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To The Girl I Was At Fifteen, 

Long time no see. As I sit awake in my college apartment, I can’t help but think about you and the person you are now. Also, those terrible comic book leggings you own. Seriously, throw those out. Anyway, right now, you’re sitting in the living room with mom, probably crying your eyes out because the people you thought were your friends had done something really cruel and it feels impossible to come back from that. Looking back, it seems so stupid to even be sad about that in the first place, but I think that’s where the downward spiral began; the anxiety amped up, and the girl you saw when you looked in the mirror became less recognizable. Your mind keeps telling you that nothing you do is enough, so you’ve stopped trying all together. Mom and dad see it, too. This bright and happy little girl they learned to love is suddenly consumed by sadness and the things you loved have just stopped doing it for you. 

If I’ve timed this right, this is about the time you stopped listening to classic rock because you think it makes you seem weird, and you’re starting to only wear leggings and sweaters because your so-called best friend wears them and all the guys want her. I can still remember the smell of burnt hair from forcing it in between the hot plates of a straightening iron because your natural curls are ‘gross’ – or so you’ll come to think. You judge your worth on the guys who like you and the two sweet sixteens you’re about to be invited to and those girls who make fun of you on Instagram. 

Here’s the thing: I know all that matters to you right now. I know, right now, you think happiness is everyone knowing your name, and being invited to every Sweet 16, and that cute guy from your Algebra class finally making eye contact with you, but it’s not. Happiness is thrifting with your best friends screaming Taylor Swift on a Sunday when it’s raining. It’s the feeling you get when you go on a first aid call at four in the morning and the only sound is the ambulance siren, because in just two years, it’ll be the feeling you get when you pass your EMT exam. It’s someone throwing you a surprise birthday party when you thought everyone was going to forget, and it’s planning stupid group Halloween costumes with your favorite people even though you can’t go out because you’re in the middle of a pandemic. And I know that now, everything sucks and you wonder if there will be a time you don’t pray for something bad to happen just to see if anyone will care, but when I tell you that there are so many things to keep existing for, I’m not lying. 

Bad things will keep happening. In junior year of highschool, someone really important to you is going to die. In junior year of college we’ll lose our sorority, something we never wanted but learned to love, to a toxic Greek life system. Your best friend will transfer; you’ll get diagnosed with OCD and severe social anxiety; and for a minute the world will feel like it did when you were 15. But, here’s what’s different: that feeling won’t last the way it used to. 

It won’t happen all at once. You’ll notice it in small pieces. You’ll actually like the way seeing $1 sunflowers at Acme makes you feel, and the day your mom tells you that she missed hearing your laugh will make your heart hurt because you can’t remember what it felt like to be this happy, and you’ll finally remember to look both ways before you cross the street. 

You’ll start listening to classic rock again, you’ll come to realize that while scarves and leggings looked great on her, they’re just not your style, and those two sweet sixteens you’re worrying so much about, you’ll forget in the next two years. In five years, you’ll look at yourself in the mirror, in a cheetah print skirt and Iron Maiden t-shirt and your hair will be those messy curls that make people wonder if you’re going to an 80’s party and you’ll feel pure bliss. It’ll take a hot second to get there, but it’ll come and when it does, it’ll be freeing. I wish you could see the person you’re going to become because I think you’ll really like her. 

All the love, 

The Girl You’ll Be At 20 

P.S. Don’t ombre your hair. Please. 

Hi everyone! My name is Juliet Winther and I'm a sociology major and a Spanish minor at The University of Tampa. Originally from the Jersey shore, I found a second home here at UT and am so excited to share my deepest, darkest thoughts with strangers on the internet (jk I love you guys)
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