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It’s me, four years later. I saw a video on social media today that reminded me that at 17, I was so young. A young adult, searching for who I was, and what I was going to be. I’ve always felt so disconnected from you. 

I'm different now. I grew up a little and went through a lot in the last four, long years. And I often find that I search for similarities between us. 

Four years ago, I was different. Different in almost every way, I'm afraid. 

I was in love. So painfully enthralled in him. 

I was naive. So unaware of the hurt I am so soon to feel. 

I was hopeful. So much more so than I am now. 

I was lively and youthful. And that might be the only thing that remains.

I'm not writing to you to spew bitterness or worry. I'm writing to you to understand and to connect. 

In the last four years; I've changed. Maybe, hopefully, for the better.

All I know is that I miss who I used to be. Not in the way that I wish I was still you, but in the way that I wish I could remember you more. 

You were so young. So beautiful. So invested in the future and the person you so hoped to be. 

Now that I am here. Now that I am in that future, I wish to tell you some things. Some things that I wish you would have known so long ago. 

You will be hurt. Hurt so bad that you lose who you are. Hurt so bad that you don’t know how to heal. 

But with that hurt, you become strong. You become someone you never thought you could be. 

You become me. 

I, 21-year-old me, am strong. 

I have fought to be who I am. And that fight and that strength stemmed from you. From your hope. Your will. Your belief in love. 

I experience love today much differently than you. 

He isn't here now. He hasn’t been in a while. 

There have been others. Others gave love in the same way he did. Maybe not as passionately and maybe not as consistently. But, still, they were there. 

Since him and them, you’ve learned to find love in other places of your heart. 

You’ve learned to find love amongst friends and family and strangers. You’ve learned to find love in hidden places and fleeing smiles. But more importantly, you’ve learned to find a way to love yourself. 

Seventeen is such a scary, unknowing age. But so is 21. 

We may be different. and I may have changed. But right now, we are the same. 

Moving forward. Hoping. Leaving. Moving on. 

Although I don’t know you like I used to; I still feel close to you. 

I am ready, just as you once were. I am leaving a place that I called home, just as you did. I am hoping for more, just as you hoped. 

But the difference remains because I know things that you never did. 

I know that people leave. I know that heartbreak hurts. and I know that I am ready. 

The last four years have been the best and worst of my life. They harbor so much pain, but in that pain is so much love. In that hurt and loneliness are so much growth and perseverance. 

I feel ashamed that I didn’t become who you wanted to be. That I missed the path that you wished I would have taken. 

But in that shame, I sense growth. Because maybe I'm not who you wanted me to be. But right now, sitting in my living room writing, I am who I want to be. 

Enjoy every moment in the next four years. They’re fleeing and unpredictable. 

Once you’re here, where I am sitting now, you’ll thank yourself. 

You’ll be proud of yourself. You’ll forgive the mistakes you’ve made. And you’ll smile at yourself in the mirror. 

Seventeen-years-old is so young. but so is 21. 

I am proud of you. 

Hi, I'm Hannah Kathleen! I'm a senior studying journalism at St. Bonaventure University.
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