Our next guest in the letter to my YA self series is Courtney Young. Her debut novel, After The Woods, will be published soon by Curiosity Quills Press. From her profile, "I love reading YA but am not opposed to other genres. I have also dabbled in romance and psychological thrillers. I live for the theatre, camping, traveling, writing, photography, reading, and twitter. Too many hobbies and not enough time!"
There are so many things that I want to tell you including some mistakes that I wish I could tell you to avoid. Instead of giving you step-by-step directions or a how-to guide on how to live for the next 10 years, I am sending you insight. The year is 2012… 12 years in the future. Don’t let the year freak you out; the world is not going to end in 2012. The hype is similar to Y2K, which you have recently experienced already. It was quite silly wasn’t it?
You are 17 and the year is 2000. Your life is changing at a rapid rate; even your appearance is changing. Puberty is an evil B-I-T-…. but we all go through it. That is one of the many joys of becoming an adult.
Your senior year of high school will be your favorite. You’ll do things that you didn’t think was possible. Remember when you didn’t get chosen to be on the soccer team your freshman year and you cried for weeks? Well, you really show them you are good enough to play. You keep that promise to yourself and make the team and even continue to play on co-ed teams a few years after high school. Enjoy the strength and being athletic. You are in the best shape of your life!
The summer of 2001 will be one of the best summers of your life. Treasure each moment as it happens. You’ll fall in love for the first time and even kiss a boy. You’ll kiss that boy a lot. It is a simple relationship that you will later term as your first "puppy love". It is true what they say; a person never forgets their first love. You do sweet little things for one another and you honestly think that you will be together forever and ever and ever. But you should remove the blinders sweetheart because your heart will be broken. The breakup makes you physically sick. Don’t be cruel or say mean things after it is over. If you are hateful, you will push people away and some of those friendships will never return. Don’t be too upset! You do find love when you are least looking for it. You will spend the rest of your life with him. He loves you when you don’t love yourself. He laughs at your stupid jokes. Yes, even the really stupid ones.
Quit thinking that you are not good enough to be loved by anyone. You have so much self-hate and for no reason. You think cruel things about yourself and there is no excuse for it. You wouldn’t say those mean things to your closest friend so why do you insist upon thinking them about yourself? You constantly think you are ugly or not good enough. I look back at pictures of you in 2000 – 2001 and I wonder why I ever thought those hateful things. You are beautiful. You think you are fat? Get over it. You are not. You are fit. You are a runner. You are an athelete. You are going to have to learn to get over your insecurities and love yourself. This will be something you struggle with for many years so start now.
People you love will pass away. Let me stress how important it is to cherish those that are in your life at this very moment. Some of your friends will not grow old with you and others you won’t associate with in later years. Losing people is inevitable and it is not easy. I can’t tell you how to get over the loss. I can only tell you to take your time grieving. Time really does heal wounds and one day you will be able to smile at the memories you shared together instead of cry. I promise.
Quit being embarrassed of who you are. So many times you get embarrassed over the silliest things. When you are 28, you will not care so much. Stop over analyzing conversations and feeling stupid for telling people how you feel. It is ok to laugh at your own jokes. Be YOU. People like you and want to be around YOU. I can happily say that you have not pretended to be someone you are not for a few years, be proud of that and stay true to yourself.
Having self-confidence and being comfortable in your own skin will be very important in the future, start practicing that now also. It is ok to be a square but don't try to judge people so much. Nothing you say will change your friends who want to drink, smoke, and have tons of sex. Just because you aren't doing it (literally) doesn't mean that you are better than them. Just be their friend as best as you can, they rely on your comfort when things suck.
I now laugh at how squarish and modest I was. It was cute and defiantly not a bad thing.
Stand up for what is right without being a smart mouth or rude. Your mouth can and will get you in trouble. With that being said, turning a blind eye is not the best solution either. Pick and choose your battles. You will learn that some aren't worth fighting and others you fight way too hard. Choosing your battles will be a task but worth it and less stress. It really is true that if you give someone an inch they will take a mile.
You are independent but sometimes you are a little too independent. It is ok to ask people to help you. It is also ok to tell people no. If you do not learn those two things you will be taken advantage of over the next few years. NO and PLEASE HELP. Burn those into your mind.
Your parents are never going to change. As much as you want them to go to every high school or college event, they are not going to. This upsets you and will never stop bothering you. It still bothers me today but you have to forgive them for their faults. Don’t let their lack of public support stop you from following your dreams and performing. Although they aren’t in the audience or stands, doesn’t mean they don’t care. They aren’t perfect or social.
College is great. Think long and hard about what YOU what to be whenever you “grow up”. You will struggle. Let me say it again, YOU WILL STRUGGLE. You will live day-to-day and paycheck to paycheck through college. You will have your lights turned off; have nothing to eat in the refrigerator, and no gas in your car but you survive. Those moments make you realize that you are a fighter and you push through them. I look back at those moments and realize they built character. Having a not-so-perfect young adult life makes you appreciate things much more when you are older.
Don’t let people’s negative thoughts bring you down. Don’t let anything get you down. Ever. You make it through all the rough patches. Even when you don’t know how you are going to make it, you somehow do. Don’t give up. Don’t you ever give up. I stress it but I know you aren’t going to, it isn’t in your character.
2001 will be different for many reasons. America will be different. The world is changing. Make your decisions wisely, I am the person I am today because of the choices you are making now.
Remember that life isn’t all about winning, getting the lead part, having millions of dollars, being popular, thin, or looking cool. Life is about living and enjoying every moment. You only get to be a teenager for a few years and then you grow up and have grown up responsibility. DREAM BIG! Have fun and go get em’ tiger.
You are strong, independent, and unstoppable and I love you.
Your NOT-SO-OLD 28 year old self,
CoUrTnEy (yes, I am aware that every other letter is cute)
p.s. Remember when you thought 30 was old?
p.s.s. In an alternate universe, this letter is really sent back to the past to my 17 year old self. Crazy.
Thank you Courtney! Such great advice. I love this one, "Having a not-so-perfect young adult life makes you appreciate things much more when you are older." So true.