10/15/2014 05:55 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Letter to My Dystopian Teenage Self


Dear Dystopian Teenage Self,

I know, life sucks right now. You're frustrated and no one gets what you're going through. You've been tossed about in the moshpit known as life, and you're tired of smacking into people.

It seems like it's going to be this way forever.  But it won't be.

It seems like your little world is all there is and it's closing in on you.  But it's not.

Beyond the walls of your home, your school, your town, your city, is a bigger world than you ever imagined, a riotous panoply of colors, smells, sounds, ideas, and lives.

You will see it -- its beauty and its horrors -- and it will shape you.

You will learn what it is to be human, and your jaws will drop in amazement.

I am a voice from your future, here to tell you it will be okay.  

Some days will be hard.  Really hard.

You will get egg in your face. It will be gooey and gross and you will have no place to hide. Good.

Let the embarrassment burn your cheek.  Let it churn your stomach.

The feelings will pass, even though it feels like they will be there forever.

First, take care of yourself like you would a pet.  

Get some fresh air. Watch a bird, or an ant, or a squirrel.

Then, take a look at how you can do better.  

Learn to pace yourself -- little by little, go forward.

The big things take time.

You will keep getting better if you just stick it out, and don't act out.

"Every time we choose the good action or response, the decent, the valuable, it builds, incrementally, to renewal, resurrection, the place of newness, freedom, justice." - Anne Lamott

Yes, things are awful right now but in the future this won't matter so much. I know it sounds strange, but in a way you will even come to appreciate what's happening, because everything is helping you to build your unique character and to relate to other people more; others who are going through the same thing you are at this very moment. The hard lessons are the best ones to learn.

I would get on that.

Life Hacks

If you're happy, say so.

If you're sad, say so.

If you don't know the answer to something, say so.

If you're angry, say nothing. Wait until you have calmed down.

If you make a mistake, admit you're wrong.

If you didn't make a mistake, don't apologize for nothing.

If you're good at something, explore it.

If something is bad for you, then find something else to do.

When in doubt, be kind. You're here to be a force of good in a world that really needs it.

Invest your energy in your real life.

Real life happens when you're not posting your status but living it.
Get to know yourself like a best friend.

"At any moment, you have a choice, that either leads you closer to your spirit or further away from it." -Thich Nhat Hanh

Other People

Sooner or later you will realize that what other people think about you says more about them, than about you.

Let their words slide like saltwater off a surfboard.  Their words have no power over you. Your worth is intrinsic. Don't you know that you are made of the same stuff that makes the stars shine in the sky?

Don't compare yourself to anyone. Everyone has a different path, and yours is the one that you must uncover.

You will meet some really cool people. Some of them will grow with you. Some of them will not. Some will love you.  Some will lash out at you. Some you will be friends with for life.   Others will go their separate ways.

You've got to keep growing in love and light. 

Just get through this day, as raw and disappointed as you feel.  

You're an adventurer who must get to the next milestone.

You need your beauty sleep.

Stay Close to Wonder

A life comes and goes in a flash.  You love, you fear, you fail, you triumph, and most of all you must stay close to wonder.  You must die and clear the slate of your mind every day so that you can once again look at everything with the eyes of a baby.    

Keep believing in the breeze, the moon, in the twinkling lights of homes that pulse with life in the distant hill in unison with your heart. The core that reaches out for something real, soft with the touch of yesteryear or some barely recollected occasion that exists only in imagination yet is stored in your cell memory.

You've got to keep swimming, like the salmon, upstream.  

Learn to enjoy the cool water, the warmth of the sun in the shallow eddies, the feeling of flying through the air as you jump to the next level, not knowing where you're going to land, but always, toward where you know you need to go.

P.S. Don't forget to floss. You're going to have a lot to smile about.

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