Hey Allie, or should I dare say “Alyssa,”
Let’s get something straight. Who you used to be in your teens and who you are now are two completely separate people, let me tell you. Everything that you have ever wanted was practically handed to you and I don’t want you taking that for granted. You worked your ass off, and therefore everything fell into place.
I want to give you a few examples on how cool your older self is now:
1. You graduate college in a semester. Can you believe it?
There is going to be a day when you go to the beach with your real dad, his wife and your sisters. You’re going to tell him that you want to go to college and he is going to laugh in your face and ask how you expect to pay for it. You’ll tell him that you’ll find a way and he tells you good luck because, “I had to pay for everything on my own, so don’t think I’m going to help you.” Turns out, he never went to college. Think of it as taking a few AP classes, which you did. That’s about the extent of his higher education. You’re gonna cry about it when you get home and think that there is no college orientation in your future.
But guess what? You’re going to get accepted into the Accelerated Collegiate Experience (ACE) Program at Florida Gulf Coast University. You’re going to have all four years of your college paid for, plus housing, plus books, plus extra. You’re going to get your first “C” in a class and you’re going to think it’s all over. But C’s get degrees, so stop worrying so much.
2. You were the section editor for your college paper.
Yes, of course it was entertainment and lifestyle, don’t worry. I wouldn’t have you writing the police beat every week. Things started off slow, you were a contributing writer (like all great editors start as). Then, you wrote every week – sometimes even twice a week – and that earned you the title of staff writer. You took this to heart and did the best you could, giving you the opportunity to cover Eaglepalooza your freshman year.
After this, you took on the assistant editor position for E&L, worked yourself to death every Tuesday night and did the same thing again the next year as E&L editor. Things were really rocky in the transition from your assistant year to your editor year because of the staff, but you welcomed in the new year with open arms.
Things ended up not turning out so great during the spring semester and, well, the Bears are who we thought they were (you’ll get that reference later in life). So, you quit. Not to worry though, you quit with dignity and your head held high, even when everyone around you was losing theirs.
Besides, you’re the newest editorial intern for Gulfshore Life magazine, so things can’t be all that bad, right?
3. You found a boyfriend. But, like, this one you’ve been with for almost four years.
Makes that first relationship look like a blip on the radar of life now, huh?
He, Jacob, is everything you could have possibly wanted and more. He really listens when you have a problem, he jokes around with you when you’re feeling shitty. He spent so much money on you in the beginning because all he wanted was to play videogames with you, and that’s pretty damn special.
You met him online. I know it sounds weird but it was the best decision you’ve ever made. Things are going to get very hard Jan. 8, 2014. You haven’t told mom about him yet and she’s going to find out. You’re going to feel like your life is over. You’re going to stupidly run away for less than eight hours and then you’re gonna be right back home. You’re going to have to embarrassingly apologize to his parents over the phone and hope that they don’t think you’re absolutely crazy. You’re only going to be able to talk to him by email every few days and that’s going to be hard. He said he’d wait, but you didn’t believe him. Nevertheless, he did.
You meet him for the first time, in person Dec. 14, 2014. The day before you had lunch with your mom on the beach and talked about all your hopes and fears that the 10-day-long vacation would bring. You can’t stop smiling when you see him waiting for you by your gate. You cry, a lot, and he gives you an awkward hug because that’s just who he is then. The week is perfect, and there are many more vacations to come. Each time, however, they feel shorter and shorter. You spend one of those Spring Break weeks at his apartment. Surprise, you lose your V-Card. See? You won’t be a 40-year-old virgin cat lady, I promise.
You still have a really hard time letting people in, and unfortunately it has taken you up to the summer of 2017 to finally let all your walls down and stop defending yourself from him. You’ve gotten into a few near-relationship-ending fights, but that’s because you don’t trust him completely. So please, from the bottom of my now twenty-something heart, be more open with those that love you. I know you’ve been hurt before but it’s doing you more harm than good. Let them in. You’ll be glad you did.
4. You’re moving to Tennessee in December.
The first time you lay eyes on this state, you’re going to fall in love and never want to come back home. And I promise, every night before you have to fly back, you are going to cry to no end, without fail.
Of course, maybe 10 percent of the appeal is because Jacob lives there. However, you’re going to spend a day in the mountains near Gatlinburg during a week trip there. Cades Cove, specifically. You’re going to find this little shoulder on the road to stop at and walk into the field. All you can see around you is trees and mountains. And, you being you, are going to plop right down in the middle of it all and just be. In this moment, you know you are meant to stay here. Something is calling you and you can’t say no.
This, again, is one of the last days you are in Knoxville and, upsettingly enough, once you experience a feeling like this nothing can compare to it. You’re gonna go home really sad and upset and angsty. But hang tight, because December 2017 is going to come faster than you know it and you’re going to wish you spent more time appreciating those around you in that moment than wishing you were gone.
Find time for your Florida friends and family –– Tennessee will still be there.
5. Your body has changed a lot.
You know, you used to be able to fit into a size nine skinny jean. You’re probably a size 12 now at American Eagle, size 14 if you want to wear high-waisted stuff. But honestly, high-waisted stuff makes you feel like a stuffed sausage, so I wouldn’t even bother. You’re going to start realizing that working on your feet eight hours a day is going to make you feel like a cripple in the morning. You’re going to have to wear sole inserts for your shoes because you have plantar fasciitis. Sounds like a disease, but it just means that your feet suck at being feet, essentially.
You’re going to want to lose weight, so you hit up a spin class at the Rec Center and have to sit out for all of it because you almost pass out 15 minutes in. You are going to get discouraged, you’re going to feel useless and I know you’re going to look into the mirror and hate your curves and dimples and rolls.
Then, you’re going to find yoga and all of that will change. Because here’s a secret: thick girls and skinny girls can do yoga. Hell, anyone can do yoga. And yoga can get intense. It’s the perfect balance of heat and relaxation that you need. Throw in some cardio here and there and I promise you’ll feel a lot better. Some things take time, and learning to love your body and make the right changes is one of those things.
So, Alyssa, among all these great things that happen in your life, there are going to be lots of trials. There will be a lot of nights trying to understand what you did wrong or how you got to where you are. All of that is necessary. There is a song that one of your favorite rappers, Logic, just put out. The title is 1-800-273-2588. It’s the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. This song is going to get you through so much and make you realize how precious life is. Everything this song conveys you have felt at one point. There is a line that sticks out the most; “What’s a day without a little night?” And it’s true, you can’t have highs without some lows.
For now, you’re adulting just fine. I’ll check in some five to 10 years later and see what advice you have then.