To the Younger Me, Age 16,

Physiological age is defined in terms of biological stage and processes, and social age represents social events and practices that occur at various points across life course (such as entry into paid work) and the expectations associated with them. (Howson, Chapter 6)

In case you are confused, I am your future self, writing you a letter to inform you of certain things you can expect as we are growing older every day. We have always appreciated witty quotes, so I included this one (written above) for your reading pleasure. First of all let me prove to you that I am the future you, by telling you something that only we would know. Your first memory is a painful one; we were almost burned alive in a VW Bus at age 3. That probably wasn’t convincing enough, let me try again. You absolutely hated your first job, the boss was creepy and you couldn’t wait to get out of there. Luckily it only took a half an hour and you told him, “If you want it done that way, do it yourself.” How’s that?

If you aren’t convinced that I am the future you, don’t worry. Read this anyway, it will open your eyes to many mistakes that we have made along the way and give you the antidote to those annoying quirks that people can’t seem to understand about us. First of all, Jessie, you don’t know it all!  Our body is changing every day. Stop dying your hair. It looks awful. I stopped dying my hair three years ago and I can tell you, you don’t have that many gray hairs. At the time that you started dying your hair you found one gray hair, just let it go. Gray hair adds sophistication and character to your already beautiful self.  Protect your face and the rest of your skin from the sun. The sun ages you and gives you wrinkles. Drink plenty of water; your skin will thank you. Although aging hasn’t been fun for us, we are still happy to be alive. You will have two beautiful children, that is all you will be allowed. That is if you decide to have the hysterectomy at 30. Think this over for a while don’t just jump to conclusions just because you won’t have a period anymore. Think long about this. Before this after your second child, we make a decision to permanently make it impossible to have any more children. Think about this. The side effects of this are more detrimental to you then you will ever believe. The long standing side effects of this decision will send you into a spiral of self destructive behaviors including drug use. A decision of being sterile is a permanent one you cannot change your mind once it is done.

As far as relationships are concerned you aren’t very experienced in them. I have a few pointers. Don’t go rushing into the arms of every man who smiles at you. Smiles are a deceptive trait that men who don’t want a commitment often use to lure you in. It will catch your attention every time. Would you pet a tiger if you thought it were smiling? The same thing goes for a man with a smile. Sometimes they are up to no good and will cause you more suffering than happiness. This is not true for all the men we have encountered, though. Keep in mind that we have two beautiful children that we are raising. The first of these pregnancies will give you more stretch marks than you could ever imagine. This change in your body is natural and most women have stretch marks. They are proof that we are women and have earned our stripes. The second pregnancy will cause you to be the most aware. We are aware of this pregnancy almost from the point of conception. It is an agonizing process and there are many risks that come into play during this time. However, both children possess similar traits as you and I promise it will be worth it. I will give you one clue. You have a boy and a girl, not necessarily in that order.

The last thing I will tell you is this. In order to age gracefully you must begin to take better care of yourself. Start exercising even if you don’t think you need to or want to. Exercising and eating right are fundamentally part of assisting the aging process to go as smoothly as possible. Every day that you look in the mirror; be sure to tell yourself that you are beautiful. I promise that even through the most gruesome times in your life everything will turn out just fine. Life can be about struggle sometimes, and we know suffering and pain very well. It is our long lost friend and sometimes brings us comfort in its familiarity.

I have enjoyed writing this to you. I only hope you take it seriously. Life isn’t a game and not everything is going to be a good time. Love you so much and take care.

Regards,

Jessica LaRose

P.S. It does get better, you just have to wait and see.

 

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To my 15-year-old self,

Your body is not inferior. I know you hate how the fat at your sides pinch sometimes when you’re falling asleep, that you have more stretch marks than all your friends. I know you stand in front of the mirror and suck in your stomach and pull at your arms and legs to try to imagine what your body would be like if it was “normal.” The body you’re trying to find under all that fat isn’t a normal one, just a thinner one (maybe a little more of a healthy one) but it’s not better than the body you’re in. It’s going to take you almost four more years to like your body and probably a few more to love it, but your life gets so much better when you start to like yourself, I promise.

You’re not better than other girls. I know you’ve called other people sluts for how they dress and think that thinner girls have easier lives by default. All of that stuff isn’t true and once you get over that, you’re going to be a more empathetic, compassionate, and all around decent person. Calling someone a slut doesn’t do anything but minimize someone and try to reduce their worth and from what I can remember, you’re not that person. Also, like, get over yourself; thin girls have a lot of problems. You’re never going to believe they have more or as bad of problems as you and I really want you to try and change that because it will really make you a much better person. Your skinny friends have been told to eat a burger so they don’t look anorexic–some of your skinnier friends have been thought to have an eating disorder simply because they can’t gain weight. Sizing might not run big, but smalls and mediums run so weird in all stores and things sell out fast so that shopping sucks for everyone, not just you. It’ll suck more for you, so start accumulating more simple, long lasting cute clothes that you can extend to college. Please. I’m begging you.

Get some sun more often, it’ll help your depression. Also, yeah, you’re depressed right now, clinically, and you’re going to get even more depressed. When Dad takes you to the hospital, you’re going to tell them that you won’t talk to them once you’re 18, but in reality, you cry every time you think about Dad because he’s helped you through everything and he was the one to try and get you better no matter what the cost. When you throw up when you’re stressed in the middle of the night and in the mornings before school and everyday for an hour when you come home, run the water or go outside, because Mom gets really worried about you every time it happens. The throwing up isn’t the worst, the wanting to die is. For almost two years, you’re going to want to die so badly that you’re going to try to but I want you to know more than anything that you are going to be happy one day, I promise, and it really is worth the wait.

In terms of the little stuff, your music taste has grown but you’ve stopped reading as many books. You read poetry, plays, and a lot of newspaper pieces- The New York Times is one of your favorites. Don’t worry, you’re still writing; it’s kept you and me alive these past few years and I don’t think either of us could ever stop if we wanted to. Once you start college, things get millions of times better; the depression subsides and you participate in a lot of things. There are over fifty people who want to be your friend and who are your friend. You still talk to Erin, less than before, but you still think of her as a best friend. A boy is in love with your future self and it’s not as amazing as 15-year-old me thought it would be. As I’ve grown up these past three years, I feel like I’ve changed so much. I’m surrounded by people who love me and think I’m beautiful, people who don’t see me as “the fat girl” but people see me as a talented poet, someone really pretty and skilled with makeup, someone smart. I don’t know what I want to do anymore and I think that’s better than how I felt at fifteen. I knew who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do and where I was going to live and right now I’m living day to day, I don’t even know where I’ll be this coming summer, let alone when I graduate. I have time, and so do you; keep going.

Love,

Caitlyn

P.S. Raw honey on your face for an hour daily will take care of the acne.