A Letter to Myself Five Years Ago

(The caption to this picture was “I under-stand.” Very on-brand.)

 

Hey girl! It’s me, you. You spend a lot of time writing letters to your role models: Carrie Brownstein, Tina Fey, and the late Gilda Radner. Sometimes even to yourself in the future. So I figured I’d pay it forward.

 

You’re a sophomore in high school. You’re busy a lot, but when you aren’t, you spend quite a bit of time in your bedroom alone. You’re watching YouTube or browsing Tumblr. And you’re texting a boy.

 

Well, not really a boy. High school boys don’t care about you. They’re too immature. This is a man, actually. A man whose opinion of you matters more than anyone else’s. A man who has no business being such close friends with a girl your age.

 

You show him your favorite song. He says it’s “fine.” His apathy breaks you. You’re sobbing. You’re wondering what you could do better. (The song is “Hannah Hunt” by Vampire Weekend. Your future self still thinks it’s a great song. In 2019, we say it “slaps.” You’ll understand that later.)

 

You’re obsessed with what he thinks of you. You’re obsessed with what everyone thinks of you. (And people at school don’t really think of you at all.)

 

Then he decides you should probably stop talking. You’re too young and he’s feeling bad about himself. You’re devastated. Then you see him at a Super Bowl party and can’t deal with it anymore. Your mom drives you home.

 

Your brain starts lying to you. It says “Nobody cares about you now. But they’d regret it a lot if you died. Then they would think about you a lot.” You accept this. You remember a book you read where a boy killed himself by taking a bunch of household pills. You have pills in your bathroom.

 

Stop.

 

Sometimes your brain lies to you. That’s just the way it is, and it will still happen when you get older. But lots of other things will also happen when you get older.

 

You’ll get close to people. Your annoying little sister will become your best friend in the whole world. (And also taller than you.) You’ll meet amazing girls and guys in college who become like your second family. You’ll realize how much you need your high school friends now, and how much you’ll still need them when you only see them a few times per year. Your parents will believe in you more than anyone else. (Spoiler alert: they already do.)

 

You’ll experience. You’ll move away from home and it will only be the third hardest thing you’ve ever done. You’ll visit Los Angeles and be more moved by a mountain’s color than a pair of handprints on cement. You’ll write songs in a notebook and articles on a laptop and poems on your phone. People will see them and sometimes like them. You’ll meet your first real love while watching Portlandia. You’ll cry watching your friends get married. You’ll cry in public a lot, actually, but you’ll be okay with it. You’ll tell jokes that don’t make people laugh and unintentionally say things that do. You’ll like coffee. (That’ll be a process, though.)

 

You’ll grow. You’ll become so much better at listening to others. You’ll learn to take criticism without bursting into tears. You’ll forgive when you don’t have to. You’ll disagree with people and figure out why. You’ll do silly things in public and not care. (Sometimes to the embarrassment of the people around you.) You’ll discover you deserve a love that doesn’t demand you change. You’ll learn how to deal with pain. You’re gonna start learning how in like 10 minutes, and it only gets easier from there.

 

You’re in a really tough spot right now. Nobody’s quite given you the validation you deserve. Being fifteen is HARD. You could not pay me to do it again. And dealing with your own emotions is so much work. You aren’t being dramatic, and what you feel isn’t trivial. Your well-being isn’t trivial.

 

This won’t be the last time your brain will lie to you. But your future self will tell you the truth. So give her the chance to do it.

 

(Sidenote: both Andy Samberg and Ezra Koenig have babies now. John Mulaney is everyone’s favorite comedian, not just yours. Sleater-Kinney gets back together. And Corin Tucker tells you to keep playing guitar. That’s only 2 years away. You’re gonna wanna stick around for that.)

 

-Kait, 2019