Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Letter to my 18 year old self

I was recently impressed by a short story by Julie Orringer in her book "How
to Breathe Underwater". Yes it sounds like it will be a boring blog post,
but it's not, I've got some blog gold in here. Anyways, she wrote a letter
to her middle school self. This got me thinking, if I could go back & say
something to a younger Sara, what year would I pick? What would I tell
her? Here is my letter to my 18 year old self.

Dear Sara,

You may think that you can push your friend's car in the snow for two blocks
down a busy street. You can't. Try anyways.

You will be devastated the first time your boyfriend starts dating your
roommate. This will happen to you a lot, basically with all of your
boyfriends except for one who wasn't interesting enough to your roommates.
Instead of moving out or ruining your friendships, adjust. Institute a new tax
"If you take my boyfriend, I get to take a pair of your shoes, of my choice".
This tax will never let you down, & will sustain you long after you realize what
a loser your previous boyfriend is.

You aren't the best judge of character. I can't really blame you, you
are 18. Here is a sure fire test. Keep the people who you go to when
the big spiders invade the house. I'm not talking normal spiders, you can
kill those yourselves. I'm talking the makers of "Arachnophobia" saying "Hmm who knew spiders had stingers? Really, I think that is a little over the top,
not at all believable". In that moment, the people you call to help defend
life & home, keep those people around you..

Someone will introduce you to a cartoon that says basically "Think back five years. You were an idiot. Five years from now you will be thinking the same thing, don't have any permanent reminders of that". Hold onto that feeling. Five years from now, you will be an idiot, but you still won't know it.

When you fall in love with the 6'7" tall basketball player wearing the orange
shirt, talk to him. This will save you a semester of longing when you find
out he is not what you thought & he didn't even pick out the shirt himself.

Your parents are not lame. You are not different from every other kid
who thinks they know better than the generation before them. You know the
four orange velvet couches in the living room that you love so much? You have
their generation to thank for that.

Above all, when your guidance counselor says, you need to decide on what
school you are going to next, what you are doing with your life, & you have
seconds to decide this, don't listen. Keep telling people that you will be
a princess when you grow up. Tell this counselor "I am 18. Everyone
else is faking it. No one here knows what they are doing. If they
do, they are delusional & will change careers the second they graduate, or be
unemployable altogether. You probably stay awake at night wishing you weren't a college counselor. It's ok that I will have 5 majors in 2 years. That will
get me to what I really want to be, wicked awesome. Don't punish me
just because I openly admit I have no idea what I'm doing".

People will scoff when you stop eating cafeteria food & decide to go on a
diet of ice cream & cookie dough for every meal for 2 months straight. You
will maintain that ice cream & cookie dough is lower in fat & has more
nutritional value. You will lose 10 lbs. This will be the only time in your life
when you can get away with this. Never repeat this diet again. Enjoy it
while you can.

Sell your textbooks back. You will never need them again. Spend the
money on candy.


Future Sara

PS We will not all be living on the moon in 2005. You will actually still
need to have a job.

What would you write to your former self, what year would you pick?


LEstes65 said...

Oh my GOODNESS! This was hysterical, totally touching and very poignant all at once. You are a letter-writing genius. I don't know that I could pick one age to write to. If I could cheat and write a letter to my younger self at each point of life-crisis (dad's death at 12, step-family at 13, birth-mom shows up at 20), thath would be useful. But I think if I chose one age, it would be 20 or 21. And I'd warn my younger self not to waste so much time trying to be in the perfect "cool" scene. To have more self respect and not sleep around. Not to waste years "safe dating" people not good enough for me. And not to spend all my money on unworthy people just to try to make them happy (read "make them like me").

You rock.

Stacy said...

That's great. I love the part about your ice cream diet, and the boyfriend thing is so horrible/funny.

If I wrote a letter to a younger me, I'd write to my twelve-year-old self, remind her that everyone feels like a freak in junior high and that's okay. I'd leave out the part about junior highers actually being right about being freaks.

Girl Friday said...

This is an awesome letter! I did sort of the reverse of this when I was a freshman in high school and my teacher mailed them to us our freshman year of college. It was horribly embarrassing. I may have to steal this idea from you. Of course I'll give full credit and linkage!

ellesappelle said...

Great letter! I thought the advice about the character test was particularly sound.

If I wrote such a letter... this isn't particularly funny so I apologise but I think I would write to my thirteen year old self and tell her to appreciate her childhood and her mum before her mum gets cancer... but then at the same time, would I really want my thirteen year old self to know that it was coming?

Virginia said...

I absolutely love this! You've motivated me to write the same type of letter...except to my 22 year old self (which I explain in my blog). Fear not though! I give credit where credit is due! :)