Monday, January 11, 2016

What Would I Tell 16 Year Old Me?

Dear 16-year-old Melissa, 

It's hard to believe that 16 was ten years ago. Ten years since you sat in your room listening to Snow Patrol on repeat for the 100th time. Since you spent hours searching for the perfect lyrics for your MSN status. Since sleepovers with your friends where you fantasized about life at 26. Fantasized about being an adult; romanticized it. "Where do you think we'll be in 10 years?" The conversation that never grew old, because the whole world lay before you. But you were so naive. 

Let me tell you about life ten years later. Let me give you a glimpse of life at (almost) 26. 

You will not be married; not even a little bit close. That college boyfriend you dreamed of? It didn't work out. You didn't graduate high school and go to journalism school. You didn't travel the world telling stories. You didn't find the man of your dreams at 21 and marry him. That big house you thought you'd have? It's an apartment with a roommate. Those 2 kids you wanted before 25? They don't exist. That dog you always dreamed of? Well you have her, so that's one point for you. The bank account you thought would be full of money? Laughable.

But let me tell you about that apartment and that roommate. It's the most fun and frustrating thing in the world, learning to live with someone else. And your roommate doesn't judge you when she sees you in your underwear, eating corn dogs and binging Netflix at 1 a.m., crying over old romantic comedies. Could you do that in front of your husband? Maybe, but he sure as hell wouldn't join in. 

Those two kids you thought you'd have? You didn't have them, but one of your best friends did, and they are the light of your life. Plus you get to do all the cool, fun aunt things with them and give them back when they cry or poop. 

That dog you always wanted? Well you didn't wait for the white picket fence and the husband to find her. You chose to go it alone and it's the best decision you've ever made. Because rescuing and caring for a dog on your own is one of the hardest and most satisfying things you could do. 

The money you thought you'd have? It doesn't exist because you chose a different life path. One that involved a lot less money and a lot more helping people. You're richer in so many other ways. 

That accountant/finance guy you pictured as your husband? You met him. You met two of him actually, and they were pretty big assholes. The idea of the perfect man you had in your head doesn't exist. He never could. You've learned to find imperfections beautiful and it's made you much better, much less likely to settle.  

But life at 26 is not lonely. Single is not bad. You have the most amazing group of humans around you. Your parents become your world, so maybe you should have laid off the attitude at 16; they really didn't deserve that. You don't have 100 friends. But the few that you do have, are the purest, kindest, most wonderful people you could have in your life. You may not have met "the one" just yet, but you certainly found your soulmates. 

Life at 26 isn't anywhere near what you imagined - it's better. You've fallen and picked yourself back up. You had your heart broken (a lot) and survived. Your family was shaken to its very core and you learned just what strength is. You're a better human for not having things work out the way you planned. And what's the fun in planning your life anyway?

These are the moments you'll never forget. You're making the most of your twenties in a way you never thought you would. You've come a long way on your journey to love yourself, and none of it had to do with the value placed on you by a man.

So go back to braiding your hair, go back to your sleepovers, and go back to fantasizing, but just know that life is about to throw you for a loop over the next 10 years, and it's the best damn thing you never asked for. 


25-year-old Melissa 


  1. Oh man! I thought all the same things when I was 16. And I'm so glad I was wrong!

  2. Ugh, love this. My thoughts about what my life would be back when I was 16 (or in my case almost 19 since I'll be 29 later this week) doesn't compare to the amount of amazing it actually turned into. Good reminders, girlfriend. xo

  3. <3 <3 <3 <3
    (Love this, you, and everything about this post...but my primary takeaway right now is that I really want a corndog.)