The most beautiful thing about growing up is that no one does it in the same way. Everyone's life is their own; with their own upbringing, own lessons to learn, and their own obstacles to either leap over or fall in front of.
Looking back, I realize just how much I've grown in the past five years. There is so much I would have wanted to know back when I was eighteen. There is so much I would want to tell that girl. Here is what I would have said...
Live a little. Take a risk, leap, go out on a limb. There is a beauty in being scared. You won't learn anything about yourself if you let fear hold you back. Step outside your boundaries, so you can set boundaries.
Let it heal. Don't slap a band-aid on it and keep going. Take the time to acknowledge whatever wound you have. Cry, write, paint, sing, walk. Anything that helps the process. Don't rush into the next thing with an open gash or a broken heart. Take as much time as you need because the only one who can fix you is you.
It's okay to be the "good girl." There will be those who make certain decisions, and who encourage you to follow. Luckily, you haven't made any poor choices with drugs. Peer pressure can be an ugly thing. Some will poke fun at you for being the "good" girl, but it's an innocent, beautiful, and healthy thing. Always pride yourself on that.
Study, study, study. As much as you want to go to that party, stay in your dorm room and hit the books. As much as you want to sleep in, get up, grab a coffee, and go to class. Exercise your brain. Feed it knowledge. Teach yourself priorities. Believe it or not, you will miss college one day.
You can't stop change. You can dig your heels into the ground. You can put your fists up. You can clench your teeth, but life doesn't stop shifting. Nothing good can stay forever, just as nothing bad can stay forever. It's a delicate balance that isn't easy or even possible to grasp. All you can do is embrace what life throws at you and know it's happening for a reason.
Be you. You're beautiful because you're you. While you're still searching for who you are, don't look to others for assistance. Stop trying to look, talk, and act like those girls you look up to because of their glittery facade. You'll come to realize they are just like you underneath it all. Remember that being unique is what makes you special, and the right people will love you for it. I promise.
Stop searching for "the one." You think this is part of the plan, but love isn't something you can plan. So stop taking it all so seriously. Have fun, go on dates, and enjoy the ride. You're going to make some mistakes, and there are little and big heartaches coming your way. Just know, you will get through it. Trust in timing and don't lose faith in "the one." He is out there.
You chose the right path. You are pursuing what you love: writing. You are following your heart, rather than little green paper. However, it's going to be tough after you throw your maroon grad cap up in the air. No matter how tough of times, don't ever feel like you made a wrong choice. Keep at it. Keep following that passion. Keep following your dreams.
Put yourself first. Being selfless all the time is no way to live. You're one to let people walk all over you. You put others before you. Your happiness isn't number one. Stop this nonsense. You can't please everyone, so start pleasing the one person you can: yourself. Find your worth, use your voice, and stick up for yourself. You are important too.
While I wish I could have told you all of this five years ago, I love you so very much for not knowing. Not knowing meant you had to learn, which shaped who you are today. I am proud of who you've become, and the girl that led you to be a woman.
Love,Thank you to Lauren Nicole of Lauren Nicole Love, who inspired me with her own letter to her eighteen-year-old self.