You’re one of the ones that leaves

Dear 16-year-old Shannon,
A few things:
•    You’re currently obsessed with Mariah Carey and have been for nearly 10 years.
•    You live & breathe for the NY Giants.
•    You’ve “recently” (about 2 years ago) become obsessed with Matchbox Twenty & Rob Thomas.    •    Your favorite shows are Friends & Seinfeld.
•    You have a huge crush on Leonardo DiCaprio.
•    Your close friends include Rose, Cat, Kate, Pooja, Nancy, Jen, and Jeff.
These things don’t really change much in the next 12 years. I’m glad you had such good taste at 16.
Some advice I would give you:
•    Start thinking about college. You’re guidance counselor at school stinks and won’t be very helpful, and your parents just don’t know much about it because they didn’t do it. I know you don’t have the internet at home but take a walk over to the library and do some research on your own.  Or at least take some time at Daddy’s this weekend and look it up on his computer. Next year (junior year), you should start looking at colleges.  No decisions need to be made yet but this will help you make the decision when it’s time.
•    That guy you started dating last November, well, he’ll make you cry a lot over the next couple of years.  It’s okay though.  It helps make you the person you become.  I don’t want to ruin the surprise or anything, but in a little over a year you’ll meet the man you’ll marry.
•    Don’t worry about making mistakes.  You’re a bit of a perfectionist mostly because you don’t want to let your parents down.  It’s okay to make some mistakes.  Not big ones—like ones that will land you a Lifetime Original or an NBC Monday Night movie.  But some are okay.  You put too much pressure on yourself.
•    You do this already, but I’d like to stress this. Have a lot of fun. You’re 16. Act like it. The memories you’re creating with your friends will last a lifetime. Enjoy every second of living so close to them.  It won’t be long before many of you are in different parts of the country.
Spoiler alert: No matter how much you love NJ, you’re one of the ones that leave. It’s okay but take full advantage of everything NJ has to offer—even being just a train ride away from the greatest city in the world.  One day you will meet a lot of people who have never been to NYC but “always wanted to go.”
•    Save some money. You’re spoiled and for birthdays, Christmas, and graduations, you get a lot of money. Don’t blow it all.  At the very least, take half and put it in a savings account. Don’t touch it. You may need it while in college or even further down the road.
•    And most importantly, know that you’re beautiful. You’re about to embark on a rather awkward stage. You’ll come out the other end, a bit of a knockout FYI. But without me telling you this, you won’t know it. You’re self image isn’t terrible but it isn’t as good as it should be. Stop comparing yourself to others around you and stop letting boys’ “disinterest” in you dictate how you feel about yourself.  Even just 12 short years from now, you’ll work pretty hard to try to get that teenage body back. Appreciate it while you have it.
Now you know what I know.
xoxo,

28-year-old Shannon
I won’t sign my current last name so that I don’t give anything away

PS. Apple Computers and Google. Invest some of that saved money in these. Seriously.

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