I just wanted to check in with you and see how things are going. You’ve got a big life ahead of you, and I thought it might be nice to give you some advice. I know you like doing everything on your own, but I hope you’ll take some of my words and put them away in a little box for later. Trust me, if you could know what I know now…
You think you are an adult, but 19 is really young, and you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. I want you to have fun and enjoy your recently acquired freedom, but please try to take college seriously. All that money you’re spending now will come back to haunt you. That stuff you’re buying won’t make you happy, but I’ve gotta let you do it so you’ll learn. Those school loans will have to be paid back someday, so don’t forget.
Your heart will be broken many times along the way. Don’t let those guys make you think any different of yourself. Take the good stuff with you- like all that new music you just learned about? Yeah, that. I know it feels like the end of the world, but it’s not. When you finally come to know the real you, you will use those experiences to build yourself into a beautifully intelligent woman. No one can ever take that from you. So, girl, just keep loving. Life is boring without love, and who wants to live without feeling it? You’ll die every single time he leaves, but it’s worth it.
It’s OK to feel lost. That’s the best time to discover things about yourself. Take chances and move to different cities. Don’t be afraid to move away from your family. You have to live your life, too. Be scared in that little mountain town you moved across the country for. Go out and make your own friends; have your own life; be what you want to be. Cherish those Spring mornings on the groomers, and hug those gorgeous afternoons spent bouldering in Bishop. It’s OK to give up everything and live in a tent- don’t let anyone tell you that’s a bad idea. All this craziness is for a reason, love.
I’m not sure how to get you ready for what happens next. Nothing can prepare you for the death of a parent. Just remember you did what you could. Don’t dwell on all the ‘I should haves’. Know your mother loved you more than anything in this world, and she understood why you had to go. Your life will be turned upside down, but it will get better. Don’t be afraid to cry. Don’t be afraid to feel her in strange moments. Don’t be ashamed for losing your shit years later, in the middle of your job, when someone reminds you of her. Never make excuses for this. You will be moved.
Love is a strange thing. It makes you do stupid shit. Losing things and people and former lives can make you feel like you’re losing your mind. Get your shit together as soon as you can. Let your friends help you. Don’t be a dick because you’re sad. Acknowledge those feelings, feel them, and move on. Don’t ask me why, just fucking do it.
I wish I could tell you finding a job was easy. It’s not, and you’re gonna have a hard time with that. You’re smart, and will have a lot of experience by the time you get to this point. Don’t stop. Don’t be afraid to use connections. Everyone else does it, so jump in there and tell people who you know. Be nice to those people, too, because burning bridges is a terrible waste. You’ll burn a lot in the next 10 years, by the way. Apologize when you can. Don’t let that shit fuck up your success. Own up to your mistakes.
When you make it to your thirties, don’t be sad because it’s not what you had envisioned for yourself in 1999. You will be a grown ass woman. You will know who you are. You will not take shit from anyone. You will finally realize you are beautiful just the way you are. You will find ways to express yourself- maybe become a bike racer? A writer? Possibly dabble in photography a bit? If someone doesn’t like what you’re doing, you don’t need them. You’ll go back to school a couple times, and still won’t know what you want to be when you grow up. You’ll fall in and out of love, and bounce back quicker than you ever have before, because you finally realize how short life actually is. You’ll know exactly what you want in another person and for yourself. You’ll learn how to say no, because you learned the hard way- no one will take care of you but YOU.
You’re going to be OK, kid. Just take it one day at a time.
Dear 1999, please be careful on your journey. I’m looking forward to meeting you someday.