Sweet 16, I have so many things to share with you but have been mindful to not to give too much. We really don’t want to change the course of things in any major way. You actually end up doing quite well. I will say quickly that your hair, in all its big glory, is going out of style fast. I know, hard to believe! You should go to a stylist, the one your step-mother knows, really talk to her about your hair. The sooner we move on from this teasing thing the better.
Our birthday makes us 16 before other people in our grade. You could be driving and working in your freshman year of HS… I mean I know you’re not but just a few suggestions. Driving and cash would be helpful with several things around the corner.
In all seriousness, you are at a time in life before some big life altering decisions have to be made. Future you will always look back on this time as the easy fun time before things get real. Enjoy it, make goofy noises with your BFF in the hall way and love the feeling of the cool-kids spot in the back of the school bus. You’ll need these memories later, they serve us well. It would be nice to make a few subtle changes that could really help us out though. The boy, yep that boy, stop needing him. He doesn't define you and surprisingly not only does he not want to but its the thing he dislikes the most.
Also the lying, I know it’s hard, but you have to stop. You’ll learn much later that you do it as a coping defense. I know you; you’re reading this and saying ‘I do not lie’and I know you aren't doing it much right now because things are good, but you did and you are about to start again. Hon, I am you and know that you are lying to yourself most of all. It’s hard to believe right now but you are good enough without the extra added rewrites to things you keep giving. If you could use the creative rewrites you give to your life and put them on paper with fictional characters it will serve us well later on. I would appreciate it actually; I know you’re afraid of not being good enough but if you start writing the way you want to now I would consider it a personal favor.
Take the time to listen when your friends are talking to you. Again, you are so concerned with if they like you or not that you are not hearing them. I can’t name names because I don’t want it to change your relationships and nothing you do can actually change the events but as of right now you know someone that’s been abused, several actually but someone in particular you’d never expect. You know someone who is considering suicide, and they’ll do it. You know someone who will battle cancer and someone who will face every day with a chronic illness. You know people who will live abroad, run marathons, report the news and become soldiers. These are real people that you have been given the opportunity to get to know, don’t waste it. Oh, and take more pictures.
You should pay attention and really promote safe sex. A lot of people you know are going to end up having babies in the next few years. None of them will regret the amazing children they have and maybe that is exactly how it is supposed to be, but still… no condom no sex. Just an idea…
Be kind to your kid sister. Being a sibling is actually a very important role and she wants you, needs you, to pay attention. She is a great kid with a big heart that only grows bigger in time. Oh, you’re going to have another sister too. We will address that in your 18th birthday letter.
You are about to leave your small town, and I mean a lot sooner than you think. It will be abrupt and you don’t have the coping skills for it. Part of you is about to break, I am sorry but back then I think I would have wanted to be prepared so it’s the least I can do to give you a heads up. It won’t last long, well forever to you but your Sophomore and Junior year in reality. When you come back everything and everyone will have grown and changed during the time you weren't there. When you realize this another part will break and to be honest if we don’t find a way to cope a part of us will be frozen and confused about people and expectations for a long time. Find words for what is going on; say them, write them but most of all share them. It would be a good habit.
By the way, your parents (including step parents) are real people, they have had complicated relationships and life experiences. You can talk to them. If you tell them how you feel (not the dramatic rewrite that sounds like a slightly more marketable after school special version of how you feel) it might be easier for them to act in your best interest. You can’t embellish, act, erupt and shut down and expect people to understand who you are.
Just so you know, keep on being a hopeless romantic. You really will be swept off your feet by a good looking faithful man who will love you not only despite all your flaws and Carrie-isms but crazy enough he loves you for them. He will support you, forgive you and cherish you. It doesn't mean it’s all easy, but when you love someone and they love you back it isn't chaotic or a battle of wills. So please say goodbye to the wrong ones a little faster.
I know, I know. You want to wrap this up so you can listen to the Top Five at nine and try and record your favorite song of the moment, maybe The Humpty Dance from Digital Underground or I Wanna Sex You Up from Color Me Badd, oh or is it Losing My Religion from REM. By the way you still know all the words and get supper giddy when any of the songs you listen to now come on.
You are awesome!
Me, or You… whatever
PS I almost included a pic so you can see how things turn out but at 16 the image for real happily ever after might look a little… well not what you have in mind at 16. You’ll just have to wait and see.