Dear 18-year-old Deidre,
I know you didn’t get into your dream college but – trust me – that’s okay. What really matters is applying yourself where you are right now and making the most out of these next four years. College offers many opportunities. The fact that you may not be interested in boys or drinking or parties is okay. They’re not that important right now. And you will make amazing friends who are so much better than a beer or a sloppy makeout session or a hangover.
If and when you do decide to drink, make sure you are with people you trust and who will take care of you.
Study. Study harder. Keep studying. You’re going to do great.
You are not as fat as you think you are. You are not as smart as you think you are. You are as pretty as you think you might be. You are kinder and more sympathetic than you imagine, despite your sometimes-gruff exterior. You hide behind “radical honesty” because you’re afraid of being lied to by yourself or others. This is okay but you will learn better ways to use the truth in your life and relationships. Try to be more forgiving of yourself and others. Listen to the life experiences that people different from you bring to the table and remember that your life’s narrative is not the only one possible.
You are healthy. That is so fantastic. Take care of your body. You eat pretty healthy right now – be sure to keep that up. Cheese fries from the cafeteria are okay once in a while, but try not to give in to temptation too often, okay? I know the gym is dumb and scary but maybe give it a try once in a while and learn how to use the machines. This is valuable knowledge and you will need it so you don’t feel like a dork when you try to start working out in your twenties.
Wear sunscreen. My god, I cannot say this enough. And wash your damn face every day. Learn how to cleanse and take care of your skin now because 31-year-old Deidre had to figure all of it out by herself and she will resent you forever.
Your weird cosplay habit is one of the best things that is ever going to happen to you. You will meet so many people and make so many friends because of it. Keep it up. Enjoy it. Learn new sewing skills and tricks when you can. Don’t wait until the last minute to start projects. You can make beautiful things with your hands.
Be kinder to people. Be kinder to yourself. Don’t judge others; you don’t know what they are going through. Be sympathetic at best and be silent at worst. Saying mean things about people does not make you better than them or funny or seem smart. Do not kick people when they are down. Treat your friends with the respect they deserve and that you hope they will give you.
You are worried about a lot of things right now. That’s okay. Worrying is normal and everyone that you know is worried about something.
Remember that your parents are just two people who are trying their best and who raised you with love and joy in their hearts but they have and they will make mistakes. Forgive them.
You aren’t sure where love and sex and sexuality fit in into your life right now. If it turns out that you are a lesbian like you keep joking that you are, that’s okay. If you don’t ever like anyone enough to want to be intimate with them, that’s okay, too. If you meet someone and they make you happy and you want to have sex with them, just be safe and make sure everyone involved consents.
People who act like they like you? They probably actually like you! They’re not just pretending in some complex plot to ruin your life. This is true of your professors in addition to your peers – people 2, 5, 10, or even 20+ years older than you can actually like and respect you as a person. Let them.
Finally, if there is just one thing I can tell you, just one nugget of wisdom that I can leave you with, it is this: calm down and enjoy your life. You are a very serious young woman right now and you work and study very hard. That’s great. But overloading on courses and working two campus jobs at once isn’t necessary to consider yourself “successful.” You can slow down a little bit and everything will still be okay. Take the time to breathe and acknowledge the hard work that you have done.
You’re doing great. I love you.
P.S. Buy Apple stock. Just… trust me on this one.