aware. You’re afraid of the unknown: where you’ll go to college, if you’ll make friends, if your new friends will replace your current ones, if you’ll ever find anyone who makes you as happy as your best friends do right now, if you’ll even still be friends with them in a year. And those are all valid fears. Spoiler alert: you’ll be worrying about all those things in four years when you get ready to graduate college, too.
I’m not going to tell you not to worry, because that would be pointless and you won’t listen. But I am going to tell you to embrace the change that comes. You’re going to do swimmingly. Don’t be afraid to waltz into college and be yourself: be loud; laugh too much; write all the heartfelt letters and make all the sentimental PowerPoints that you want to; be the “mom friend”; get teary-eyed when you talk about “Harry Potter”; raise your hand and make a comment about the play you had to read. People WILL love you for all of your quirks. You are not too much for people, and, if someone thinks so, then they’re not enough for you.
Change is going to grab you by the ankles and drag you kicking and screaming into the next chapter of your life whether you like it or not. I know you think nothing can be better than right now: you have amazing friends, great teachers, a finely polished routine—but, if it’s possible, it gets even better…or at least equally good in a different way. You make new friends (and you keep in touch with the old ones who matter); you excel in your fields; you get jobs and work experience that you actually love; you get so many new and exciting opportunities (I don’t want to spoil it all for you, but it’s pretty great!). Just go into this new experience the way you always do: head first and faking it ‘til you make it!
And here’s the thing: right now, you’re a high school senior who hates change and goodbyes. Four years from now you’ll be a college senior who hates change and goodbyes (some things don’t change). But you’ll be a little more relaxed about it, because, to quote Harry Potter, “I knew I could do it all this time, because I’d already done it.”
What you’re dealing with now WILL help you deal with things in the future. I promise. I’ve been there.
Much love, and don’t kill Eric. He’s useful sometimes.
**Editor’s Note** This story contains profanity that has been edited.
You’re 17. It’s not easy for you. It’s not easy at all. You stand in the mirror at night and stare at yourself thinking you’re fat, ugly, not good enough. You listen to those people in school who call you hippo, pizza face, hooker. You cry because you just want to be liked. You pinch the skin on your stomach and legs, you hate yourself. It sucks, but you’re going to survive.
One day you’re going to grow up and be who you always wanted to be. Their hateful opinions will not matter, and they won’t bother you. In fact, you never think of them at all. One day you’re going to finish high school and be finished. One day those people will be nothing but a distant memory that you never revisit. You grow, you learn, you change, and you learn to love everything about yourself, including that stomach that you pinched and hated so much. It’s just a stomach and everyone has one.
Remember this: “Stop looking for flaws. Stop looking for differences. You are perfect. You are more than enough. You are the best thing that has ever happened to you. And you are f—— beautiful.” One day you’ll live by these words.
At 17 you had a warped view of how love was supposed to be. You thought that arguing, name calling, and the occasional slap to the face or pulling of limbs just happened in a relationship when you had disagreements. You thought that you could change that person who was broken, but you didn’t realize you were becoming broken in the process. You finally let go and it was one of the hardest things. You gave up on having a future with another human being. You didn’t believe that love really existed. You struggled with depression, but you started to truly get to know yourself. You began to see your strengths and you began to enjoy who you were. You found someone at the age of 21, who loves you with every fiber of their being and wants spend the rest of their life with you. You found the love that you didn’t think existed, and at age 24 you will be married to your best friend.
“Somebody that I Used to Know” is a weekly series featuring advice to your 17-year-old self from, JSU students, faculty and community. Sometimes funny, sometimes deep and sometimes all too relatable, “Somebody that I Used to Know” aims to bring us all together through the trials and tribulations of growing up. If you’re interested in submitting your story, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Somebody that I Used to Know” in the subject line.