So my friend Sarah and I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called “Mortified Nation”. It’s HILARIOUS. Essentially, it’s a show where willing participants read their journals/diaries/notebooks from when they were younger to an audience.
This inspired both me and Sarah to pull out those old boxes at the back of our closets and start reading what our 14-year-old-selves had to say. Sarah and I have been friends for just about 16 years, so it was the best thing to read what the pages in our diaries said. It was like we went back to that time & that place.
Needless to say, I was mortified at what my diaries said.
I was big on poetry apparently. Like I wrote a good rhyme, for sure. I wrote poems about boys; boys that I never dated; boys who never thought of me in a ~romantic~ light, ever; boys who probably didn’t even know me. I wrote poems about friends who betrayed me, family members who pissed me off, and teachers who annoyed me. I was really slaying the poem game. Then there were basic journal entries about how I am fat, stupid, obnoxious, etc. I was so hard on myself back then. Even though sometimes I am still hard on myself, I think if 16-year-old Annie was talking to me, I wouldn’t be able to handle it.
I also learned so much about myself and saw how far I’ve come from my deep, dark, poem writing days. I cannot speak for Sarah, but I think she might be able to say the same. I’ve come here to my blog, to address my 9, 13, 16, and even 19-year-old self. I’m here to tell her how she’s doing today, in 2016, and to thank her for being brave so long ago.
Dear 9-year-old-fraction-confused-Annie, homework and school are not stupid. I cannot stress this to you enough, my gurl. Keep working at the homework & someday fractions will seem like NOTHING compared to statistics or acoustic principles. And you’ll drop physics your senior year of college but guess what- you still graduate! I wish I had the work ethic I did when I was 5th grade when the biggest honor you could receive was the Presidential Academic Excellence Award (sorry to ruin the surprise but you get that too). Something I’ve learned these last 6 months of starting the process of applying to grad school again is that nothing is impossible so long as you keep trying. 5th grade math really is prepping you for your future. So pay attention. Oh, and stop yelling at your mom every time you go to the drug store and she doesn’t let you get a new Lisa Frank folder. It’s ok I promise you’ll survive. Also, you still know every word to “Aaron’s Party” and just listened to it today, actually.
Dear 12-year-old-“the-world-is-ending”-Annie, the challenges you had then prepared me for my challenges today. I appreciate your concern for the world, that’s really noble of you. I also appreciate you talking to the Lord through your journal where you also claim to hate your brothers and about 6 of your friends. But srsly, the world ain’t ending gurl; neither the actual world nor the small world you live in during the 7th grade. The way you handle every challenge you face is teaching you how to make decisions and control your emotions. I’m proud of you for not totally fighting your friend when she made fun of your mom for going to college. You should feel proud that your best friend came and sat next to you when you were crying at the table because everyone else was ignoring and being mean to you. In 10 years, you’ll realize how strong you were. AND HEY, the gal who made fun of your sneakers in gym class is on her 2nd baby daddy & was arrested for drug possession a few years back. So who’s the real winner here?! You’re okay.
Dear 16-year-emo-poem-writing-Annie, you do not need a boyfriend to validate your existence. Way back when, you could have promised anyone that you were the only girl in the world without a boyfriend. At 15 or 16 years old, it’s truly hard to watch all your friends have boyfriends while you just don’t. It’s hard because that’s what is important to everyone: popularity, relationships, clothes, looking good, etc. That’s your world as a 16-year-old girl, and if you aren’t succeeding in that world, it can be hard to try & stay in it. I think this sounds very cliché, but today I am very independent. I realize now it’s okay to be a little selfish in my early 20s. I’m realizing that in order to get to where I want to go, I need to do things myself. Having a boyfriend or not having a boyfriend does not define me. I don’t need a boyfriend to feel like I’m not invisible in the room. This does not eat away at me like it did when I was 16. This is not to say that I am totally against relationships, but now I know that things happen when they happen. Actively seeking someone is frustrating, and I’ve decided to just sit back and work on myself. So 16-year-old-poem-writing-Annie, you’re okay! And no you don’t have a boyfriend right now, but that’s okay too.
Dear 17-year-old-swear-word-filled-12-page-writing-Annie, you are not ugly or stupid. Hey there, STOP looking at yourself in the mirror and blasting Mayday Parade in your room. Wipe that black eyeliner off your bottom lash line & put down the hair straightener. NO, you are not ugly and makeup is a dangerous tool so stop raccoon-ing your eyes. You are not stupid. Stop the depressing status updates that concern all your Aunts on Facebook. You are about to get into a top-ranked school that is also your dream school. Please be a little patient. Please learn to enjoy your time in high school instead of fearing being rejected. I know how hard this is for you, but one day you’ll look back & realize your worth. And your worth is not based off of how many Facebook friends you have or how many likes you get on your profile picture. Instagram is coming and that’s a whole ‘nother beast, so prepare yourself. I realize now how much many people in life love me. I used to not feel that love & at times thought the world was against me, but I promise you that the world is with you; it’s rooting for you. Root for yourself.
Dear 18-year-old-confused-about-your-future-Annie, you are a really great writer with a ton of thoughts, but thank you for choosing a different major other than Creative Writing. You are an awesome writer. I’ve read some of your latest work (the one about the emotional disaster that is your struggle to pick a major, so deep), and I’m impressed. I know how much you love literature and writing & understandably so because you are awesome at it. But I’m glad you saw this as a hobby rather than a career. I’m so happy to have a B.S. and it is helping me achieve my goals. I was challenged in my program and through those challenges, it has prepared me for the next step in my education. Don’t worry, writing is still a passion of mine- I have a blog. Take a deep breath. Your future does come (inevitably), however, it’s better than you think it will be. I have my past struggle of picking a major to thank for my resilience in pursuing goals. Yes, the future is scary, but it’s also kind of awesome.
Dear 22-year-old-blog-writing-and-trying-to-get-into-grad-school-Annie, I am here and there’s so much left that I have to do in my life. Put on the One Direction, break out the Sauvignon Blanc and freaking celebrate because you are ALIVE! You’ve made it through all those awful teen years you depicted in your diaries. Take some advice from your younger self. School may suck, but it’s necessary in order to achieve your goals. The world is not ending even though sometimes it feels like it is. Your existence is validated because you say it is, not because a boy did. You’re not ugly or stupid- congrats on the Bachelor of Science from Penn State University and for NAILING a smoky eye. You may feel scared of the future, but future happens with every second that passes- it’s happening now. Do not be afraid of change because you’ve been experiencing it your whole life through. You have so many seconds left in you future. You have so much left to do. Remember when you were 15 and you thought that if your mom didn’t get you new clothes from Hollister for Christmas you were just gonna D I E? Well, your problems may be bigger now in 2016, but 10 years from now, they’ll seem small. Just like the problems you faced 10 years ago today are much smaller now. You’ve done good work so far, so keeping working good.
All the best,