I don’t really know what to tell you. Maybe that’s because we’re not so far removed from each other, you and I. At twenty years, I’m still just as directionless as you are now. I’m still scared shitless about the future, probably more so now that the dreaded “Real World” is just around the corner. It seems that four years’ time will not have cured you of these worries.In 2012, the one thing you have going for you is that you’re not constantly beating yourself up over the little things so much anymore. While you still have guilt issues over things you cannot change, you have learned to talk about them. About time, right? Finally at twenty, you will have learned to communicate. That’s one thing you have to work on right now. Because I know you’re keeping it all inside. It’s going to spill over, but don’t let it ruin you.
In the space of a year, you’re going to be a wreck. I know you don’t feel like anyone understands you, but that’s not what will break you. You don’t understand yourself – that is what will ultimately pull you under to that irretrievable place your father is relentlessly fighting. There’s no way to avoid that downfall. I could tell you to stay away from a certain boy, but he’s not the reason you find yourself in this pit. In fact, this same boy gives you some good advice for the future, advice that you will return to again and again: “You can’t just have regret.” Meaning, you can’t change the past. I can’t change you, even if this letter could reach you. It’s something you have to experience for yourself. I’m not sure if I believe that everything happens for a reason. But this period in your life – between now and the first three months into your seventeenth year – is inevitable. Just know that tomorrow makes today worth living. And after the struggle, after your friends have pulled you up again, write about it. Your writing grounds you. Your writing is one of the most important things in your life. It keeps you sane. Well, as close to sane as you’ll ever be. That was a joke. I forgot how you lose your sense of humor around this time. Try to laugh a little. Every day. Laugh until it hurts – until it overrides a different kind of pain.
Through your writing, you can find out who you are, and who you want to become. I can’t tell you that you have it all figured out when you’re older. You’re still searching for answers, but you’ll learn more every day, exercising that creative little brain of yours. Cling to those stories in your head. They preserve you.
Another thing, hold onto your friends from high school. I want you to know that we (you know who they are) still keep in touch. They’re still there for you. They still seek your advice. They still love you. You don’t need them anymore, but the bond you formed in high school is too strong to break. Don’t doubt them for a minute. They are your sisters, and like I said, they do love you.
Speaking of love, I guess the most important advice I can give you right now is love yourself. Self discovery is a bitch. You’ll learn things about yourself that you hate. You’re too sensitive. You have a co-dependent relationship with your father. You need love like you need oxygen, and you see that as your greatest flaw. Your face gives every little fleeting feeling away. You’re obsessive and a perfectionist. These are just a few qualities you will come to loathe. But those things also make you… well, you. And guess what? No one is going anywhere, at least not the people who matter. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Smart guy.
You still have a lot of work to do with your family, particularly dad. He isn’t perfect, and he has more than a few problems, but you have to push your resentment aside. You won’t achieve this for years to come. You still have a rocky relationship with him, especially after you find the courage to move in with mom permanently. But he loves you, even if he’s too drunk to say it most of the time. It’s that love that traps you, though, and makes you feel guilty. It’s that love that makes you live with him too long. When you remove yourself from that living situation, you feel relieved. But distance doesn’t make you forget, and it certainly doesn’t fix anything. You can’t change him – you never could – but make an effort to call. Tell him you love him back, because he needs that confirmation even more than you. Don’t convince yourself you’ve outgrown him. Remember that he is responsible for giving you life, and while you can’t save him, you can remind him that not everyone in the entire world is out to get him. Tell him he’s not alone.
You’re not alone either. Think about the people around you, the ones who don’t mind. Think about them long and hard. And love them fiercely without apology. Never hold back.
P.S. You’re a swan.