What I Wish I Had Known Five Years Ago

(This post was inspired by the #DearMe campaign on YouTube and is a letter to myself five years ago on April 8th)

Dear Isabel,

First off, happy birthday! I hope you’re having a pretty good day. I know that birthdays can be pretty disappointing because they get kind of hyped up and nothing happens with the sense of excitement that you envision. You’ll get used to appreciating things for what they are as opposed to constantly wishing things would happen the way you planned.

This letter has many drafts with so much more detail about the last five years, but it never ended up how I wanted it. I think the problem is there’s so much that has happened since I turned fourteen that it’s hard to condense my advice to you into anything less than a novel, then at the same time I’m not entirely sure I would want to send that novel to my past self.

You’re going to be angry and sad and happy. You’re going to make bad decisions and take chances and have regrets. You’re going to say stupid things and dream of a future that is never going to happen. And looking back, I’m glad that I had those experiences. Making mistakes and figuring things out for yourself is the best way to grow. It also helps you realize who you want to be and what kind of people you want by your side. (One thing I’m going to tell you: you have good friends. Hold on to them.)

Hey, little me, let me tell you something: the experiences you’re going to have and the places you’re going to go and the people you’re going to meet are amazing! It’s hard to find a feeling better than looking at your life and realizing you could have never imagined yourself at that point. I wish I could tell you all about it and help you avoid the hard times, but I honestly don’t think I would have been the same person if I had a field map on how to get through life.

If I could actually send this letter into the past, I wouldn’t want to go without some words of wisdom though, so here are five pieces of advice for the next five years:

  1. You will always build things up in your imagination and they will never turn out quite the way you expected. Don’t mourn the loss of an imaginary experience when you could be enjoying something just as good, if not better.
  2. Being vulnerable is hard and scary, but if you are open with others it makes for better relationships. It doesn’t make you weak to show you care. It also doesn’t make you weak to be hurt by someone who doesn’t care as much about you as you care about them.
  3. You don’t have to have your entire life figured out. Stop staying up late and planning out the next ten years. It’s going to change and you need your sleep. You’ll find your passions and what you want to do in good time.
  4. Wear whatever you want to wear. You’re beautiful and wonderful and deserve to believe that. Walk with confidence because if you start to realize how amazing you are, others will too.
  5. You can’t always be the best at things, you can’t always win, and you’re going to fail. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying yourself and taking risks.

So there you go. Advice from five years in the future. Enjoy being young, enjoy the classes where you don’t pay attention and still get amazing marks, and don’t worry so much. You’re going to be okay. I’m proud of you.

Happy Birthday!


Isabel, age nineteen



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