Dear Younger Me,

You do you.

Encourage yourself. Continue being the spitfire you are, because one day the fire will burn out. You may not get to be an astronaut, but keep working towards it. Don’t let anyone discourage you.

Don’t listen to bullies and haters. Don’t sweat the small stuff. At your age, it’s almost all small stuff. Don’t let those assholes in high school get you down. High school will pass, and you’ll be better for it.

Find some friends who love you for who you are, not who you think you should be. Those are the friends that will last a lifetime. You’re going to think you found these friends in high school, but you’ll be wrong.

Be more flexible, but don’t compromise. Keep speaking up for what you know is right. Be nice to everyone. You’re doing a great job on that front.

Don’t invest so much in boys. You don’t need a boyfriend to feel beautiful or loved or wanted or needed.

Listen more. Trust more. Open up. Tell the truth.

But also, learn when to shut up.

Keep skiing! Quit volleyball sooner, and pick up a tennis racquet sooner. Trust me on this one.

Try to try new things, but it’s okay stick with what you like. Even if that means watching the same 7 movies over and over again forever.

Accept advice from your parents. They actually do know more than you. A lot more.

Appreciate the sacrifices your parents made on all fronts. Not just to put you through school, but to actually get along after divorce and re-marriages. Not until you’re older will you understand how hard that was. And they did it for you.

ASK. FOR. HELP. Seriously. You’re going to need a lot of help, mentally, physically, emotionally. Be brave. Stay strong, but know it’s okay to say when you can’t be strong any longer.

Keep writing in those diaries. You may be embarrassed when you re-read them after finding them in moving boxes many, many years later, but keep writing. It’s what kept you sane when you had no one to confide in.

Work hard. Play harder. Love school. Love life.

Don’t be a dick.

Love yourself. Always accept who you are in the moment. This will be a lifetime struggle.

And for fuck’s sake, learn how to clean. Do your own laundry and put it away. Do the dishes. Vacuum. Sweep. Pick up your room. Dust. Wash the dogs. Plant a garden. CLEAN THE FUCKING HOUSE. Otherwise, as an adult you’ll find yourself under piles of dirty dishes and laundry in your own house wondering how it got this bad. Trust me on this one.

Always,
Natalie

PS: Just in case… You know all that bitching you do about liking “boy stuff” like video games and comic books and space and science, and how clothing, toys, and games are always only marketed for boys? Keep loving all that nerd stuff, and maybe start a business marketing that stuff to girls. By 2010 you will be one happy, nerdy millionaire.

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This is Part 2 (Day 8) of a series called April Love Letters, from Susannah Conway. Find out more at http://www.susannahconway.com/april/. April 8th’s prompt was “Dear Younger Self”. Read Part One, “Dear Love” here.

Want to know more about Natalie? Tweet her @leiashotfirst, check out her Instagram, or visit her design portfolio at http://behance.net/leiashotfirst. Sometimes she writes things here on Medium, sometimes she writes about science for her job. She currently lives in Albuquerque, NM.

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