Dear 17-year-old self,
You know how everyone thinks that there will be flying cars by 2018?
Well, there aren’t.
Here are some other things you should probably know. I have had tons of experience with relationships by now. I have gotten married, birthed a child (I know! I know! We said that we would never have children, but he is amazing! You will love him.) and gotten divorced. I have experienced heartache and pain and have caused others the same.
As you are getting ready to graduate high school and head off to college, I hope that I can relay some wisdom to you to make these next few years (and decades) a little less painful.
You will spend a majority of your life searching for your glass slipper. Well, darling let me tell you lesson #1 — it isn’t coming. A husband will not save you, and marriage is not the end. I know because you got it. The wonderful husband. The beautiful wedding ring. The cute baby. You two looked good in pictures. You got to be a stay-at-home wife and mother.
It bored the fucking hell out of you.
And you know why? You spent so much time working on gaining the life that you were told was important.
“Just find a rich husband,” you can hear your mother saying. But the problem is that you spent so much time trying to be what a “good man” wanted that you didn’t know what you wanted and you got lost. You ended up with the prize, but you didn’t end up with yourself. I understand that sounds harsh, or unromantic, or even cynical but it isn’t. It’s the truth, and the truth shall set you free!
Lesson #2: Never ever, ever, ever dim your light for the sake of trying to attract or keep a man. Any person whom you have to change yourself for is not only the wrong person for you, but you will eventually get tired and become resentful of them and yourself for not living your wonderful, authentic life.
You and your voice have value, but you need to love yourself first before anyone else will. Wear what you want, take the classes that interest you, watch the movies you love, actually learn Spanish, get amazing grades, and LIVE! If they want you, trust me — they will climb a mountain to find you.
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Lesson #3: Don’t ever compete with another woman over a man. If he is unsure of you, lies to you about his relationship status, or somehow makes you feel as though you are a bookmark in his life until someone better comes along, get out of there! It is not fair to you or to that other women. Also remember what I said in Lesson #1: You will find your husband, and he will be amazing! No, it didn’t work out, but while it lasted it was great. Surprisingly you both will continue to be friends long after the marriage is over. Better friends than before actually.
And LeoLin, there are millions of men in the world young lady.
You don’t even like to share dessert, so do not share a man.
Lesson #4 and this is probably the most important one: Please forgive yourself. You don’t know this now, but currently there a campaign online called #metoo to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment against women in the world. According to UN woman, “Around 120 million girls worldwide (slightly more than 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives. By far the most common perpetrators of sexual violence against girls are current or former husbands, partners or boyfriends.”
This may not make you feel better, or less angry, or less ashamed, but hopefully it will help you feel a little less alone. It wasn’t your fault even though you said yes before, even though you let him in your home, even though you told no one. You protected yourself the best that you could, and you dealt with what happened the best that you could. You were a child. Know that your adult self will protect you, heal you, and fight for you.
It will take a while, and it will send ripples through your relationships for years to come, but healing will come.
Leolin you are about to embark on a journey that you will be talking about and remembering for the rest of your life, so spend these next year’s enjoying it. Learn, grow, travel, challenge yourself, try out for that play, meet different types of people, date outside your “type,” save $$, pay off debt, fail, succeed, and from those experiences will come the self-confidence that will draw you to the person that is for you.
I love you!
Your future self,