A Letter to My Teenaged Self

Yetunde Cap and Gown


My darling – some wisdom from far into the future…

1) Someone very close to you will call you fat. Repeatedly. It will devastate you. Repeatedly. And it will cause you to dress like a boy, in clothes too big for you, even through college. You will pretend that this is just who you are, but that will never be true. That person is lying. You are not fat. You are perfect.

2) You will form long-lasting friendships that will mystify those around you. You have already met your lifelong, best friend. Others are coming. They’re all awesome, and some of them will become your extended family.

3) Stay close to your sister. She will soon change your life immeasurably by bringing four of the most beautiful children you’ve ever seen into your life. They, in turn, will bring three more of the most beautiful children you’ve ever seen into your life. You don’t want to miss that.

4) Your father has disappointed you. Forgive him. He will be your best friend when you grow up.

5) That girl who threatened to beat you up on the way home from school? Remember her? She was in some gang or something? You’ll never believe this, but she’s a nurse now. She ACTUALLY TAKES CARE OF SICK PEOPLE. Anyone can change. ANYONE.

6) You will see your favorite math teacher, Mr. Osborne, in the grocery store one day, and he will remember you after all those years. He’s the reason you wanted to become a teacher. Don’t forget to tell him that. He will really appreciate it.

7) Keep writing.

8) One day you will learn the power of the word “no.” You aren’t used to saying it yet, but you will learn after going through a rough patch in your life. It will feel weird at first, but soon you’ll be dropping it on a daily basis. And it will feel amazing every time.

9) That boy you were crushing on will come around when you least expect it. Yes he will. Trust me.

10) You’re a good kid. You’ve managed to make it out of your terrible teens in good shape. Some of the people you grew up with didn’t. Be thankful.

11) Technological advances will allow you to reconnect with your childhood friends and family members all over the world. Even that high school crush of yours. So yeah… take advantage of that.

12) Take care of yourself – that fatigue you’re feeling means something serious is on the horizon. You will go through an awful period, physically and emotionally – but you will survive.

13) One year after your graduation, something terrible will happen and you will lose a good friend. It will change you forever. You will not be able to talk about it in unfamiliar circles for many years. One day, you will gather up the courage to speak about it in public, and you will be approached by a few Vietnam Vets who will thank you for sharing. You will learn then how important it is for you to share your truth. It will all be worth it.

14) You will meet some of the best professors you’ve ever had in your undergraduate studies. And some of the worst. You will learn something valuable from each one.

15) Be open to meeting new people. You will soon meet people with backgrounds, philosophies, religions, cultures that are vastly different from yours. You will remain friends with some of them. They will teach you things you will never learn in school.

16) Use your voice – speak your truth. It’s scary, but it’s necessary.

17) Stand by your life choices. Others will give you a hard time for living the life you’ve chosen. Fuck ’em. Seriously. Your life works for YOU.

18) Stay close to your mother. She needs you more than she will say.

19) Your relationship with that one guy will break apart. God, PLEASE, let it stay broken. That shit was RIDICULOUS, girl. I know – you’re all, “but I LOOOOOOVE him…” One day you will look back at it, shake your head and laugh about it to yourself. That’s okay. Every woman has a COUPLE of those.

20) You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are beautiful.