Dear: Five two, permed and dyed, freckles, period breakouts, eyeliner drips, and scarred heels:
I have some tough love for you. Some insight. Some advice I know you won’t take and you know you should. Remember, I take care of you like no one else does. I acknowledge I am your toughest critic, and we have had our moments of hatred, but know I expect you to take every word personally.
For starters, don’t let laziness become habitual. Show up at seven fifty to your eight am. Work every weekend. Worship your days off, but never ask for them. Do your homework. Go to class. Make dinners and eat slowly. Go to the gym and go on walks on the same day. Drive out to see your parents, even if you’re tired. Don’t miss birthday parties or baby showers. Give everything 100%, and when that isn’t enough, work till what was 100% is only half as hard as you can go. Then go harder.
Keep loyal to your loyalties. Appreciate Daddy and Mother. Appreciate your teachers. Thank your bosses. Appreciate every single Subaru that ever waved you into traffic, but don’t be ashamed to say you drive a foreign vehicle. Think about how undecided, poor, and idle you would be without the people who help you. Tell them you need them. Then pick up more shifts. Do more extra credit. Buy more Christmas presents than you did last year, every year. Do everything you can to be the kind of someone that someone will appreciate.
Drive safe. Seatbelts and speed limits aren’t suggestions. Don’t hug the center line so much. Don’t even touch your phone. Take turns slowly and less aggressively. Speed less, (I would say not at all, but let’s be realistic, and it is important to live a little). Sit back further and up straighter in the car. Clean out your backseat more often. Avoid California Rolls at stop signs. Always yield. Listen when they tell you to pump your brakes on the ice. Check your mirrors every day every time you get in; you lean forward when you’re sad and sit back when you’re tired. Check the air in your tires and get a jack for your trunk. Keep being a good passenger and offer to drive more.
Be a better housekeeper. Burn more candles for less spiritual reasons. Vacuum more. Stop sweeping without a dustpan. Do laundry before you run out of cute dresses. I understand you struggle with dressers, so make an effort to keep clothes in the closet. Keep journals closed. Don’t fall asleep with pens or plates in your bed. Keep your vibrator in a drawer. Do dishes in hot water and rinse them well. Clean counters with soap. Don’t use dirty mop water, but don’t cut grease and stains with straight bleach-even if you like how it stings you. Fold blankets carefully. Make your bed, and use your sheets. Try not to spill. Fold socks. Recycle plastic bottles and old mail more often. Don’t hoard as much. There is enough that you can’t touch in your life to hold onto, clean everything else up.
Spend money carefully. Never let your accounts be so empty that you can’t afford to have lunch with your best friend at your favorite steakhouse. However, you do not need to eat out every week. Keep receipts of your checking and saving account, and update them every time you go. Limit how much cash you have in the ashtray of your car at any given time. Deposit your tips, even if you are embarrassed by what all those ones could imply. Coffees and sodas count as luxury expenses. Avoid drive-thrus as an excuse to waste gas and time. Bike more often, or walk with someone. Drive someone else’s forty-miles-to-the-gallon whenever you can. Buy clothes second hand. Donate money to charities to sponsor yourself. Do the walks and the Zumbathons that accompany those fundraisers, and go to them with a water bottle you didn’t buy at the gas station on the way. Buy presents altruistically. Every two things you buy for yourself, buy something for someone else. No gambling. No occasional lottery tickets or scratch offs because you need a bookmark. Be in charge of your own financial success. Be prolific and generous, but be aware.
Be a better friend. Forgive people for being busy. When you need someone, don’t be so distant. Expect less of boys. Expect more of boys too, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartbreak. Never be afraid to say no when you have to, but keep a little sensitivity and guilt every time you do. Forgive your friends for being in love. Forgive your friends addictions. Don’t dwell on character flaws, even if you think they are endearing. He can’t help it that his nose is his big and her hair is straight, and no matter how much you love those things they frown at them in their mirrors. Don’t imitate your friend’s voices as much. Be understanding and compassionate, but don’t be so self-sacrificing. Let people keep their secrets. Trust people enough to give yours up. Love people unconditionally. Mean what you say. Remember birthdays and anniversaries. Call before you visit, but visit frequently. Write letters on paper with purple pen. Listen to your messages. Keep pictures. Have an excess of friends.
Most importantly, forgive yourself. Do so slowly, and seriously. All of your accidents were pretty minor in the scheme of things. Do not make the same mistakes twice, unless youre sure that they were worth it the first time. Don’t blame yourself for other people’s problems and be accountable for your own. Don’t cry about the bill you didn’t pay, know you will have many more to make up for it. Do not hold too tight to rejection, it is just a story to write on the way to success. Don’t chide yourself for doing what you love, even if it was not suggested. Do not hurt yourself. Look at your eyes and hair and chest in that mirror, and forgive yourself for those thighs and that gut. You are holding up okay, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.
This is your life. Just keep trying.