RE: “Dear Me: A Letter to my 16 Year Old Self”

It appears as though I’ve started a trend here with my “Dear” posts. Dear life, Dear women, and now, Dear Me. When I came across this post that a friend shared on facebook, I thought it was the perfect idea to add to my growing ambiguous letter collection. That, and when I was 16, my teacher made us write letters to our future selves and I thought it was the coolest thing ever, and this is the reverse version of that, which is cool too.

Also, I’m kind of a believer in the idea of cyclical time, aka. not linear time, so this makes perfect sense, in case past me ever penetrates the membrane of my time. Here is my version of a letter to my 16-year-old self (only 5 years ago, but feels like forever):

Me at 16 in Cayo Coco, Cuba

Dear Arina,

School will always be the centre of your life because you will continue to be in love with learning new things. Even if those things are not Spanish men, there will be new things to keep you occupied, like knitting and web design.  Make sure to take the Writer’s Craft course in grade 11, and Politics in grade 12 – they will change your life, your career path, and your ideas about the world. They will keep you passionate and angry. This will drive you.

University will not turn out like you expect, but it won’t matter because you will learn so much more for it. You will not move away and find yourself, but come back home and rediscover your family. You will learn to stand up for your unorthodox views, your questionable beliefs, and your strong opinions here, you will learn to shut out the world and listen to what your body knows; you will learn to be yourself amidst chaos. You will continue supporting your friends, even when they turn their backs on you. That being said, some friends you will leave behind for your own good. Let them go quietly – do not fight. 

Next year, when you are 17, you will meet your soul mate. It will kick ass and your world will never be the same. I am speaking from the future, so I can safely say that you will stay with this man for a long, long time and be better for it. You will cry together, experience new things together, rant to each other, but mostly laugh together. You will be proud of the laugh lines and amazed at all of the love pouring out from the skin of this human, and all of the love you so easily give to him. Your love will make you cheesy, irrational and open-hearted – even more than you were before.

You will want things so much that you will break for them, occasionally. Sometimes, you will overpower your nerves and get up on a stage. It will be terrifying and thrilling. You will challenge yourself but remember that it’s not important to be the best; it is more than okay just to be heard. You will stop worrying about your physique and learn to love the curves and hairs, the dimples and dots your body endowed you with. You will also start working out after your grandmother passes away from a myriad of diseases. You do not want to pass away with a myriad of diseases, and working out might still not cure it – but you should rightfully try. You will start becoming a feminist. You will start becoming a writer. You will start wanting to give your money away for experiences instead of clothes and treating your friends instead of yourself. This is a good thing. This will continue for the rest of your life, if you’re lucky.

You will start realizing how lucky you already are, and stop thinking that nothing is working out. It works out. Life follows a carefully structured path that you worked so hard to mortar into place, even in the midst of confusion. You research real life and then go live it, with plans, with estimations, with goals. You will continue juggling a million things at one time, and you will learn to love it. 

Arina, at 16 you are on the cusp of a mental breakdown. Ride it. Live in the sadness and build a kingdom from the pain of that unknowing; invite everyone in and throw a party. Forget being afraid, being guarded or careful around people, and really love people with every toe, thumb, boob and ear that you have. Love them until they wriggle away from you like a little sister (who will turn into the brattiest teenager you will ever have met), and don’t regret it. It will make you a better person.

(One day, you’ll go blond. Don’t rush it.)

Me at 21 at Musselman's Lake, Ontario

Love, 21-year-old Arina

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2 thoughts on “RE: “Dear Me: A Letter to my 16 Year Old Self”

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